Skip to main content

What happens on the day of the GMAT?

The GMAT is administered in the same way to everyone (except those students who have requested and been approved for accommodations due to disability). The GMAT is a standardized test not only in the questions it asks, but also in the way students can expect their test day to go—everyone will have a very similar experience when taking the GMAT, and needs to adhere to the same set of rules.

It’s a good idea to arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before the start of your appointment. There are several procedures that occur before you can start your exam, and they take some time.

You’ll start by going to the check-in desk, and agree to the testing rules and regulations by signing a digital signature pad. Then the check-in attendant will ask you to confirm your identity by presenting valid and accepted forms of identification, take a reading of your palm vein pattern, and take a digital photograph of you. This is required of all test-takers.

After check-in and identification procedures have occurred, you will be asked to put all non-allowed belongings (including cell phones, calculators, jackets, and food) into a locker provided to you. You must do this before you can enter the testing room.

The testing proctor will then provide you with a notebook and marker (you will use this as scratch paper—you are not allowed to bring in your own), go over testing protocol, escort you to your testing station, and sign you in to your test.

Before you start the test, you will have to agree to a non-disclosure statement, and enter the business schools (up to five) that you want to have receive your scores. If you want more reports sent, you will have to pay extra for them.

After your agreement and school selection, you can begin the test. Expect the test to take around three and a half hours (breaks included). You have the option of taking two scheduled 8-minute breaks during the test. To take breaks, you must raise your hand and wait for the proctor to come to you and escort you out of the testing room.

Once you are done with the test, you will be given the option to keep or discard your scores from the test administration you just took. You must make the decision before you are shown your scores. If you choose to keep your scores, you will be given an unofficial GMAT score report, and the scores will also be included in your official GMAT score report. If you choose not to keep your scores, your report will show that you took the test but cancelled your score.

For more information about GMAT test-day procedures (including a very useful informational video) see this page on the official GMAT website, and the GMAT Handbook.