After teaching the GMAT in New York for 3 years, I transferred to Kaplan’s London Center. While working out of the London Center, I have taught classes in Ireland, Germany and Italy, in addition to the United Kingdom, and have discovered a few major differences between taking the GMAT in the United States and in Europe. These differences can be broken down into two categories: GMAT content and test administration.
While GMAT content is the same no matter where one takes the exam, students who hail from outside the States often have very different concerns than American test takers, especially in the verbal section. Students whose native language is one other than English often worry about the sentence correction portion of the test. However, though most would expect a native speaker to have the advantage on a test of grammar, one must remember that native speakers, for the most part, did not actually learn much grammar formally when they learned the language. Non-native speakers, who have been taught grammar rules from the outset of learning the language, can actually have an easier time approaching sentence correction problems in a systematic manner – a manner far more effective at leading to the correct answer than simply finding the choice that “sounds” right.
Similar concerns often arise for British students when learning that idioms are tested on the GMAT. An idiom is a commonly accepted combination of words that has no specific grammatical underpinning. Basically, it is right because the GMAT says it is right. However, in Britain the commonly accepted phrase is often different from the one accepted in the States. For example, most American students would say they are enrolled in a Kaplan course, while most British students would say they are enrolled on a Kaplan course. Again, no need to worry, as Kaplan includes a list of the most commonly tested idioms and students can simply memorize those with which they are not familiar.
The second big difference is in test administration. Just as is the case in the United States, Pearson Vue administers the GMAT in Europe. However, students in Europe are much more limited in the number of test location/time/date options. For this reason, it is even more important for student outside the United States to make sure they sign up for a test date as soon as they know when and where they would like to take their exam. Remember that, just as in the United States, you can change your test date after signing up, as long as you do so more than five business days before your exam; also, keep in mind that the GMAC will charge you US$50 for this service.