GMAT Key Facts

Take The GMAT: Key Facts and Changes

2006 has ushered in a wave of changes in the administration process (not the actual test content) of the GMAT. This is a result of the General Management Admission Council (GMAC)'s decision to switch from its previous test administrator ETS (Educational Testing Service) to Pearson VUE (, the electronic testing business of Pearson. Pearson (NYSE: PSO; LSE: PSON) is an international media company, whose other businesses include the Financial Times Group, Pearson Education, and the Penguin Group. The new contract between GMAC and Peason Vue has a term of 7 years, expiring in 2013.

On January 4, 2006, Pearson VUE began to administer the GMAT. Despite the new change, GMAC, the owner of the GMAT, will still be responsible for setting the standards for the exam itself including format, question types, difficulty levels, adaptive design, etc.

This new partnership between the GMAC and Pearson VUE provides:

  • A broader test center network (more than 400 locations in nearly 100 countries) with biometrically enhanced equipment
  • On-line score report which ensures a reliable, timely, and efficient approach to both test takers and admissions offices (Hard copy of score report is available upon request)
  • Improved overall customer service, in particular, secure on-line test registration worldwide

We have summarized and prioritized the key changes affecting the test taker as follows:

You can take the GMAT only ONCE every 31 days.

The old rule allowed people to take the exam first on March 31st and again on April 1st, as the criterion was "once per calendar month". Now you are permitted to take the test only once every 31 days.

Though we generally recommend our students to ace the test on their first try, it is wise to leave yourself some scheduling flexibility for a second attempt if necessary. Schedule your GMAT 5 to 6 weeks prior to your application deadline.

A side note: If you receive a perfect score of 800, you may not retake the exam for 5 years.

Replacement of Scratch Paper with Erasable Laminated Graph Paper.

No longer will the test taker be permitted to use scratch paper, instead the testing center will provide each candidate with 10 pages of yellow laminated legal-size graph paper and a special black-ink pen which resembles a fine point black-ink sharpie marker. Each page consists of 33 rectangular boxes across and 71 down, with some margins around the border.

Page 1 displays a disclaimer and information on how to adjust your chair and pages 2 through 10 are yellow laminated graph paper. The ink is erasable, but the testing center does not provide erasers, therefore if you do fill up the whiteboard, the testing center will provide you with additional pages. Likewise, if the ink of your marker starts to fade or the tip flattens, you may request a new one.

We think using graph paper is a good way to track the alphabetic choices given in a problem, sketch geometrical figures to scale, and keep calculation steps in order. To get yourself familiar with the new instruments, try to practice with laminated graph paper (or just graph paper or just laminated paper) and a sharpie style pen.

You cannot skip AWA and must complete the entire test.

No longer will you be permitted to ignore the essay section of the test. You must take the test in its set order and in its entirely, including the essay section, or your scores will not be processed.

All scores and cancellations in the past 5 years will be on your score report.

No longer will only your last 3 scores/cancellations be noted on your score report, but all of the scores you received or cancelled in the last 5 years will be noted on your score report.

We recommend you only cancel your score if you are sure that your performance is not indicative of your normal and true ability, due to unusual reasons such as health, emotions, accident, disturbing testing environment, etc. By canceling the score, you avoid showing an inconsistency of your test performance which might be a red flag for admissions officers.

Otherwise, you should get your score so that you can get an objective evaluation of what you stand against other GMAT test takers and your strengths and weaknesses. As long as you demonstrate consistent and improved test results, reporting the score is generally preferred over cancellation.

You will receive your official score report on-line via an email notification 20 days after test day. Paper score report will be available via mail upon request only.

Based on our students' experience, it takes exactly 20 days for them to receive an email notification. You will still receive an unofficial copy of your scores immediately after completing the exam and prior to leaving the testing center. Typically you may fax or bring in a copy of the unofficial GMAT score report to be used to process your MBA application until the official scores arrive from the testing services. MBA programs usually can use the unofficial score report to make a recommendation on an application, but the official GMAT scores must reach the school before an official offer of admission can be made.