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What to Expect on GMAT Test Day

Posted in Test Prep on July 8, 2011 by

You’ve spent weeks (months…years…) studying; you’ve sacrificed your social life and sleep schedule. And now, the moment of truth has finally arrived.

It’s time to take the GMAT.

But wait! Before you set foot in your hallowed neighborhood test center, make sure you know what to expect. Don’t let a logistical oversight put all those months of Data Sufficiency drilling and Critical Reasoning cramming at risk.

Here’s what you need to know.

What to bring:

The most important thing to bring is a government-issued, valid, original, legible ID. Think: driver’s license, government-issued ID, military ID, permanent resident/green card, or passport.

The nitty-gritty ID requirements:

  • Can’t be expired
  • No photocopies
  • Must have a recent, recognizable photo on it
  • Must have your name in the Roman alphabet, spelled the same as the name you registered under
  • Must have your signature on it

Your ID is the most important thing you need to bring. You should also pack a snack or two to have during scheduled breaks. You’ll have to keep this — along with your wallet, purse, phone, and any other personal belongings — in a storage locker. You can access the snack (and any necessary medication) during scheduled breaks, but you must leave everything else in the locker. No testing aids (calculators, stopwatches, dictionaries, beepers, pagers, etc) are allowed in the test center.

The test administrator will provide you with everything else you need to take the test, including a scratch pad and marker.

What to wear:


Something comfortable! This is one occasion when a sweatsuit is actually appropriate. Save the fancy business suit for your MBA interviews. And be sure to dress in layers – you don’t want to be sweltering or freezing while taking the test.

When to get there:

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam

You should plan on arriving at the test center with at least 30 minutes to spare. Look up directions ahead of time and be sure to account for contingencies like parking, traffic jams, and possible public transportation delays. If you arrive at the test center after your scheduled exam time, there is a possibility that you will not be able to take the test and will be forced to forfeit your $250 testing fee.

What will happen when I arrive?

First things first: the test administrator will ask to see your ID. He or she will also take your photograph, your digital signature and/or palm vein pattern, and ask you to agree to the GMAT Examination Testing Rules & Agreement.

You will take the GMAT on a computer, in a room filled with other computers and other students taking standardized tests (depending on the test center, they may also be taking the GMAT or they may be taking other exams). Before you begin, you will have to sign the GMAT Nondisclosure Agreement and General Terms of Use Statement.

Before beginning the test, you will also be able to designate up to 5 programs to receive an Official Score Report within 20 days of your test. These 5 score reports are covered by your $250 registration fee; it will cost you $28 for each additional score report.

What order will the test sections be in?

If you’ve taken full-length practice tests (as you should!), you’ll already be familiar with the order of the sections on the GMAT. But just in case, here’s the lowdown:

1. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): 60 minutes

  • Analysis of an Issue Essay: 30 minutes
  • Analysis of an Argument Essay: 30 minutes

2. Optional break: 8 minutes

3. Quantitative Section: 75 minutes

4. Optional break: 8 minutes

3. Verbal Section: 75 minutes

Can I take another break if I need it?

If you need another break (besides the two scheduled 8-minute breaks before and after the quantitative section), you can raise your hand and alert the test proctor. However, time will not stop during any unscheduled break, so these should be taken only in the case of an emergency.

Will I get my score the day of the test?

Yes, you will get an unofficial score report immediately after the test. Your Official Score Report will be available within 20 days to you and the programs you requested to receive them.

What else should I know?

  • Audio and video are recorded at all test centers during all exams. If you do not agree to this, you won’t be allowed to take the test.
  • Still want to know more? For more info, visit or check out the video below for a tour of a sample testing center!