GMAT Online Exam Adds Essay Section As Test Becomes Permanent Option

GMAT Online, the at-home version of the GMAT exam, adds the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), known as the GMAT essay section. Testing appointments for the enhanced GMAT Online are now available

The GMAT Online Exam, the at-home version of the top business school admission test, now includes the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the GMAT essay section, previously only part of the traditional test center GMAT.

The move comes as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the owner and administrator of the GMAT, makes the GMAT Online Exam a permanent testing option, with registration for testing appointments for the enhanced GMAT Online now available.

The online GMAT was previously launched to support MBA and business master’s candidates unable to get to a GMAT test center after the coronavirus outbreak. To respond quickly, some GMAT features were omitted from the initial GMAT Online exam launch, including the AWA section.

Now, alongside the introduction of the GMAT AWA, GMAC has announced that the GMAT Online Exam is here to stay, providing additional flexibility for test takers.

Joy Jones, GMAC’s chief product officer and general manager of assessments, says the GMAT Online Exam, alongside the Executive Assessment Online for Executive MBA and part-time MBA candidates, has become a “vital standard option.”

The changes provide “test takers around the world with the confidence to test in a test center or online to meet their business school application needs,” she says.


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GMAT Online | 4 Major Enhancements

GMAC sees the AWA section as an integral part of the GMAT exam, providing business schools with important insight and candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to communicate ideas.

GMAC says the AWA section was added to the online test following interest from business schools.

Further enhancements to the GMAT Online Exam include the ability to preview unofficial test scores immediately; additional and extended breaks; and the convenience to select the order in which the sections of the exam are taken.

The break schedule for the online test is now the same as it is in test centers; an optional eight-minute between the Quant and Verbal sections, as well as one before or after the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections (depending on the section order selected).

In summary, the four major enhancements to the GMAT Online exam are:

1. Receive your unofficial score report immediately. See your score on screen after your test so you can plan your next steps.

2. Select your Section Order. Choose which section of the exam to take first, like the test center exam.

3. Take two 8-minute optional breaks. 

4. Write your Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Demonstrate your critical writing skills to your target programs


GMAT Online vs GMAT test center

With the online and test center versions of the GMAT becoming more aligned, whether you should do the GMAT online or at a test center is increasingly down to personal preference. 

Generally, business schools do not have any preference for how you take the test.

Since the GMAT online exam launched, over 45,000 exams have been delivered in more than 150 countries, territories, and special administrative regions.

GMAC has consistently looked to refine the online GMAT since its launch in April 2020, introducing both online and physical whiteboard options, disability accommodations, and the option to retake the GMAT Online Exam.

GMAC also increased the price of the online exam from $200 to $250 in September 2020 to align it more closely with the test center version

“The GMAT exam is a powerful tool for both business school candidates and admissions professionals to help make ‘right fit’ decisions for MBA and business master’s programs, which are seeing record numbers of applications,” say Joy from GMAC. 

“Our ongoing enhancements to the GMAT Online Exam help to ensure the options are consistent and that we continue to meet the evolving needs of candidates and business schools.”


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