Use of Scratch Paper in GMAT exam

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    Preparing for GMAT requires the candidate to work on all the parts of it, one is setting up the Scratch Paper while taking the exam. The GMAT test takers are given a notepad and marker to take notes on during the GMAT. The GMAT scratch paper is five yellow grid double-sided pages that are laminated from both ends. The pages on the GMAT Scratch paper are about the size of those on a legal pad, however, significantly bigger than a typical sheet of paper. It looks like a cross between a dry erase board and a flip pad or sketchbook.

    The candidate will get the GMAT scratch paper accompanied with a non-permanent wet-erase marker. The candidate cannot erase anything on the GMAT Scratch Paper, thus it is important to ensure that space is used wisely. However, if the candidate starts running out of the space to write then an additional scratch paper is provided as a replacement and there is no limitation set to this. However, it is highly recommended to write only what is directly useful since taking up notes will consume precious time during the GMAT examination.

    The candidate should try to plan ahead so in case there is a little room on the scratchpad before a section of the GMAT ends, a replacement can be voiced. The best time to ask the proctor for a new scratchpad is between sections so that the candidate does not have to interrupt their thought process or waste time in between while attempting a section. While the booklet technically has 10 faces (front and back of 5 pages), the first page has a bunch of writing and instructions on it, so in practice, the candidate will have only 9 faces to write.

    Section-wise Utilization of the GMAT Scratch Paper

    GMAT Analytical Writing Ability (Essay) - During the GMAT AWA section, the candidate would not need much of the scratch paper, as it is recommended to type the notes right onto the screen as the candidate reads the essay prompt. Thus, every time the candidate finds a flaw in the argument, it is better to type a note and when the candidate is done with the essay, there is a list of flaws from which the candidate can decide to keep and then further reorder them.

    GMAT Integrated Reasoning (IR) – While attempting the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section, the candidate will use a lot of space on the GMAT Scratch Paper, but since there are just 12 question prompts, 9 sheets on a single GMAT Scratch Paper would suffice. However, organizing the paper would be the key, since most of the GMAT IR question types have two or three parts, and thus, spending about half a page per problem would keep the work discrete. Candidates can also draw a horizontal line halfway down the page to work in discrete space and keep the steps organized as well.

    GMAT Quantitative Aptitude – Once the 8-minute break starts before the initiation of the GMAT Quantitative Aptitude section, the candidate can get a fresh booklet by turning in the old scratch paper. While there are occasional reports from various test takers that the test center proctors sometimes don’t want to give a fresh pad if the candidate has not used up the existing pad. However, as per the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the candidate is allowed to ask for a fresh pad even if the existing pad is not completely used up.

    An expert has even suggested that the GMAT scratch paper organization method can help the candidate in keeping track of remaining questions, specifically for the GMAT Quantitative Aptitude section. The candidate can follow the below-mentioned guidelines for dividing the scratch paper into different parts:

    • The Scratch paper has 9 sheets of scrap paper. Now in order to divide the scratch paper to flip to the last page and draw a cross on the page, divide it into 4 quadrants and write “Done!” in the lower-right corner.
    • Now, the candidate should flip to the second last page and similarly divide that one into quarters. However, this time write “8” in the lower-right corner and follow the same step-up till the first page. The numbers would be in the multiples of 8.
    • The trick is to add space for the remaining one question. On the first page, divide the page into 5 sections, not 4.
    • Thus, now there are 37 discrete spaces to complete the 37 problems of GMAT Quantitative Aptitude section and as mentioned earlier, what’s more to this is that as each and every page is finished, the candidate will know exactly how much time should be left on the clock. So, in case the candidate is more than about 2 minutes off in either direction, increasing the speed will be necessary.
    • For the candidates who are going too fast, it is better to slow down and start writing out all of the work and do some sanity checks like whether the candidate is answering the right question.
    • In case the candidate is going too slowly, doing two things is important, guess immediately on the next hard question that pops up, and start being more careful about spending extra time on problems.

    Again, in the case of proctor not giving a separate Scratch paper, the candidate has every right to tell proctor that the GMAC has confirmed that the candidates are allowed to get a new scratch booklet even if it is not yet full.

    GMAT Verbal Ability – For GMAT Verbal section, the candidate will require a new scratch paper as the GMAT Quantitative Aptitude will use up most if not all of the workable space and this could be done in the break time between the Quant and Verbal sections.

    The GMAT aspirants who have been following the exam pattern seriously, would have an idea that the GMAT Verbal Ability section is the most annoying section of the four, since the average question time is different for each question type and the amount of what needed to write also varies by question type as the order in which questions will appear is not shared. Thus, there is no easy set up that is like that of the GMAT Quantitative Aptitude.

    • Once the instructions start to appear on the candidates system, that time can be used to write ABCDE with some space in between each letter and The GMAT scratch paper is graph paper, so gridlines are already set up making the process all together easier. This will help the candidate to keep score of the right answer choice for that question.
    • Then, once each of the problems is assessed based on the answer choices underneath, it can be marked and the candidate can move to a new line for each new problem. Even numbering the problems in these types of questions is unnecessary as the only thing that matters is the problem up on the screen.
    • Then to the right of the answer grid, the candidate can start taking notes whenever there is a need for them. Further, when the problem is solved, the notes can be boxed off so that the candidate is aware that the notes for that question are completed.
    • Once the candidate moves to the right side, the ABCDE thing can be redrawn as it can be annoying to go all the way back to the left-hand side in order to use the answer grid previously defined.
    • Now, for the timing, the candidate can split the Verbal test into four different quarters where the candidate should ideally spend approximately 19 minutes. This is for each of the quadrants, so that the candidate can verify the time remaining and the questions number proportional to that to keep in check. The division is as follows:
      • When the candidate is attempting the question number 10, then the remaining time should look somewhere around 56 minutes.
      • Similarly, when the candidate is attempting the question number 20, then the remaining time should look somewhere around 37 minutes.
      • Finally, when the candidate is attempting the question number 30, then the remaining time should look somewhere around 18 minutes.
    • The numbers defined above, assume that the candidate starts exactly one new Reading Comprehension passage in each new quarter, so the candidate is going to keep track of the Reading Comprehension passages by drawing a little dot or line on the top of the page each time a new passage is started.
    • Now, when the candidate glances at the clock for the first check, there should be one dot on the top of the page and at the second mark, there should be two dots, and finally, at the third mark there should be three dots.
    • Thus, in case the candidate has fewer dots than expected, then the need is to have more time left on the clock than the standard benchmark time i.e. a few minutes more and in case the candidate has more dots than expected, then the remaining time should be a few minutes lower than expected by the standard benchmark because the candidate has started more Reading Comprehension passages than expected at this point in the test.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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