This is an excerpt from our exclusive conversation with Gaurav Srivastava, Regional Director at Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and Anant Rastogi, Director Marketing – South Asia, GMAT and NMAT by GMAC with Allwin Agnel, the Founder, and CEO of PaGaLGuY.
GMAC is the proprietor and administrator of the GMAT standardized test specifically designed for
management programs & graduate business. The GMAT score is accepted at 7,000+ programs around the world and administered at 600+ test centers in 114 countries.
It is the most extensively used evaluation for graduate management admissions and the most authentic predictor of academic success in graduate business studies.
This is an exclusive report by PaGaLGuY Team.
GMAC had recently announced the implementation of an interim online version of the GMAT that was expected to be available in mid-April. This was in response to the pandemic situation and in-person testing of the exam “has been suspended in many locations worldwide” to protect the health and safety of staff and candidates. Could you share more details and future plans about how you are
looking to adapt to the COVID situation?
In response to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 situation, GMAC had to push up the timeline on launching an online solution. GMAC was able to come up with a convenient online solution for students and schools. The biggest challenge of the current situation is the uncertainty amongst students, schools and in general with how the world is going to move.
GMAC has been having long and detailed conversations with both the B-schools as well as the students addressing their contemplation around the changes in exam style and the challenges faced by them.
The aspirants perspective:
The right thing to mention will be to let the aspirants continue to pursue their plan for this cycle as this is the best time to pursue their dream course. Many aspirants might drop their plans owing to the uncertainty, but these aspirants would definitely apply the subsequent cycle or season to pursue their dream courses.
If the majority of the candidates from the current cycle plan to push their plan for the next cycle and just like every year there will be an organic demand for candidates planning to pursue their course every year.
The competition will be at an all-time high. Some of the aspirants this year have not changed their minds and are willing to explore and evaluate their options for specialized plans. They feel this is the best time to look for dream programs.
The B-school perspective:
For the top-ranked colleges and the ones offering specialized courses, this is the best time for them to have candidates pursuing their dream programs. Indian Schools admissions are cyclical, so there isn’t much of a change in the candidate behavior pattern seen at the beginning phase. Traditionally, the aspirants tend to take their tests close to the deadlines of their aspiring colleges.
For International Schools admissions the actual struggle may begin from July if the situation continues to worsen as the aspirants might look for a September intake. Europe and USA colleges have already announced the dates to be pushed. The major challenge this year will be for Indian and Chinese candidates for an International college intake.
To manage and maintain integrity during the Online Tests, what appropriate measures and modifications have been taken for online proctoring?
Since online exams enable you to take your test at your ease, convenience, and comfort, the initial reviews have been positive. There is a lot of excitement and appreciation in terms of feedback from
Before the commencement of the tests, the proctors ensure that there are no smartphones in the vicinity of the candidates. This is again enabled by allowing the candidates to show their 360 views of the place where they are attending their tests. The live chat feature has been enabled for any doubt throughout the examination.
Breaks have also been assigned during the exams. There will be an optional break between the IR section and the verbal section, whereas there will be no breaks between the verbal and quant sections.
Using online whiteboard extensively has been allowed to enable the user for their rough work and calculation. There are also enough practice tools available online for using online whiteboard effectively.
The schools are extremely happy with the quick turnaround solution GMAC provided by enabling the online examination.
Due to the requirement of social distancing, are you going to see a drop in your utilization capacity in your testing centers?
Capacity is never a concern at our testing centers. We have enough seating arrangements made
standard across the globe. Individual cubicles are allotted to all the exam takers, so social distancing norms are and will be followed by default. These tests are available 365 days around the year, for offline exam takers and 24*7 available now for online exam takers.
GMAC follows global standards for conducting tests across the globe. As a part of the contingency plan, a safe environment will be ensured. The use of disposable masks, markers, pens, and sanitizers will be available at all centers.
If required, we might build more centers. Our top priority is the safety our test takers, test center staff, and our community. All GMAT™ testing centers will require the use of face masks. You will also be allowed to wear disposable gloves.
Please ensure you bring your own personal protective equipment (PPE) with you to your testing appointment. Equipment will not be provided at the testing center. For more information, candidates may visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cloth face covering guidance .
To comply with social distancing requirements within waiting areas and the test center, daily appointment volumes have been appropriately reduced. A minimum six-foot distance will be required when in the testing center or waiting areas. Our testing centers have implemented enhanced health and safety measures.
This includes providing hand sanitizer and tissues within the test center and in waiting areas. Check-in equipment and testing stations, including the keyboard, mouse, chair and computer terminal, are sanitized after every use and waiting areas are sanitized throughout the day. For more information candidates can visit our testing partner Pearson VUE.
What will be the impact on GMAT and NMAT exam takers this year? Do you see any upward trend or you see any challenges?
For GMAT Exam as we are in the last week of May 2020, it seems pretty early to observe a trend as most of the aspirants traditionally tend to take up their tests close to the deadlines of their aspiring colleges for a September intake. We are expecting some changes in the pattern after mid-June 2020.
NMAT, it is very early to comment as the registration starts only towards the month of July every cycle. Even if there is a change, we are ready for both the mode of tests – online as well as offline. if required at that point of time GMAC might consider an online version in case test centers are not available.
What are your suggestions/recommendations for people planning to study abroad this year or the coming cycle?
This is the best time for every aspirant to tap the opportunity of pursuing their dream course from the premium institutes of their choice.
Since most of them will be completing their assessments online this year, any useful tips for our GMAT and NMAT aspirants?
We would like to help candidates make the best career choices and we are here to help. To help ease
the candidates we are taking active steps to help them get acclimated to the test environment and also providing them with more practice tests so that they can be better prepared before the real deal
Some of our suggestions are as below:
- Take multiple Free Online Assessments to get well-versed with the online setup.
- GMAC has added additional free tests that the candidate can take online to practice before they go live.
- Look for a decent and stable internet connection to avoid any disconnection during the exam.
- Choose a closed and soundproof room.
- Choose a time when you can give your best, and have less disturbing forces around you.
- Get well versed in how to use the online whiteboard effectively.
- Get acquainted with the website features and other required help which you can avail before,
during, and after the assessments.
The Indian GDP is headed for negative growth, during these times do you expect to reduce pricing for exams and products?
We would like to fully support the students in their endeavours. During these tough times we are
working actively to ensure that the student receives more value for their money.
Keeping the current situation and factors in mind, GMAC has revised their GMAT fees from USD 250 to USD 200 for the online test. I would also like to highlight that the GMAT is an AICTE ratified test and the scores are valid for 5 years in India as well as abroad. In India, close to 120+ colleges offering PGDM accept GMAT scores
We are not charging for any online rescheduling of tests and have also removed our charges for sending scores to multiple colleges. These are all very student friendly moves that we have undertaken.
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