Taking the GMAT or GRE at Home: Standardized Testing in the Age of COVID-19

February 24, 2021

In the past century, standardized testing has become a topic of educational and philosophical debate for exam administrators and prospective students alike. This year one thing is for certain: the pandemic has shifted the model for standardized testing and preparation

Taking the GMAT or GRE at Home: Standardized Testing In the Age of COVID-19

How to study and take the exam(s) from the comfort of your home.

By Emily Guajardo

In a study conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, renowned educational assessment and testing policy expert, Dr. Daniel Koretz, explained the effects and challenges when presenting and executing standardized testing for entrance into higher levels of education. While the article explains the social and theoretical issues around standardized testing, one thing is for certain: the pandemic has erratically shifted the model for standardized testing and preparation.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is considered one of the most important steps in the application process when considering whether to attend many graduate programs. However, since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, many prospective students are left in a state of uncertainty and confusion when it comes to test requirements, location and preparation.

While some universities have removed the GRE and/or GMAT from their list of requirements for the next term, many still use these exams as a key predictor of academic success in a full-time and some online MBA programs.

So, what does GRE and GMAT test preparation and exam administration look like during the outbreak? Here are some updates, quick tips and strategies to help you excel during the pandemic:

    At-Home Testing is Now Available

    Due to the closure of testing sites, exam administrators have created cohesive and easy-to-use at home GRE and online GMAT exams that can be accessed from anywhere (with the exception of a few international locations). The exam is also monitored and conducted using live remote proctors and artificial intelligence technology that uses facial recognition, gaze tracking and video recording of the entire session to ensure no cheating occurs. Identical in content and format, the at home exams use the same on-screen experience and scoring as given at a test center. Overall, students no longer have to wait for testing sites to reopen, which is a great advantage to have as term admission dates get closer.

    Improved Exam Fee Reduction Vouchers for Unemployed and Low-Income Students

    It's no secret that the pandemic has left millions of Americans without gainful employment or access to other benefits. In a Pew Research study, nearly 20.5 million Americans were unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, students who are interested in taking the GRE exam, but do not have the funds to pay for it can apply for an exam fee reduction voucher valued at having 50% of the general cost covered. Don't let unemployment stop you from taking the exam if it's still required by your desired graduate program.

    Accommodations Available for Some Students

    With virtual test taking newly available, the GRE and GMAT have developed extra measures to ensure the safety of and fairness to students who may need accommodations or assistance at home. Some of these extra measures include extended time (documentation required), extra breaks (for medication or restroom), screen magnification, selectable colors, oral and sign language interpreters and many more.

    New At-Home Testing Requirements

    Although the exam can now be accessed from the comfort of your home, both exams should still be taken seriously. For one, students will be asked to download the specific test browsers and security system check prior to taking the exam. On the same note, headphones of any kind are prohibited as well as taking the exam in any public setting or using notebook paper. It is highly recommended that students use white boards as potential notetaking materials. Because your home becomes a remote testing center, your computer and keyboard must be on a desk or other tabletop surface and you must be sitting in a standard chair; sitting in a bed, couch or overstuffed chair will not be acceptable. On top of this, unscheduled breaks during the at-home test are not allowed and can result in your exam being canceled. You also, sadly, cannot take the GRE exam in your pajamas. You will be expected to dress appropriately. And lastly, your computer must have a built-in camera or attachable webcam as the proctor will be asking to see your entire room and tabletop surface.

    Test Preparation Remains Consistent

    Yes, the location has changed but the test remains the same. Therefore, students can still access free GRE and GMAT test prep using self-guided test prep books from a number of publishers including The Princeton Review, Kaplan and Mometrix. You can also take online classes if you need more hands-on teaching or simply someone ready to answer your question.

    Price Reduction for GMAT

    In order to accommodate certain students, the GMAT exam is now priced at $250 instead of $275. There is also a lower cost pf $150 for undergraduate students, which encourages undergraduates to test now, apply later.

    Ability to Take the GMAT or GRE Exam at Any Time

    With these new online exams, students can take the exam at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On top of that, students can schedule their exams a mere 24 hours in advance, making it super convenient to get started.

The pandemic doesn't have to stop you from achieving your academic goals. Learn to adapt and ace those exams from the comfort and security of your own home.


What's Next?

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