A 8 minute read

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

The whole world is fighting against COVID-19, but in these testing times, even a small ray of hope can encourage us. And that’s precisely how we feel about GMAC’s decision to allow taking the GMAT at Home. However, with the test centers resuming in India and other parts of the world, you got to make a decision – Whether to choose GMAT Online or In-center Exam?

To help you decide between the in-center and GMAT online exam, we talked to Sehar Khanna, a GMAC representative. This article is based on the advantages and disadvantages that GMAT online has over the in-center Exam. Watch this video or read the article to understand the differences better:

 

In this article, we compare GMAT Online vs. In-center Exam on various parameters and answer a crucial question – Which GMAT Exam version is better for you?

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GMAT Online vs. GMAT in-Center Exam

Here are the parameters on which we have compared both the exams:

  1. Exam Structure
  2. Registration, Rescheduling and Cancellation Fee
  3. GMAT Online vs. in-center Exam – Are the scores comparable?
  4. Experience and Policies

GMAT Online Vs. In-Center Exam – Key Differences

One of the key differences between the two exams is that GMAT online exam does not count in your number of attempts. The total lifetime limit to take the GMAT test is eight, and if you take the online GMAT test, you will still have eight attempts left.

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

GMAT Online vs. In-Center Exam

Parameters GMAT Online Exam In-center GMAT Exam
Structure
Number of sections

Three Sections – Quant, Verbal, and IR.

From April 8, 2021, you will be able to write your AWA assessment

Four Sections – Quant, Verbal, IR, and AWA
Duration of the Test Approx. 2 hours 37 mins Approx. 3 hours 7 mins
Order of the Sections Fixed: Quant Verbal IR

From April 8, 2021, you will be able to choose the section order. 

 

 

Select the order from:

 

 

1.  AWA IR Quant Verbal

2. Verbal Quant IR AWA

3.   Quant Verbal IR AWA

Cost
Registration Fee $250 $250 
Rescheduling Fee $25 Temporarily Waived
Cancellation Fee Can Cancel 24 hours before the appointment, with a fee of $100 Temporarily Waived
Reporting scores to schools Infinite schools with no fees You can send your scores to 5 schools for free. Extra $35 for additional school
Scoring
Section scores, Total Scores, along with percentile  Same Same
Score Scale Same Same
Validity 5 years 5 years
Canceling the Score Not Allowed Allowed
Experience and Policies
Place No Commute. Take the GMAT at Home You need to Travel to the center and wear a mask while taking the test
Material Provided Online or Physical Whiteboard Option Scratchpad
Breaks 1 Break: 5 mins. From April 8, 2021, you will have two breaks, 8 min each.  2 Breaks: 8 mins each
Retaking the Exam Two retakes are allowed Five times in any 12 months, but no more than once in any 16-day period
Booking the slot Twice 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. However, there is no AWA section on the GMAT Online exam due to which the total duration of the test is cut short by 30 mins. That means now you can complete the test in 2 hr 37 mins rather than 3 hr 7 mins. 

Besides, with the AWA section removed, you now have more time to prepare for other sections of the GMAT Exam.  

*Note that starting April 8, 2021, the AWA section will also be available. 

There have been concerns regarding How to use the GMAT online score in the future if a college asks for the AWA section?

As stated by Sehar Khanna, “Before launching the online GMAT, we did discuss with the schools. They have given the assurance and confidence to us that they are going to take care of testing a candidate’s writing skills. You don’t have to take the in-center GMAT, just for your AWA score. Besides, schools can evaluate your writing abilities through essays, and they are more than happy to consider GMAT online.”

Check out the other parts of your MBA application that can make up for the AWA section, such as LOR and Essays.

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. However, you need to follow a fixed section order for GMAT online, i.e., Quant → Verbal → IR. * Note that starting April 8, 2021, you will be able to choose your section order. 

For the in-center 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 2020.

Registration, Rescheduling, and Cancellation Fees

The GMAT Online Exam used to be $50 cheaper ($75 cheaper in the US) than the in-person GMAT test cost. The registration fee now is $250 for Online GMAT and $250 for the in-center GMAT exam.

Currently, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are no rescheduling and cancellation fees charged for in-center Exams. However, if you opt for the GMAT Online exam you will be charged a rescheduling and cancellation fee. 

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).

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!

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 when you take the test at the center. However, the online GMAT exam only has one 5 mins break between the verbal and IR section. Starting April 8, 2021, you will have 2 optional breaks, 8 mins each for GMAT 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).

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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23 thoughts on “GMAT Online Vs. In-Center GMAT – Which version is better?”

  1. if i apply and pay 250$ for gmat and i take the online exam and if the score is not good can i retake the exam offline without paying again ??

  2. Hi,
    Could you help me with just 1 question i.e. Will the schools Like IIM’s in India and the schools abroad will accept online GMAT score for the 2022 intake applications next year.
    So incase, I decide to opt for next year’s admission cycle, will the schools accept my online score then? For instance, IIM application portals mention that they will accept online scores only for this year’s admission cycle as an “exception” only for this year.

    1. Hey
      The GMAT Online score just like the ‘in-center’ GMAT score is valid for 5 years. You can apply with your GMAT Online score to business schools across the world till your score is valid i.e., for 5 years. So, if you take the GMAT Online this year, you can definitely apply to business schools next year with the same GMAT score.

  3. [Urgent] : I have a GMAT online exam tomorrow. I had taken the offline GMAT exam few days back and accepted the score of 670. I would like to know if I score less than 670 in the online exam tomorrow, will I be able to not accept the new score and continue with the previous score?

    1. Hey Swati

      In the GMAT Online you won’t be able to see your score immediately after completing the test which is the case in the in-center GMAT. Official scores will be sent to your registered email within 7 business days of completing the exam.
      GMAT Online exam also gives candidates control to decide when they are ready to send their score to programs. Included with the GMAT Online exam fee, you will have the opportunity to first view your official score and then choose to send your score to selected programs.

    1. It depends if your country is charging additional VAT on the base price of USD 200. For example, in India no additional tax is charged over the USD 200 registration fee.

        1. I verified this information. You are correct. 18% tax is being charged for the GMAT Online in India. However, no extra tax is being charged on the in-center GMAT registration fee of $250.

        1. I verified this information. You are correct. 18% tax is being charged for the GMAT Online in India. However, no extra tax is being charged on the in-center GMAT registration fee of $250.

  4. Hi, if I take the online attempt followed by the offline one, am I still needed to maintain a gap of 16 days?

  5. If I take the online exam, do I have options to not send my score to my preferred school because I’m not satisfied with the result, without cancelling them? Is GMAC considering to allow retakes for online exam in the future, if the test center closure persist?

  6. Hi, Could you please help me with these questions –

    1. If I take the online gmat and I am not happy with the score and want to take a test center gmat – then does the 16 day wait rule still apply between the online gmat and the test center gmat?

    2. The article states that if your score is below expectations you can send scores to tier 2 schools and in a later attempt send scores to your top 5, but when I send the scores to my top 5 (in the later attempt) won’t they already have access to my earlier scores?

    Many thanks in advance

  7. Hi All,

    I am ready to take the test. But, Only problem I am facing here is that sometimes My internet connection disconnects suddenly.
    I have powerBackup. So no issues..Any Idea How can I resolve this issue?
    Please help me

  8. Why does the mba.com website, in the policies section say “Pearson VUE Test centers in the country you currently reside must be closed due to COVID-19 (coronavirus)”
    I stay in Mumbai. firstly, I’m not sure whether centres are open, secondly, considering the number of cases in Mumbai, I’m not very comfortable travelling to an exam centre. can I still take the online exam?

  9. Though my internet is stable but sometimes power cuts do happen. So if I immediately arrange for another internet connection using my mobile hotspot(I’ll keep the mobile in adjacent room)will the test resume ? If yes then it’ll be great.

    1. In case of a power cut if you immediately arrange for a backup internet connection the test will resume. However, tethering to a mobile hotspot is explicitly prohibited by GMAC. So, there are 2 ways you can solve this problem.
      Either use a dongle or use a router UPS in case you’re using a wireless connection.

  10. Can you give the online exam with a physical whiteboard and then give the offline exam if the scores of the online exam aren’t good enough?

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Co-founder, e-GMAT
Welcome to e-GMAT Support!
I am Payal, Co-Founder of e-GMAT.
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