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5 Things to Do Before Taking the GMAT™ Online Exam

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Being prepared and knowing what to expect when you take the GMAT™ online exam can go a long way toward boosting your confidence and earning your best score.

It’s understandable if you’re a little nervous before your GMAT online exam appointment, but there’s no reason to feel any added anxiety about the online test experience. A little knowledge can go a long way: knowing what to expect, preparing for it, and visualizing your success will give you the confidence you need to achieve your best score.

Here are five simple things you can do ahead of your test day to ensure you’ll be ready when it counts.

1. Know your whiteboard plan

During the test, you’ll have the opportunity to choose to use your own physical whiteboard, an online whiteboard, or both for scratch work and note taking. An important part of your exam prep and confidence building should be to determine which option or combination of whiteboards works best for you and your test taking strategy.

If you plan on testing with a physical whiteboard and you need to acquire one, please schedule your exam appointment to allow for its shipping time. Keep in mind that your physical whiteboard can be no larger than 12 inches by 20 inches (30 centimeters by 50 centimeters), and you can have two dry erase markers and one dry erase whiteboard eraser.

In addition, plan to put in some time with the online whiteboard practice tool and determine if, how, and when you’ll put it to use on exam day.


2. Think ahead about preparing your environment

You don’t want any surprises or added anxiety on test day, so give some thought beforehand to where you’ll take the exam and understand fully what you need to do to ensure the space is in accordance with the test policy. Remember that you should be in a walled room with a closed door and keep in mind that if your workspace does not pass the room scan as a part of check-in (more on check-in below), you will not be permitted to take the exam—so don’t overlook this part of your prep!

On test day, your work surface will need to be clean and you can’t be within arm’s reach of any books, notepads, sticky notes, papers, pens, pencils, and other writing instruments or objects. Items on the wall with writing on them will be inspected as a part of the room scan.

Read more on how to prepare your test-taking environment.

The GMAT Online exam can be taken on both Windows and Mac personal computers, and on laptops. Before test day, be sure to do a system test to confirm that you are able to take the exam on your preferred computer.

You will also need a stable Internet connection for the exam. If your Wi-Fi connection is spotty at all, consider connecting to the Internet via a hard-wired ethernet cable. Keep in mind that during the exam you can only use one monitor. If you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in before your start the exam, and if you’re using a wireless keyboard or mouse, consider putting in fresh batteries.

Read more on the system requirements for the GMAT Online exam.

Many online test takers so far have noted that they really liked being able to test at home in a space that they could control. When asked what they liked most about the GMAT Online exam, some said:

“[I liked] being able to be in my own home and not having any distractions.” –Test taker from the United States

Take a moment to consider how you’ll achieve this in your home during your test. Are there family members or roommates you should let know beforehand? Is there a time when you can schedule your exam that may be quieter in your home? For example, when your spouse is working or when your children are asleep? Take this into account when setting your appointment (read more in the last section below).

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3. Know what to expect during check-in

On test day, you should log in about 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam start time to allow time for the check-in process.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll be asked to pair your cell phone via a text message link. Then you’ll be prompted to take a picture of yourself and your valid ID (for example, passport or driver’s license). You’ll also be asked to take pictures of the four sides of your surroundings. This ensures that your test space complies with the exam policies and procedures, ensuring fairness for all examinees.

The GMAT online exam is remote proctored, meaning human proctors (supported by AI technology) monitor your session and workspace throughout your session via a live video and audio feed, which is recorded. Your proctor will check the photos you took before the start of the exam. You will speak with them as they verify your identity and make sure you’re ready to go before activating your exam session.

If you choose to use a physical whiteboard during your exam, you will be asked to completely erase your whiteboard and show the front and back of your blank whiteboard to the camera at three different times: before the exam begins, before the optional break begins (if you choose to take it), and before the exam ends.

For more, visit the policies and procedures page.

On test day, you’ll go straight from check-in into the live exam, so be prepared!

4. Prep like it’s the real thing

There’s no better way to prep for the exam than to mimic what the experience will be on your actual test day. And now that you have the option to take the GMAT exam at home, this has both never been easier and never been more important. It’s easier in the sense that you can do a practice exam on the same computer in the same space you’ll be in on your test day, and more important in the sense that some of the new tools and policies of the online exam require some practice to get comfortable with.

Here are some suggestions for your exam prep:

  • Mimic the environment. Do a full practice exam in the space where you’ll take the real test, using the same computer setup that you’ll use (remember, you can only use one monitor). Close the door, don’t let anyone interrupt you, and only allow yourself water in a clear glass. No scratch paper—use only your physical whiteboard, the practice online whiteboard, or a combination of the two.
  • Practice using the Section Order you’ll pick on test day. On test day you’ll have the ability to select your Section Order. Give some thought to what order makes the most sense for you, and run through a complete exam with that order to be sure it’s what you want.
  • Practice having two 8-minute breaks. Just like at a test center, on you online test day you’ll be allowed two optional 8-minute breaks. These are your opportunities during the test to be off camera, to use the bathroom, and to access food or comfort items such as tissues or cough drops.
  • Do a complete test at the time of your test appointment. To really get a sense of how you’ll feel on test day, do a complete run through at the time of day you’ll take the actual test. This will help you get in the mindset of visualizing what it will actually be like, as well as help you predict any interruptions on your test day. All GMAT Official Practice exams now have the online whiteboard built-in to help you mimic the GMAT Online exam experience.

Access your two free GMAT™ Official Practice Exams and purchase additional prep products here.

5. Take advantage of being able to test 24/7 from home

The GMAT online exam offers unprecedented convenience and flexibility with the ability to take it from the comfort of your own home at any time that works well for you—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Post-exam survey findings show that this is a major help to many test takers. One said that what they liked most about the GMAT Online exam was:

“Being able to take it in a time frame that met my schedule and not having to miss work for the exam.” –Test taker from the United States

Take full advantage of this flexibility and schedule your exam at the time works the best for you—it may help you optimize your performance. Do you feel sharpest first thing in the morning? Book an early exam time. Worried your spouse, roommates, or kids will disturb you? Book your appointment during a time when they will be the least disruptive. Remember you can register for an exam appointment up to 24 hours before.

Keep these things in mind and you’ll be ready to do your best when it counts. Have you reserved your test appointment yet? Register today!


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