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GMAT Tip: Pros & Cons of New GMAT Features

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It’s nice to have choices (would you have ever choose a free response test over multiple choice?), but sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. The Graduate Management Admission Council rolled out some new GMAT features this year that give you more choices than you could have previously imagined. While most test takers are rejoicing at the options, let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of the newfound choices:

16 day retest policy (replacing 31 days): Test takers (and schools) were doing cartwheels when this update was announced because every year there are handfuls of candidates who wait until the last week or two before an application deadline to take the GMAT (with the thought that every last minute of prep is valuable or they’re simply juggling too much between GMAT prep and application writing). Yes, this new feature gives newfound flexibility and convenience, but the first rule of GMAT preparation is to build in a buffer so you have time to retest if needed. Further, there’s not much you’ll likely be able to improve upon, learn and master in two weeks. As you’ve hopefully learned by now, GMAT preparation is a long journey that requires dedication as well as continued and consistent practice. Unless something catastrophic happens on test day to significantly impact your test (e.g. food poisoning, mis-judging break length and missing part of a section) AND you have a program deadline within 30 days, you may want to consider scheduling another test administration more than 16 days out. That will give you time to take a step back, analyze your strengths and weaknesses (perhaps via the Enhanced Score Report?) and come up with a targeted plan to make significant improvements.

Score Cancellation & Score Preview: You’ve always had the ability to cancel your scores at the test center, but it also meant explaining to schools why there was no reportable score on your testing history. Now, in a move similar to College Board and other testing agencies, you can wipe away a less-than-stellar score, and no one has to know you even signed up for the GMAT (unless of course you made it Facebook or Twitter official and posted about it ahead of time). It’s important to spend time thinking about a score range you’d be happy with on test day, commit to it, and refuse to deviate. The good news is you’ve got 60 days to reinstate a cancelled score (for a fee of course!), so if you retest and your new score goes down, you still have time to reinstate the first one. Don’t lose too much sleep on this process though. While it’s a nice-to-have feature, it should really serve as a safety net in case things don’t go as planned.

Enhanced Score Report (ESR): For test takers who don’t perform as well as they were hoping, the ESR gives you a peek under the hood at your test experience and performance by providing detailed information on time management and pacing as well as strengths and weaknesses. The upside to this is if you’re unsure of where you’re losing time by question type (e.g. critical reasoning vs reading comprehension), this will highlight trends. The downside is while you receive ranking information e.g. how you performed compared to three years of GMAT test takers, you don’t receive specific information on how many questions you answered correctly or what the level of difficulty was for those particular questions. The product also assumes that you’re signing up to take the GMAT a second or third time, though for candidates who have tested as recently as October 1, 2013, there’s some historical data that might provide some insights. Best bet? Leverage the data and diagnostic information provided through GMATPrep before signing up for the real deal.

You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to the GMAT and preparation, and choices are a great thing! But be sure to take some time now to develop a game plan for retesting and score goals so you’re not overwhelmed on test day.

The above GMAT Tip comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry.

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