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GMAT Online Vs. In-Center GMAT – Which version is better?

GMAT Online Vs. In-Center GMAT – Which version is better?
A 7 min read

In 2021, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) introduced an updated version of the GMAT Online allowing to take the GMAT at Home. to provide MBA aspirants with a reliable alternative for taking the GMAT during a time of uncertainty and confusion. The online version of the test is now a permanent option for candidates.

To help you decide between the in-center and GMAT online exam, we talked to Sehar Khanna, a GMAC representative. In this article, we compare GMAT Online vs. In-center GMAT on various parameters and answer a crucial question – Which GMAT Exam version is better for you?

GMAT Online vs. GMAT in-Center Exam

Watch this video to know the latest enhancements to the GMAT Online exam: 


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GMAT Online Vs. In-Center Exam – Key Differences

Here is a brief overview of the key differences between the GMAT Online vs. in-Center Exam:

ParametersGMAT Online ExamIn-center GMAT Exam
Number of sections (Same)Earlier Online version did not include AWA, But from April’21 it has included AWA section also.

Now both versions have same structure.

Four Sections – Quant, Verbal, IR, and AWA
Four Sections – Quant, Verbal, IR, and AWA
Duration of the Test (Same)Approx. 3 hours 7 minsApprox. 3 hours 7 mins
Order of the Sections (Same)Select the order from:

1. AWA IR Quant Verbal

2. Verbal Quant IR AWA

3. Quant Verbal IR AWA

Select the order from:

1. AWA IR Quant Verbal

2. Verbal Quant IR AWA

3. Quant Verbal IR AWA
Registration Fee$300$275
Rescheduling Fee1 to 14 days prior to appointment: $180

15 to 60 days prior to appointment: $120

More than 60 days prior to appointment: $60

1 to 14 days prior to appointment: $165

15 to 60 days prior to appointment: $110

More than 60 days prior to appointment:


Cancellation Fee1 to 14 days prior to appointment: $60 refund

15 to 60 days prior to appointment: $90 refund

More than 60 days prior to appointment: $120 refund

1 to 14 days prior to appointment: $55 refund

15 to 60 days prior to appointment: $80 refund

More than 60 days prior to appointment: $110 refund

Reporting scores to schoolsInfinite schools with no feesYou can send your scores to 5 schools for free. Extra $35 for additional school
Section scores, Total Scores, along with percentile SameSame
Score ScaleSameSame
Validity5 years5 years
Canceling the ScoreNot AllowedAllowed
Experience and Policies
PlaceNo Commute. Take the GMAT at HomeYou need to Travel to the center
Material ProvidedOnline or Physical Whiteboard OptionScratchpad
Breaks2 Breaks: 8 mins each2 Breaks: 8 mins each
Retaking the ExamTwo retakes are allowedFive times in any 12 months, but no more than once in any 16-day period
Booking the slotTwice you can give the Exam.

 24/7- seven days a week

Once every 16 days and no more than 5 times in a rolling 12-month period.

 You need to check availability at the center


Exam Structure

The content and construct of both the Exam remain the same.

In-center and GMAT online exams have the same number and types of items in each section, with the same duration to complete the Exam. For both in-center and online Exam, you have the option to select the order of the test from the three options mentioned below:

  1. AWA IR Quant Verbal
  2. Verbal Quant IR AWA
  3. Quant Verbal IR AWA

But does the section order in which you take the GMAT affects your score?

According to Sehar Khanna, the order in which you take the GMAT should not affect your scores as there is no data to support this claim. She states, “We conducted a survey and did not see any huge difference in the score because of the section order. The majority of the students globally follow Quant ->Verbal ->IR section order, and thus, GMAC considered this section order for GMAT online exam.”

Check out the GMAT Syllabus for 2023.

Registration, Rescheduling, and Cancellation Fees

The GMAT Online Exam $25 more than the in-person GMAT test cost. The registration fee now is $300 for Online GMAT and $275 for the in-center GMAT exam.

Previously, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there were no rescheduling and cancellation fees charged for in-center Exams. However, it is now effective.

Also, if you opt for the GMAT Online exam you will be charged a rescheduling and cancellation fee. Refer to the table above to know the prices. 

Also, you can now send your GMAT Online scores to as many schools as you want without any fees. On the other hand, if you want to send scores to more than five schools, the In-center Exam charges an extra $35(per report).

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GMAT Online vs. In-center Exam – Are the Test scores Comparable?

are the gmat scores comparable for online and in center exam?

According to Sehar Khanna, the scores for both the tests are comparable.

“We have taken both the test scores of individuals and not seen any difference in the score. Besides, the schools are also considering the Online GMAT score to be as same as in-center GMAT Score”

Also, your total score comes from Quant and Verbal. So, there is absolutely no difference when it comes to GMAT online and in-center scoring.

The section scores and total scores, along with percentiles and score scales remain the same for both the exams. And that is not all. Both have validity for five years!

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Can you Cancel your score?

As stated by Sehar, you can’t cancel your online GMAT exam score. It is only relevant for the test-center. For the At-home Exam, you have the option of seeing the score first and then sending it to schools, so the cancellation option does not make sense. Based on your scores, you can select which school to target.

If you take the Exam at the center, you need to select five schools before seeing your scores. Thus, providing a cancellation option makes sense.

How can you take advantage of it?

Instance 1: You can take the at-home GMAT and, based on your score, can send the report to as many schools you like.

Instance 2: if you were aiming for 740 and got 700 on the at-home test, you can decide to send 700 scores to Tier 2 schools (As many you like) and then take the in-center test to reserve the Five score reporting slots for Tier 1 schools. Like this, you are broadening your chances of getting into a school.

Experience and Policies

GMAT online vs. in-center exam - Experience

Another advantage of taking the GMAT test from Home is No commute! For all those students out there, who used to commute to GMAT test centers in other states or cities can now relax. All you need to do is find a perfect spot at your home.

With no commute and taking the test from the comfort of your home, it is an advantage, but what tops it all is that you will be able to create your desired Exam environment. There are guidelines set by GMAC on how your exam environment should be, but being in your known surrounding overpowers it.

Here are some tips and checklists for setting up your room for the GMAT Online Exam.

For the in-center test, you need to carry your mask and wear it during the Exam.

Another difference is the use of a scratchpad. For the At-home GMAT test, you will be given an option for an Online or physical Whiteboard, whereas a scratchpad is provided at the center. If you are taking the GMAT at home, you need to purchase the Whiteboard through any of the online retailers like Amazon.

Practice taking online GMAT on floating Whiteboard with video tutorials.

Breaks during the Exam

There are two optional breaks for 8 mins each for both in-center and online exam. 

Retaking the GMAT

One retake is now allowed for the at-home Exam. On the other hand, you can retake the in-center test up to 5 times in any 12 months (no more than once in a 16-day period). If you took the GMAT Online twice during a 12-month period, you could sit for the in-person GMAT 3 times during that same 12-month period

For in-center GMAT you have 8 attempts over the course of your lifetime while for online GMAT you have just 2 attempts. In total( GMAT online + in-center), you are allowed five GMAT attempts in a rolling 12-month period and 8 in a lifetime.

How to choose between the GMAT Online and In-center Exam?

You should have a good power supply, internet, and a quiet place to take the GMAT online exam. According to Sehar, in-center is better if you do not have a calm place in your room or have unstable internet, speed, or power cuts. There is resilience built in the system already. But still, make sure the requirements are fulfilled.

Know more about the GMAT Online Exam requirements and process.

There are a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages of taking the online or in-center Exam. But which test to choose depends on your comfort level.

No test is better than the other. It depends on what you are comfortable with, and after knowing the difference, you will be able to choose between the Online GMAT and In-center exam. 

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FAQs on whether to take GMAT Online or In-Center Exam?

Can I take the GMAT Online using Mobile Hotspot?

No. It is not recommended. While taking the GMAT Online Exam, you are not allowed to keep any devices near you. There are guidelines set by GMAC, on how your exam environment should be. Thus, if you use the mobile hotspot, you need to keep your phone away from you, which can lead to network issues because of the range.

I am planning to take my test in September. The closest GMAT center for me is 250 km away. What should I do?

Taking into consideration that the Test center is quite far, it is recommended that you take the GMAT Online exam. GMAC has recently announced that you can now take the GMAT Online exam till December 31, 2020. Thus, you can easily take the at-home option.

I am not comfortable using Whiteboard, but I need to take the GMAT by August. What should I do?

You can either take GMAT Online or in-center Exam. However, make sure that the test center near you is open. If the test center has resumed, make sure that you carry your mask, which you also need to wear during the exam. If not, you can take the GMAT Online Exam with a Physical Whiteboard option.

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