The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has announced that it will allow physical whiteboards for those taking the GMAT at home beginning June 11. The Executive Assessment Online will also offer the option of a physical whiteboard. The decision was made after significant pressure was put on the organization against the unwieldy online whiteboard tool for the at-home exam. GMAC has also extended the availability of the online GMAT from June 15 to July 17, and will open additional dates as needed.
Many test-takers switched to the online GRE, which came out almost a month before the online GMAT, and allows the use of a physical whiteboard with an erasable marker, or paper with a transparent sheet protector and erasable marker, to take notes and do calculations. Test-takers can use one erasable whiteboard no larger than 12 inches x 20 inches, one dry-erase marker, and one marker eraser.
Some students who were afraid that the online whiteboard would cost them points on their GMAT score traveled hundreds of miles to open test centers in order to take the exam in person.
GMAC has seen online scores comparable with those taken in test centers. “We’ve heard the market and are excited to provide candidates with options and additional flexibility, helping ensure they can be at their best on exam day,” stated Vineet Chhabra, senior director and head of the GMAT product at GMAC.
Months of frustration lead to change
GMAC first announced the availability of the online GMAT almost two months ago. At the time, there was no practice tool or tutorial on how to use it. Within days of the announcement scores of students voiced frustration and anger with the online whiteboard piece of the test.
Close to 2,500 test-takers signed an online petition demanding that they be allowed to use pen and paper to take the test. This led to the creation of an online practice whiteboard less than two weeks after the initial announcement. However, test-taking experts were suggesting 10-20 hours of practice to perfect use of the online tool. There were glitches, software bugs, and poorly trained test proctors. All of these frustrations led to students traveling to states with open test centers.
Positive response to change
First responses were positive from professionals who help with exam prep. But will those who test after the change have an advantage over those who signed up early and tested with the online whiteboard? According to a GMAC spokesperson, applicants who tested without access to a physical whiteboard will be allowed to test again.
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