When to take the GMAT Exam? : The Quandary

The GMAT Exam seems like a milestone to several candidates who are preparing for the exam. They feel as if it is the test which will determine the course of their career (and life) post the exam. While this may be true for the candidates who succeed in their attempts and get into their dream colleges, it is certainly no disaster for the candidates who are unable to get the requisite score. This artificially created importance cause the candidates to delay their decision in determining the date on when to take the GMAT Exam.

The GMAT Exam gives the candidates the flexibility to select their own testing dates. Each candidate can give the exam on the dates selected. In fact, if the candidate decides to appear for the GMAT Exam in one of the metro cities, they are likely to have the most options in terms of selecting the dates of the GMAT Exam.
While it is theoretically possible for the candidate to book a GMAT Exam slot within 24 hours, in practice the GMAT Exam Date is usually available around 2 weeks from the date of booking. This fact has to be kept in mind when the candidate decides on when they wish to select the GMAT Exam Date.

Confusion on when to take the GMAT Exam

For several of the candidates who are appearing for the GMAT Exam, it represents an opportunity to move on to bigger and better things. It may even represent an escape from a dead end job. These circumstances surrounding the GMAT Exam ensures that the candidate bears the full weight of the opportunity.

The level of importance ensures that every decision regarding the GMAT Exam is second chance and the decision on when to take the GMAT Exam is no exception. This is one of the foremost reason for the confusion regarding when to take the GMAT Exam.
Another factor is the flexibility given by GMAC about giving the GMAT Exam whenever the candidate wishes to throughout the year. This flexibility gives rise to a lot of second guessing by the candidate about their level of preparation and when would be the ideal time to take the GMAT Exam.

These are the major reasons for the confusion surrounding when to take the GMAT Exam. There is always going to debate on choosing the exam date when it is left to the candidates but to help make this decision, we are listing a number of factors that should be taken into account when making the decision.

Factors that determine when to take the GMAT Exam

There are several factors that can determine when to take the GMAT Exam. There are certainly going to be some personal factors that the candidates will take into account when they decide on when to take the GMAT Exam. Some of the more common factors will be discussed in this article so that the candidate can take a more informed decision.

  1. College Application Dates: This factor will be most important for candidates who wish to gain admission into the B-School immediately. While the GMAT Exam is held throughout the year, the colleges continue their own academic calendar. Therefore it is important for candidates to get their scorecards in time for the college applications. For candidates who do not wish to pursue their Post Graduation immediately, the college applications are not very important since the GMAT Score is deemed valid for 5 years post the GMAT Exam.

  2.  Preparation Level: The GMAT Exam is quite expensive for most people due to which the decision on when to take the GMAT Exam becomes extremely important. At this stage, it is important to gauge the level of preparation of the candidate so that they can put their best foot forward when they decide to give the GMAT Exam. The delay between the date of selecting the GMAT Exam Date and the actual GMAT Exam Date has to be kept in mind when the candidate decides on when to take the GMAT Exam.

  3. Retake Possibility: Any Entrance Exam depends not just on the knowledge of the candidate but also their state of mind at that point in time. In order to remove this factor as much as possible, GMAC allows candidates to give the GMAT Exam multiple times, specifically 8 times. When deciding on when to take the GMAT Exam, the candidate has to mindful of the fact that they may need to give the GMAT Exam again and decide on the final GMAT Exam leaving that buffer in place.

  4. Slot Timing: In any exam, it is important for the candidate to be as comfortable and alert as possible during the exam so that they can exhibit the knowledge that they have garnered during the preparation. There are generally three GMAT Exam slots per center per day. These slots are the morning slot, midday slot and the evening slot. When the candidates is deciding on when to take the GMAT Exam, it is important to find the slot that they are most comfortable so that they can give their best effort in the exam.

  5. GMAT Exam Date Availability: While the GMAT Exam can be taken throughout the year, it has seasons as well when it becomes very difficult to book a slot unless the booking is done months in advance. Therefore while deciding on when to take the GMAT Exam, it is wise to have a look at the availability of slots during those particular dates.


When to take the GMAT Exam

The question of when to take the GMAT Exam is extremely important because of the cost associated with it. We will try to answer the answer question for candidates under different circumstances:

  • Undergraduates: These are candidates who wish to keep their options open. Due to the long validity of the GMAT Scores (5 Years), it means that the candidates who are appearing for the final undergraduate exam can appear for the GMAT Exam and gain the work experience required post the GMAT Exam. It leaves the candidates a lot of flexibility since it means that even if the candidate do not score too well in the GMAT Exam, they would at least gain experience of being in the exam. On the other hand, if they do score well, they will be able to work on building their profile accordingly with the security of the good GMAT Score.
  • Working Professionals: For these candidates, the GMAT Exam has more importance, arguably, than the undergraduates. This is mainly because it is their means to giving their careers a boost or veer away from the course that it is taking. Ideally for these candidates, the GMAT Exam should be given one year prior to the actual application. This would give them enough time to prepare for the processes post the GMAT Exam (Statement of Purpose/ Essay & Interview) while continuing to work. It is optimum method of reducing the risk that the candidate faces since he/she does not need to quit their job without certainty of gaining admission in the college of their choice.

These are a few guidelines to answer the question of "When should you take the GMAT Exam?" that plagues the minds of most of the candidates. It might help you make up your mind on when to take the GMAT Exam.


It is extremely important to remember that while the GMAT Exam might appear to be a mountain standing between you and the promised land, it is truly just the first obstacle to overcome before you can enter the hallowed halls. The GMAT Exam is merely a qualifier that the colleges use to ensure that the candidate has the caliber to keep up with their coursework.

Therefore while careful thought has to be given to the decision of when to take the GMAT Exam, it should not intimidate you into inaction. Being an entrance exam with a vast syllabus, it is practically impossible for the candidate to be completely prepared for the GMAT Exam however this fact should not hold the candidate back from giving the exam itself. Based on the trends of the mock test scores, the candidate should be able to gauge how well-prepared they are. Once the candidate reaches the optimum level of preparation, they should be willing to roll the dice and try their luck in the GMAT Exam.

It is but another obstacle to conquer. So go forth with fire in your heart and calm in your mind.