What you need to know about taking the GMAT online exam this 2021
The AWA is an integral part of the exam as it allows students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and ability to communicate ideas. Source:

In response to the pandemic, GMAC swiftly introduced the GMAT online exam — structured closely to the regular exam — early last year after in-person testing was suspended in many locations worldwide.

In under a year, GMAC has released several enhancements to the GMAT online exam experience, including the use of physical and online whiteboards, disability accommodations, and the option to retake the GMAT online exam.

“We’re focused on providing the flexibility and support to address the long-term needs of schools and test-takers,” said GMAC’s Chief Product Officer and General Manager of Assessments Joy Jones.

“As we continue to adjust to uncertainties of the new norm, our online exams become a vital standard option, providing test-takers around the world with the confidence to test in a test centre or online to meet their business school application needs,” said Jones.

“There was interest from schools to include the AWA online, and we worked to make this happen to support application cycle seasonality. We’ll continue to make investments that support our schools and test-takers with enhanced and comparable online and test centre exam experiences.”

Since the GMAT online exam launched, over 45,000 exams have been delivered in more than 150 countries, territories, and special administrative regions to support global demand.

Changes to GMAT online exam

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently announced changes to the GMAT online exam.

In a press release, GMAC — the owner and administrator of the test — said some of the test enhancements include the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section to the GMAT online.

“To respond to rapidly changing marketing dynamics, some GMAT features were omitted from the initial GMAT online exam launch, including the AWA section,” said GMAC.

“However, the AWA section has remained an integral part of the GMAT exam, providing business schools with important insight and candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to communicate ideas.”

Apart from the introduction of the AWA section to the online exam, other enhancements include:

  • the ability to preview unofficial test scores immediately
  • additional and extended breaks
  • the convenience to select the order in which the sections of the exam are taken

Registration for the enhanced GMAT online exam is open for appointment dates beginning April 8, 2021.

Testing appointments are available for the current version of the online exam through April 7, 2021.

What aspiring GMAT test-takers should know

In a nutshell, beginning April 8, both the online and test centre exams will have the same four sections: the AWA, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning said GMAT product management senior manager (assessments) Anjali McKenzie on the Inside the GMAT podcast.

In both cases, the exams are about three hours and seven minutes and candidates will also have the option to take two optional eight-minute breaks.

McKenzie said the AWA is an integral part of the exam as it allows students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and ability to communicate ideas.

The GMAT online exam has already been made a permanent option for students looking to take the GMAT exam.