As you consider your options for taking the GMAT, you probably have considered the question “Which one would work better for me: GMAT in person or GMAT online?” The GMAC has recently announced changes to the GMAT exam, including giving test takers the option to take the exam online.
Which is better for you, GMAT in person or GMAT online? There are pros and cons to both, and it ultimately depends on your personal preference and situation. Here are some key factors to consider when making your decision.
Pros of Taking the GMAT Online
The best part about taking the GMAT online is that you can take the test from any place that has an internet connection. This is a major plus for people who cannot travel or do not live near a physical GMAT testing center. Also, the online format allows more flexibility in terms of scheduling. You can choose to take the exam at any time that works for you as long as you comply with certain time frames.
Taking the Test in the Same Environment You Studied in
If you are taking the GMAT exam at home, the setting will be similar to the one you studied and practiced in for this test. Taking the exam in an environment that’s already familiar to you means that your mind will be more comfortable with its surroundings which can reduce anxiety. Studying for the GMAT and taking the exam in the same place will help your mind connect the material you studied with the setting in which you’re taking the test.
For some test takers, the thought of taking a test in person can be very anxiety-provoking. If you are one of these people, then taking the GMAT online may be a better option for you. You can take the GMAT from the comfort of your own home and avoid any potential stress that comes with being in a physical testing location.
Cons of Taking the GMAT Online
Less Personal Attention
When you take the GMAT online, you do not have direct contact with a proctor. You both will be able to communicate through the chat, and you can ring to live chat with the proctor. Still, this can be a disadvantage if you prefer receiving more personal attention or want your questions to be answered faster, in more detail, or prefer face-to-face explanation.
Some people may feel less secure about taking an online test, especially if they haven’t taken any online exams before. Make sure you are familiar with the GMAC security procedures for online testing before signing up and the steps you need to complete before starting the exam.
No Scratch Papers
One thing you cannot do when taking the GMAT online is to take notes physically. But you do have the virtual whiteboard or you can buy your own whiteboard to use during the exam. This can be a disadvantage if you like to have physical copies of all your materials in front of you during the test. Also, proctors are very strict when it comes to what you have around you. You are not allowed to have anything on your table, including pens, calculators, or coffee. Literally, nothing should be around you.
Pros of taking the GMAT in Person
Environmental Distractions are Eliminated
If you are someone who is easily distracted by your surroundings, then taking the GMAT in person may be a better choice for you. This setting allows you to have more control and eliminates any potential environmental distractions. You don’t know when you might receive an unexpected mail or notifications on your laptop.
Live Feedback from the Proctor
Another advantage of taking the GMAT in person is that you can get live feedback from the proctor. If you have any questions or concerns during the test, the proctor can help to address them faster and maybe better than through a chat box online.
Cons of Taking the GMAT in Person
Location and Scheduling
The main disadvantage of taking the GMAT in person is that you are limited to location and schedule. You may not be able to find a test center close to you, or the testing times may not work with your schedule.
The GMAT costs $250, and the cost of taking it in person can add up if you have to travel.
Similarities: GMATin Person or GMAT Online
Both the online and in-person versions of the GMAT are computerized, so you will get the same questions and experience. Also, both GMAT online and in person will be 3 hours and 7 minutes and you will be given two optional 8-minute breaks, plus you will be able to choose the sequence in which you take the test. Both exams cost US $275. So if you are concerned about potential errors that could occur in a live test environment, rest assured that GMAT in-person and online are equally accurate.
Technology Requirements for the GMAT Online
In order to take the GMAT online, you must meet certain technical requirements. You will need either a PC or Mac that operates on Windows 8.1 or 10 or Mac OS 10 or above, Windows 7 will not work. You need to have a computer with internet access, a webcam, and a microphone. If you do not have these items or are unable to meet the requirements, you will have to take the GMAT in person.
Which Option is Best for You
Ultimately, the decision of whether to take the GMAT in person or online comes down to personal preference. If you are comfortable with technology and don’t have a flexible schedule, then the GMAT online option may be better for you. However, if you prefer more personal interaction or want feedback from a proctor, then the GMAT in person option is best. Keep in mind that you always have the option to hire a GMAT private tutor to help guide you with your studies and everything related to the GMAT. No matter which format you choose, make sure to prepare well so that you can score your best on test day.
Contributor: Cynthia Addoumieh