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07 May

“How Much Does the GMAT Cost?” and Other GMAT Preparation Tips

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, has long been a rite of passage for applicants to MBA programs and to other business-focused master’s degree programs. Even though many business schools accept GRE scores in lieu of the GMAT or even offer a waiver process to exempt you from taking the exam, learning how to prepare for the GMAT is still an extremely common experience for many professionals.

If you are currently engaged in the GMAT preparation process and searching for answers to questions like “How much does the GMAT cost?”, read on to learn everything you need to know to position yourself for success on the exam.

Basics of the GMAT: Cost, Structure, and Experience

As of 2019, the registration fee for the GMAT exam is $250.1 It is, however, possible to incur additional GMAT costs if you need to reschedule or cancel your exam, or if you decide it is in your best interest to cancel your score after you take the exam. Many potential business school students also invest in preparatory materials for the exam. The Graduate Management Admission Council offers a free downloadable handbook for the exam, but study guides, software, and practice tests are also available for a cost from third-party providers.2

GMAT101

As you begin your GMAT preparation, you’ll quickly discover that the exam is divided into four sections, each of which emphasizes a specific skill required to thrive in contemporary business settings:3

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, which tests your critical thinking skills and asks you to compose and communicate an argument
  • Integrated Reasoning, which assesses your ability to integrate data in the form of graphs, spreadsheets, and text into your decision-making
  • Quantitative, which addresses your mathematical skills and your capacity to discern data sufficiency
  • Verbal, which focuses on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and written language proficiency

While your GMAT exam may be administered at any one of hundreds of GMAT testing centers located across the globe, your experience on your test day will follow a similar pattern. You will be asked to check in by presenting identification, digitally sign a statement agreeing to the rules and policies for the exam, and sit for a digital photograph. Your GMAT will be administered by computer and takes up to three-and-a-half hours, after which you will immediately receive your unofficial scores.4

The Graduate Management Admission Council provides an online tool to help you find the closest GMAT testing center to your location, including on military bases around the world. Find your testing site well ahead of your desired exam date and leave yourself plenty of time for GMAT preparation.

SeattleU Prep

How to Prepare for the GMAT

In addition to the wealth of digital materials GMAC provides to prospective test-takers, the council also outlines some best practices for GMAT preparation to help you perform at your best on the exam. These tips include:5

Review for one section at a time. It’s easy to get carried away by the diversity of information and skills you will need to have at hand to succeed on the GMAT, so concentrate your energy on a specific subject area until you feel comfortable with it, and then move on to the next.

Practice pacing yourself. Because of the timed nature of the exam, one of the most important skills you can bring to the testing center is a keen sense of timing. Complete practice exams with a timer running so you become comfortable with how quickly you’ll need to work to complete all of the questions in the allotted time.

Review math basics. If you’ve been out of school for some time, it’s likely you haven’t needed to use basic mathematics skills in a while. Brush up on your basic arithmetic and on key statistical and logical concepts that might come up on the exam to avoid being surprised by anything you encounter.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the location of your testing center and the best route to reach it on test day. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled exam to account for any unforeseen traffic or check-in issues. Review GMAC’s list of permissible and impermissible items to ensure you’re not caught off-guard when you arrive at your testing center, and be sure to have your official photo ID on hand.6 Finally, think ahead about the order in which you’d like to take the sections of the exam so that you are ready to hit the ground running as soon as your GMAT begins.7

Are You Eligible for a GMAT Waiver?

Business schools who are in touch with the busy lives and demands of contemporary working professionals often offer waivers for the GMAT to allow you to avoid the entire potentially stressful exam process. These waivers typically are granted on the basis of a history of professional and/or academic accomplishment that a school’s admissions committee deems sufficient to demonstrate a level of aptitude that signals your likely success in a graduate business program.

If you are applying to a graduate business school that offers multiple degree programs, the criteria by which you are evaluated for a potential GMAT waiver may differ between programs. Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, for instance, offers a different set of potential paths to a GMAT waiver for its Online MBA program than it does for its Online Master of Science in Business Analytics. If you are interested in petitioning for a GMAT waiver, be sure to do so well ahead of the application deadline for your desired start date to leave yourself enough time to take the exam if you are required to do so.


Make the Most of Your GMAT

A final piece of GMAT preparation advice is to select which school or schools you would like your scores to be delivered to ahead of your testing date. You may select up to five schools to receive an official score report for free, and add additional schools for a fee after you take the exam and receive your own score report.7

Once you have successfully taken and completed the GMAT exam, consider utilizing your sure-to-be-stellar score to apply for the Online MBA or Online MSBA from Seattle University. For more graduate business school application advice, check out our blog posts on polishing your resume and asking your employer for financial aid.


1. Retrieved on April 17, 2019, from mba.com/exams/gmat/about-the-gmat-exam/gmat-exam-fees-payment-information
2. Retrieved on April 17, 2019, from chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-education-three-best-gmat-prep-books-bestreviews-20180924-story.html
3. Retrieved on April 17, 2019, from mba.com/exams/gmat/about-the-gmat-exam/gmat-exam-structure
4. Retrieved on April 17, 2019, from mba.com/exams/gmat/plan-for-exam-day/gmat-test-center
5. Retrieved on April 17, 2019, from mba.com/exams/gmat/before-the-exam/perform-your-best-on-test-day/gmat-preparation-best-practices