After delivering more than 45,000 GMAT online exams, the Graduate Management Admissions Council has decided to make its at-home version of the test a permanent solution that it will offer with the opportunity to take the GMAT at a test center.
The at-home GMAT was originally launched as a temporary measure on April 20th when the coronavirus pandemic shut down test centers all over the world. At first, it was only supposed to remain available until mid-August. But after three extensions of the cutoff dates, GMAC has decided to keep open the option permanently.
When GMAC rushed the at-home test to market, it was nearly a month later than the rival GRE test marketed by Educational Testing Service. Then, reports quickly surfaced of numerous technical glitches with the exam (see Tales From The GMAT Crypt: Test-Takers Cry Foul Over Tech Glitches, Bugs & Poorly Trained Proctors). One of the biggest initial controversies concerned the lack of an applicant’s ability to practice on a new virtual whiteboard, a problem that has since been rectified (see This Pro Test-Taker Scored 30 Points Lower On The At-Home GMAT.
Concerned about those test experiences, MBA admission directors at a host of prominent business schools either have made standardized tests optional this year or have announced more generous policies to waive the exams if candidates meet certain criteria (see Top 100 MBA Programs That Are Now Waiving GMAT & GRE Tests). Some 65 of the top 100 have now gone fully test-optional or are actively promoting test waiver policies.
‘OUR POSITION IS THAT THE GMAT IS ONE EXAM, DELIVERED IN TWO DIFFERENT WAYS’
Stacey Koprince of Manhattan Prep. Courtesy photo
“We are reinforcing our commitment to online test delivery for test takers and schools providing the choice and flexibility to take the GMAT exam (and Executive Assessment) online or at a test center,” says Tania Hernandez-Andersen, senior director of corporate brand communications at GMAC. “Our position is that the GMAT is one exam, delivered in two different ways. Both options will always be available to support candidates’ business school applications, and the choice is theirs whenever they are ready. With a ‘one test – two ways’ approach, candidates can choose the option that will provide them with the best experience to help them reach their goals.”
Since its launch in April, GMAC says it has delivered more than 45,000 GMAT online exams and scores have been sent to more than 4,000 programs across the world. “The GMAT exam and Executive Assessment online tests together have been delivered to candidates in more than 150 countries,” Hernandez-Anderson told Poets&Quants in a statement. “GMAC is always committed to the test taker experience and the integrity of our exams. We’ll continue to make investments that support our schools and test takers with enhanced and comparable online and test center exam experiences.”
Test prep experts are welcoming the change. “From our perspective, making the GMAT Online and the Executive Assessment Online permanent options for test takers is super student-friendly since it adds some certainty to an admissions cycle that has been filled with ups, downs, and surprises,” says Stacey Koprince, content and curriculum lead at Manhattan Prep. “While many testing sites are operational, there’s no telling when all testing centers will reopen—or when one will close again—so this gives aspiring MBAs one less wildcard to be concerned about. With this announcement, prospective business school students now know that they can take the GMAT and EA in whichever format they prefer—and if a test center closes temporarily, they’ll still be able to take the exams online.The fact that GMAC is making this a permanent option leads us to believe that, after initial student apprehension about some technology-related issues, both online exams have become quite popular.”
GRE HAS MADE A SIMILAR DECISION TO MAKE THE TEST PERMANENT
She notes that a 2020 business school admissions officer survey conducted by Kaplan found that almost all admissions officers say they make no distinction between applicants who submit scores from the traditional test-center version of the GMAT and those who submit GMAT online scores. “From their website, it appears that ETS has made a similar decision regarding the GRE, which would make a lot of sense since the GRE and GMAT are in such fierce competition for business school applicants and this would be a significant differentiator,” adds Koprince.
Since the April launch of the online test, GMAC also made a series of changes in the at-home experience for test takers. The organization has ironed out some of the early bugs in the online exam, added a whiteboard tool to help test takers prepare for its use at home, allowed test takers to sit for the online version twice (originally it could only be taken once), and increased the price of the online test by 25% to $250 from $200.
Unlike test center dates, the at-home GMAT is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Candidates can schedule an exam appointment up to 24 hours before an available testing window, though the online test is still not accessible in Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan due to regulatory and local data privacy rules.