A little thing here or there doesn’t usually make a lot of difference. But when you aggregate, knowing some of the little things about the GMAT can be a big help on Test Day. In this blog post, I am going to highlight some unexpected or otherwise novel little tidbits. This list is not comprehensive, of course, but I believe you'll find it contributes to your GMAT success on test day. If you have anything you’d like to add, please do so in the comments.
- Your photograph taken at the testing center on test day will be sent to schools. That’s right, folks. Just when you thought it was safe to wear your lucky shirt—you know, the one with the crass cartoon of a feral dog at a cocktail party—Big Brother steps in and spoils it for you. According to GMAC’s website, your test day photograph as well as any voluntarily reported background information (e.g., undergrad GPA, phone number, intended area of graduate study, etc.) will be sent along with your score report to any of your selected recipients if they have requested to receive such information.
- Full copies of your Analytical Writing Assessment essay will be sent to schools. Whether admissions officers actually read these essays we can never know, but we do know that those officers can read them if they want to. What does this mean for you? Eh, not much. You are going to learn how to write a top scoring essay way before you sit for the exam and the one you write on test day will be one of several well-composed writing samples you’ve completed. In fact, you’ll want people to read it because it will be that good!
- The unique pattern of the veins in your palms will be used to identify you. Who doesn’t love a good biometric identification device? Come on, we don’t live in the future just to offer up a driver’s license or a finger print. We want computers to scan our veins! In addition to having both palms scanned, you will also have to bring valid photo identification, allow your picture to be taken at the test center, and sign a digital signature pad. Oh, and you’ll have to scan your palms every time you re-enter the testing room—for example, after using the rest room during one of the two 8-minute breaks.
- You receive your GMAT score instantly. You will have to wait to receive your AWA and IR scores as well as a breakdown of your total score, but as soon as you choose to accept your scores… TA-DA!!! Your 200-800 point GMAT score will appear on the screen in front of you instantaneously. When I took the GMAT, this took me completely off guard, actually. I knew I’d get my score on the same day, but the speed with which it flashed on the screen startled me. I think I actually jumped and gasped in the same way I would at the unanticipated sight of a latex zombie in a haunted house at the state fair. However, unlike the zombie, my score looked beautiful.
- You can only take the GMAT once every 31 days and only up to 5 times within a 12 month period. The good news is that since you did such a wonderful job preparing for the exam the first time, this information won’t apply to you. However, I do recommend a thorough understanding of what taking the GMAT twice really means and what it doesn’t. This knowledge about the frequency at which you can sit for the exam may be of some help when planning your b-school application timeline.
- Preparing for the GMAT takes longer than you think. I wrote about this in a previous blog article that I suggest you read right now. This may well be the most vicious of the unexpected and is arguably a bit out of place on a list of “little things.” However, since we’re talking about aspects of the GMAT that may surprise you, a long prep runway is something you can and should plan to lay out for yourself. Respect the test.
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