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GMAT Test Dates | 2018, 2019, 2020 and Beyond!

GMAT test dates - magoosh

If you are planning to apply to full-time MBA programs next year to start classes in the next 12-18 months, this is the perfect time to start preparing for your GMAT test date. Even if you aren’t planning to apply for another few years, it’s not too early to look into GMAT exam dates! GMAT scores are valid for five years so the sooner you can get your GMAT date of the way, the more time you will have to focus on other aspects of your application, and the less stressed out you will be when deadlines start rolling around.

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These timelines will help guide you as you start planning your preparation calendar and considering GMAT exam dates for the next year. These timelines are based on the most common deadlines for rounds of applications at top MBA programs. Most top schools set MBA application deadlines three times a year, in three rounds. Check with specific schools for exact deadlines for Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3. And check out this article for help figuring out which round you should apply in. As you can imagine dates for MBA application rounds have a lot of implications for GMAT dates.

MBA Applications Round 1

Dec. - Feb.MarchApril - MayJuneJuly - AugustSept. - Oct.
StudyTake GMATStudyRetake GMATEssays, etc...Round 1 due

MBA Applications Round 2

March - MayJuneJuly - AugustSept.Oct.-Nov.Dec. - Jan.
StudyTake GMATStudyRetake GMATEssays, etc...Round 2 due

MBA Applications Round 3

June - AugustSept.Oct. - Nov.Dec.Jan. - Feb.March - April
StudyTake GMATStudyRetake GMATEssays, etc...Round 3 due

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The 3 Steps to Scheduling Your GMAT Test Date

There are three basic steps test-takers need need to complete in order to select and set GMAT dates. I’ll outline each step below in brief.

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Step 1: Register for the GMAT

Before you consider GMAT test dates, the very first thing you should do is register for the GMAT. This will get you into the system so that you have the ability to look at your choices for gmat test centers and GMAT exam dates.

To register for the GMAT, you’ll need to create an account with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the company that makes the GMAT exam. You can go to GMAC’s “Create Your Account” page to get started. Once that’s done, you’ll have the ability to browse and pick a location for your GMAT and see your options for GMAT dates.

Step 2: Find a test center with available GMAT dates

Once you’ve registered with GMAC and have the ability to look at GMAT exam dates, the next step is to find a test center. To locate a test center near you, use the GMAT’s official test center search page.

And remember, the farther in advance you book your GMAT, the more options you’ll have for both GMAT locations and GMAT dates

Step 3: Schedule your Exam

Once you are registered to take the GMAT and know where you can take your test, you’re ready to actually select your GMAT test date. Log in to your GMAT account and follow the on screen instructions.

Of course, there’s a lot more to registering for the GMAT and choosing your test date then just accessing and navigating the official GMAT website. Timing is a crucial consideration too. Below, we’ll look at when to register, and how to select the GMAT test date that’s right for you.

When do I need to register for the GMAT?

You can register for the test anywhere between six months to 24 hours in advance of your GMAT test date (or GMAT test dates if you are retaking the test; remember you need to allow for a 16-day window between test days!). Unlike the SAT, the GMAT is offered on an ongoing basis, but if you wait too late to register, spots may fill up and you may not get the dates/times you prefer. For complete, in-depth details about how to register, check out our comprehensive guide on all things related to the GMAT examination.

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When should I plan on taking the GMAT?

If you’re like most typical GMAT preppers, you should start prepping 7-8 months before your application deadline, and take your test 4-5 months before you apply.

By giving you this advice, I am assuming the following:

  • You will take 3 months to study before the exam.
  • You will spend 15-20 hours a week studying,
  • You will retake the test if you are not happy with your score, and allow yourself a month or two for possible retake studies.
  • You will use 2 months to prepare other aspects of your application (writing essays, working with recommenders, doing research and visiting schools, soul-searching, etc).
  • You will prepare for those other non-GMAT aspects on the “home stretch” of your B-school admissions journey, in the last several weeks before your final application deadline.

So that’s 3 months of initial GMAT study, 1-2 months that are kept free in case you need a retake, followed by 2 months of other application activities. That should be 6-7 month GMAT/application process timeline, right? So where did I get the 7-8 month estimate? By factoring in the amount of time it may take for your GMAT scores to arrive at the schools you’ve applied to.

Keep in mind that the GMAC says it can take up to 20 days for your test to be reported to schools. That could actually mean 21 days, depending on whether your test day scores get transmitted from the test center to GMAT central the same day you take the test, or the next day. There’s also a small chance that for some reason there could be unexpected delays in the GMAC sending our scores. So beyond GMAT exam dates, you should consider the dates of arrival for your GMAT exam report.

To be safe, you’ll want to book your GMAT date at least 21 days prior to your application deadline, so that there is ample time for your scores to be processed and sent to your school. Giving yourself a few extra days beyond the 21 can’t hurt either. So really, there’s an extra month in there. That’s why I recommend taking your GMAT 7-8 months before your deadline instead of just 6-7.

Of course, your mileage may vary, in terms of how much time you really need for the GMAT and when you should register. If you have more than 20 hours a week to study or have higher-than-average GMAT skills, you may need less time to prepare for your exam or a possible retake. Conversely, if you have fewer hours of spare time per week or lower baseline skills for the exam, you may need to reserve more prep time before you actually take the test.

Also, while it isn’t as common, some students get all of the soul searching, university visits, reference letter gathering and so on out of the way before they tackle the GMAT. If this sounds like you, then your GMAT prep time and GMAT exam date will take a different position in your overall timetable for admissions.

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How long do I need to study for the GMAT?

Now there’s a big question when it comes to setting your GMAT exam date! As I touched on above, the amount of time you’ll need to study will depend on your strengths and weaknesses, but according to a GMAC survey in 2017, students who scored 700+ prepared for an average of 90 hours.

While that’s a good baseline, it’s not uncommon to find you need more than that average 90 hours. This is especially true if you hit an unexpected snag. Many students find that some aspect of the exam is going to take more study than they thought. It’s also common to temporarily get “stuck,” temporarily unable to find a way to improve your practice scores until you figure out some new approaches. You’ll want to factor in some extra time for these sorts of common challenges.

So for a 700+ score, I recommend adding 20-30 hours to that 90-hour average, just in case. Factoring in your work or studies, and other “real life” responsibilities, this likely means about 3 months of study time. We have super-detailed study schedules that I would highly recommend you take a look at to help you plan for your GMAT date. And of course, always keep your eyes on the prize, knowing what section scores you need for that top GMAT score. For an idea of what 700+ on the GMAT looks like, it may be helpful to check out our GMAT Score Calculator.

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