GMAT scratch paper usageYou might have heard that all the golden rules come in threes. This, surprisingly, is also applicable to test takers on the day of the test. The rule of three or power of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. This is especially true when practicing for or attempting the actual GMAT. In this post, we will look at three golden rules that concern using the scratch paper or notepad effectively on the day of the test. These rules will help you overcome fatigue during test day as well as give you an organized method to approach each question, ensuring higher accuracy and speed.

Let’s see how to do this:

Rule 1 – Make its use second nature

We have been listening to our teachers for quite a long time that practise makes you perfect. Is it really going to work? Yes, of course. Let’s be very practical here, you should know that a pencil and a scratch paper (or a felt pen and the noteboard for GMAT) are the only two things to which you have access to write on during the actual test. We can’t master the usage just on the test day. Instead start using scratch paper from the day you start preparing for the actual test. The idea is to not look at It as a scratch paper, but rather consider this a  work paper.

Initially, before you start your test, you will be given several blank sheets of paper. Each sheet will have two blank, usable sides.

  • The number of sheets you’ll receive depends on the individual test centre. We’ve heard reports of three, four, five or six sheets of paper, sometimes in booklet form, sometimes single sheets.
  • If you use all of it, you can ask the proctor for another set, but you will have to exchange your finished sheets for the fresh ones.
  • This means you can have as much paper as you want, but no more than a limited number of sheets at a time.

Once you are permitted to write down you can pen down all your math formulae or your Pacing Chart for reference during the test. This stands out as an important rule as it is very essential to master the usage on test day. If you don’t practice this it surely would mess up the rough work.

Rule 2 – Organize the scratch / work paper

We have a tendency to scribble over the edges and by the time we solved the question it looks clumsy and we don’t know where to start the next question. No need to economize but start organizing the paperwork from the day you started test preparation.This practice makes your work very organised in terms of solving the questions on the test day. We would certainly like to check our steps after we solved the in order to keep the track of steps we have to organise the scratch paper.

Rule 3 – Keep it tidy

2017-01-09-PHOTO-00000166I know for the first time test taker it is really tough to sit for almost 4 hours and to work on the test. It’s a daunting task altogether and we tend to ignore to keep our scratch work tidy. This can be overcome if you mimic the test day experience right from the first day of your classroom or self preparation. Writing what you actually require rather than writing too many details would make your work tidy on the paper. Use your own abbreviations to be precise while solving questions. If you write too much on one paper , you are likely to start mixing up information in questions.


For instance if you are working on the critical reasoning question it is important to write Evidence, Assumption and Conclusion before solving. Let’s assume that we have not marked evidence and while solving if we mistook evidence for assumption and vice versa then it would cost you credits which would impact your score.As there is a famous quote “Small things make big difference” so do follow these small things to fetch a dream score.

Put these organization strategies to use and you will definitely see your GMAT scores improve! For more article like these and other strategic tips – Like our facebook page.

Suresh Daniel has been teaching English for about 15 years now. He is an avid reader and loves to indulge in passionate discussions about philosophy and other abstract subjects. He is extremely fun loving and you can find him having the most fun when he is teaching!