When I started my GMAT journey, I scored a 480 on my first diagnostic test. I spent 6 months with the Economist GMAT Tutor and scored 600 on my first official GMAT and then I spent an additional 3 months with Empower to improve to 680. Max and Rich from EmpowerGMAT gave me the strategic boost I needed to improve my timing, guessing strategy, and tactics to boost my score above my initial 600 score. They also ONLY use official guide GMAT questions, which really boosted my performance and confidence on exam day. For anyone contemplating the Online GMAT I wanted to share my own thoughts and experiences, as a normal test taker.
What I liked:
Home Environment: Taking the exam from the comfort of my home on a familiar computer definitely eased my nerves.
Virtual Note Taking: The verbal section of the exam felt very comfortable, because my note taking was much faster on the virtual format vs. the traditional scratch pad.
Shorter Testing Window: Removing the essay portion made the exam feel more digestible in one sitting. I didn't feel completely dead when I finished.
Seamless Proctor Experience: I took a few photos of my room, of myself, of my ID and the exam quickly started from there. I didn't receive any annoying pings from the proctor throughout, and although you could see yourself, I wasn't overly distracted by that.
Free Official Test Reports: I appreciate that I had the option to send my score AFTER the exam AND for free. I hope this change carries over into the traditional GMAT format.
Cheaper Price: This speaks for itself!
What I didn't like:
Virtual Whiteboard: I was enraged when I heard the news on the whiteboad. GMAT really changed the entire GMAT experience with this new whiteboard. Luckily it didn't impact my performance too much. Yes, I scored 30 points below my last and best practice exam (with a traditional scratch pad), but I'm within the margin of error. I think the virtual whiteboard had more of an impact mentally than anything else. After reading so many warning messages to NOT take the exam, I felt extra anxious, but I'm not sure that extra anxiety was actually warranted. And I suspect the extra anxiety dropped my score more than anything else. I typically use my scratch pad for basic arithmetic and for setting up algebraic equations. A few days before the exam, I practiced long division, adding / subtracting fractions, multiplication, and shape drawing. As long as the test taker feels comfortable performing those basic functions on a new platform, I'd recommend that person to take the exam. There is a learning curve for sure, but after my untimed practice and doodling on the virtual model for one day, I felt comfortable enough.
Delayed Exam Score: This is just annoying. You study for months and months and then have to wait 7 days. The suspense killed me. I also wasn't exactly sure what to share with schools I applied to. It was totally unclear when they could expect my official score report. Originally GMAC said 7 days, and then they changed the official score report to being available starting May 1st.
Home Distractions: I have a dog at home who decided to play with every squeaky toy she had in another room. You absolutely cannot talk during the GMAT, so folks should make sure outside distractions (like dog toys) are hidden before the exam. That's another thing -- I've heard of proctors interrupting test takers who are mumbling to themselves. I was quietly mumbling to myself and didn't encounter any issues, so that felt like a win.
5 Minute Break: You're not allowed to leave the room except for this break. I tried to message my proctor just to say -- FYI I'm taking a break. They were completely MIA, but with the clock ticking, I decided to take a bathroom break anyway. This was kind of annoying, and I was worried they might think I was cheating. Improved proctoring of the break is definitely a must. I also noticed that the person who started my exam was different from the person that eventually came around during my break. That was odd.
Overall verdict -- the online GMAT still felt very much like the GMAT. Per any GMAT exam, I saw a few questions that were totally crazy, and others that seemed super easy. On GMAT club some folks speculated that the Online GMAT exam would probably be more "mental math." I'd say that's 100% false. I didn't notice any sort of change in type or style of questions. Folks should fully expect a traditional GMAT question bank, but with a little practice, the virtual whiteboard will feel less foreign. Regarding test prep, I'm not the strongest test taker, so it took me 10 months to rise from 480 to 680. GMAT is like training for a sporting event; you can and WILL get better, but you need to believe in yourself. I wanted to quit so many times, so when I saw 680 on the screen, I took it and ran. YOU CAN DO IT!! Stay positive!
480 to 680 via Online GMAT
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