How Much Does the GMAT Cost? | GMAT Preparation Tips

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“How Much Does the GMAT Cost?” GMAT Preparation Tips 

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, has been a rite of passage for applicants to MBA programs and to other business-focused master’s degree programs. Even though many business schools accept GRE scores in lieu of the GMAT or even offer a waiver process to exempt you from taking the exam, learning how to prepare for the GMAT is still an extremely common experience for many professionals.

If you are currently in the GMAT preparation process and looking for answers to questions like “How much does the GMAT cost?”, read on and learn everything you need to know to position yourself for success on the exam.

Basics of the GMAT: Cost, Structure, and Experience 

As of 2019, the registration fee for the GMAT exam is $250. It is, however, possible to incur additional GMAT costs if you need to reschedule or cancel your exam, or if you decide you should cancel your score after you take the exam. Many business school students also invest in preparatory materials for the exam. The Graduate Management Admission Council offers a free downloadable guide for the exam, but study guides, software, and practice tests are also available for a cost.

As you start your GMAT preparation, you’ll quickly discover that the exam is divided into four sections, which emphasizes a targeted skill required to thrive in contemporary business settings:

Analytical Writing Assessment, which tests critical thinking skills and asks you to write and communicate an argument
Integrated Reasoning, which assesses your ability to integrate data in the form of graphs, spreadsheets, and text into your decision-making
Quantitative, which addresses your mathematical skills and your capacity to discern data sufficiency
Verbal, which focuses on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and written language proficiency

While the GMAT exam may be given at any of hundreds of GMAT testing centers located across the globe, your experience on your test day will follow a similar pattern. You will be asked to check with photo identification, digitally sign a statement agreeing to the rules and sit for a digital photograph. Your GMAT will be taken on a computer and takes up to three-and-a-half hours. After the test which you will immediately receive your unofficial scores.

The Graduate Management Admission Council has an online tool to help you find the closest GMAT testing center closest to your location (including on military bases) and around the world. Find your testing site well ahead of your desired exam date and leave yourself plenty of time for GMAT preparation.

How to Prepare for the GMAT 

In addition to the wealth of digital materials GMAC provides to prospective test-takers, the council also outlines some best practices for GMAT preparation to help you perform your best on the exam. These tips include:5

Review for one section at a time. It’s easy to get lost by the amount of information and skills you will need to have at hand to succeed on the GMAT, so concentrate your energy on a specific subject area until you feel comfortable with it, and then move on to the next.

Practice pacing yourself. Because of the timed nature of the exam, one of the most important skills you can bring to the testing center is a keen sense of timing. Complete practice exams with a timer running so you become comfortable with how quickly you’ll need to work to complete all of the questions in the allotted time.

Review math basics. If you’ve been out of school for some time, it’s likely you haven’t needed to use basic mathematics skills in a while. Brush up on basic arithmetic and on key statistical and logical concepts that might come up on the exam to avoid being surprised by anything you encounter.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the location of your testing center and the best route to reach it on test day. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled exam to account for any unforeseen traffic or check-in issues. Make sure to review GMAC’s list of permissible and impermissible items to ensure you’re not caught off-guard when you arrive at your testing center, and be sure to have an official photo ID on hand. Finally, think ahead about the order in which you’d like to take the sections of the exam so that you are ready to hit the ground running as soon as your GMAT begins.


Are You Eligible for a GMAT Waiver? 

Most business schools often offer waivers for the GMAT to allow you to avoid the entire potentially stressful exam process. These waivers usually granted on the basis of a history of professional and/or academic accomplishment that a school’s admissions committee deems sufficient to demonstrate a level of aptitude that signals your likely success in a graduate business program.

If you are interested in petitioning for a GMAT waiver, be sure to do so well ahead of the application deadline for your desired start date to leave yourself enough time to take the exam if you are required to do so. If you are applying to a graduate business school that offers multiple degree programs, the criteria by which you are evaluated for a potential GMAT waiver may differ between programs.


Make the Most of Your GMAT

You may select up to five schools to receive an official score report for free, and add additional schools for a fee after you take the exam and receive your own score report – select which school or schools you would like your scores to be delivered to ahead of your testing date.

Once you have taken the GMAT exam, consider utilizing your sure-to-be-great score to apply for an Online MBA or Online MSBA. For more graduate business school application advice, check out our blog posts on polishing your resume and asking your employer for financial aid.

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