19 Oct 2021 11:19 IST

'GMAT online exam is now a permanent option'

The number of test-takers in India hit an all-time high in Q1 of FY2021, says Gaurav Srivastava of GMAC.

In just a month after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), owned and administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), introduced the GMAT online exam. When test centres started shutting down, including the ones on campuses, the remotely proctored online assessment was made available to MBA aspirants in April 2020.

Gaurav Srivastava, Regional Director, South Asia, GMAC.


Close to 200,000 candidates worldwide take the GMAT exam each year. There was an initial apprehension towards taking an important exam online, says Gaurav Srivastava, Regional Director, South Asia, GMAC. “Many students thought they could wait it out and abandoned their plans to study abroad. There was a false hope that the pandemic would recede in a few months. But when students realised the severity of the pandemic, they adapted to the online exam.” 

GMAT 2.0

Initially, there were several differences between the online version and the test centre version. With trial and error, and feedback from test-takers, the online GMAT exam has evolved since it was first launched. Now, the online exam is a replica of the test-centre version. It includes two optional 8-minute breaks, the convenience of choosing the section order you want to attempt, the option of using physical and online whiteboards, previewing unofficial scores immediately, and the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section, which was earlier omitted in the previous online versions. Both online and offline is available all around the year with five attempts in a rolling 12-month period.

One other significant breakthrough in India is the acceptance of the Aadhaar card as valid ID proof. “The only ID proof allowed was the passport. But I really pushed back with the folks in the US. If a passport has expired, or one is yet to apply, it is extremely difficult to visit a passport office and sort it out during pandemic times. Moreover, students in small towns are required to travel to a city nearby. Aadhar card makes all the difference.”

US, still a preferred destination

By June 2020, as the hesitancy subsided, the number of test-takers registering for the online exam went up. Although GMAC had introduced the GMAT online exam because of the pandemic, it will now be a permanent option, says Srivastava.

The US is still the most preferred destination for Indian students. The GMAC witnessed a holding pattern and a slight dip in 2017-2018 because of the US political climate, which inhibited Indian candidates from looking to study in the US. In the meantime, countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia gained at the expense of the US. Even destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong started gaining popularity. But the number of test-takers went up Covid vaccinations were ramped up and the change in administration in the US also helped.

“We have seen strong growth in the past year. In Q1 of FY2021, the number of test-takers in India hit an all-time high because of the pent-up demand, the change in the political establishment in the US, and the introduction of the online GMAT exam,” says Srivastava.