GMAT’s New Enhanced Score Report

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New tool to help GMAT-takers plan for a retest.

Starting in February 2015, GMAC will be launching its new Enhanced Score Report as a way of helping test takers better understand their GMAT performance and potentially strategize and plan for a retest.  With this new tool, test takers will be able to see how much time they spent on each question, identify their skill strengths and weaknesses, and benchmark their performance against test takers from the last three years. The customized summary report will help test takers prepare for future study and test taking.

The AWA score is not included in the ESR since the report only uses data generated from unofficial scores (and this does not include the AWA). There is also no sub-section feedback given on the IR section since that section is too small to provide an adequate sample.

Test takers may purchase their GMAT Enhanced Score Report here for $24.95 and then have access to their report for five years. You can purchase your ESR for GMAT exams taken as far back as October 2013. ESRs become available up to 48 hours after you’ve completed your GMAT exam. Applicants who purchase the ESR also receive two additional practice exams and nearly 100 additional practice questions.

Starting last year in June 2014, GMAC gave test takers the option of cancelling their scores within a few minutes of completing the exam. The ESR authentication code can be applied to those cancelled exams, but not towards a GMAT exam for which a score was revoked due to a policy violation.

My thoughts:

This information should be valuable to those who aren’t satisfied with their GMAT score and want to know where to focus their studies. For those people the data is worth the fee. And in the context of the cost of the MBA, it is pocket change.

At the same time, this new revenue source for GMAC represents another competitive advantage for the GRE, which is less expensive than the GMAT to begin with.

Furthermore ETS, the entity behind the GRE, already provides the GRE Diagnostic Service at no additional cost to its test takers, and that service is similar to GMAT’s Enhanced Score Report. According to the ETS website:

“The GRE® Diagnostic Service provides insight into your performance on the test questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE® revised General Test. This FREE service includes a description of the types of questions you answered right and wrong as well as the difficulty level and time spent on each question.”

Unlike the GMAC’s ESR, the Diagnostic Service does not provide practice exams or questions.

My sense is that the $25 fee will be resented by affluent test takers, but if they need the information they will (and should) pay for it. It will be yet one more hurdle for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. And for those unsure of which of the two tests to take, the price of the ESR just adds a little weight to the side of the scale that says “GRE.”

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Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

• That GMAT Score: Implications for Your MBA Application
• Should You Retake the GMAT Exam?
• GRE vs. GMAT: Trends

When is the Best Time to Take the GMAT?

Click here to download your free guide: MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 moths Before You Apply

I remember when I was young and would ask my dad a question, more often than not he would respond, “Would you like the short answer or the long answer?” It didn’t matter which option I chose, because at some point he would inevitably launch into the long answer. And while I hated it at the time, looking back, there were always some great nuggets of wisdom in the nuances of his long answer.

So in the spirit of my dad’s sage example, I present to you the short answer — and the long answer! — to the question, “When should I take the GMAT?”

The Short Answer

You should take the GMAT any time that you have 2-3 months, or approximately 80-100 hours, to adequately prepare for it.

Remember that your GMAT score is good for five (5) years, so you can take the GMAT whenever you’re ready — even if you don’t plan on applying to business school for another year or two. Why not get it out of the way early?

Now, why do I say that you’ll want to devote 80-100 hours studying for the GMAT? Because statistically, that’s how many hours students study to score above average on the GMAT. You can read my full article about how long you should expect to study for the GMAT by clicking here.

The Long Answer

Telling you to take the GMAT whenever you want, which is essentially what I’ve done in my short answer, may seem like a bit of a cop-out to you. At the very least, it’s still pretty vague. So let me dive deeper and give you three additional guiding principles for when you should consider taking the GMAT.

• In what application round are you applying?

 It’s a good idea to have a sense of when you’ll be applying to business school. Pretty basic, right? Once you know when the application deadline is for the round you’ll be applying in, you can work backwards from there.

For example, Round 1 deadlines for many MBA programs are at the end of September for matriculation the following Fall. If you’ll be applying Round 1, then, you should start studying for the GMAT in May or June and plan to take it toward the end of August. For Round 2 deadlines, you’ll usually want to take the GMAT in late November or early December, and for Round 3 deadlines, mid- to late- February is a good time to take the GMAT for most schools.

Note: If you’re currently studying for the GMAT with an eye toward Round 3 applications (or even if you’re not planning on applying until next year and haven’t started studying for the GMAT yet), join us on Wednesday, February 11th for a free webinar providing a 3-part game plan for dominating the GMAT. Click here to learn more and register.

• Leave time to retake the GMAT if necessary

 As confident as I am that you’ll get the GMAT score you’re looking for on the very first try (especially if you’ve taken one of our GMAT prep courses!), the reality is that many students end up needing to take the GMAT a second (ore even third) time. The GMAC makes you wait a minimum of 31 days before retaking the GMAT, so take that into consideration and plan accordingly. For example, if the Round 3 application deadline for your target school is April 1st, then plan to take the GMAT before March 1st to give yourself that 31-day buffer.

While technically a school will need your official GMAT results before granting you admission (official scores can take up to 20 days to arrive), often admissions offices will work with you and grant you provisional acceptance based on the unofficial score you receive immediately after finishing the GMAT, pending that final score report. When in doubt, call the admissions offices of your target schools and ask them what the absolute latest is that they’ll accept a GMAT score from you. They want to work with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

• Don’t drag it out

 One of my favorite teaching points when I’m training my team on the importance of taking action goes as follows: Five birds are sitting on a wire. Three decide to fly off. How many are left?”

Answer: All five.

Why? Because deciding to do something isn’t the same as actually doing it! The same goes for the GMAT.

I can’t tell you how many times I have students sign up for one of my courses and despite having completed all of the course material and taken all of the practice tests, they drag out the process of actually signing up for the real thing. The truth is, you’ll probably never feel 100% ready for the GMAT. You’ll always feel like there’s one more thing to learn or one more practice problem to solve. But really, it’s fear that’s holding you back. And the best antidote to fear is action. So my advice is to pick a date based on the guidelines I described above and lock it in stone by actually submitting your registration. That way you’ll have a fixed target on your calendar that you can start working toward!

Watch the webinar: 3 Part plan to dominate the GMAT

Brett Ethridge is the founder of Dominate the GMAT, a leading provider of GMAT courses online and topic-specific GMAT video lessons. He has taught the GMAT for 10 years and loves working with students to help them achieve their highest potential. Brett is an entrepreneur, a triathlete, and an avid Duke basketball fan.

Related Resources:

GMAT Admissions 101
Should You Take the GMAT or the GRE?
• GMAT Facts: True or False

Preparing for the GMAT: Video Tips to Live By

Expert tip: Practice for the GMAT in as close to real testing conditions as possible. This will help you quickly adapt to the testing environment on the actual test day, and will help you develop the mental stamina you need to ace the exam. If you practice for 20 minutes at a time, then when it comes to actually taking the test, there’s no way you’ll be able to sit through the entire exam.

See the following video for the full tip:

For more in-depth GMAT prep strategies and advice, attend our upcoming webinar, Your 3-Part Game Plan to Dominate the GMAT. Brett Ethridge, founder of Dominate the GMAT (and the guy from the video above) will be presenting the webinar, offering actionable tips on how to best prep for the GMAT. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET. Reserve your spot by registering for Your 3-Part Game Plan to Dominate the GMAT now!

Click here to reserve a spot at the Dominate the GMAT webinar!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Should You Retake the GMAT Exam?

You can train in order to achieve a higher GMAT score

You have the time to prepare & study to achieve a higher GMAT score

There’s no yes or no answer here, but I will give you some points to consider that will help you make your decision.

You probably should retake the GMAT if…

• You have other weaknesses in your profile and you feel a high GMAT score will help you compensate for them.

• You have the time to prepare, study hard, and change the outcome.

• You are a reapplicant who has received feedback that suggests you need to boost your GMAT score.

• You blame you’re not-so-brilliant score on a bad day and know that if you retook the GMAT you’d have a meaningfully higher score.

You probably shouldn’t retake the GMAT if…

 • You proudly overshot the 80-80 hurdle. (Note: If you scored above the 80th percentile in both the verbal and quant sections of the GMAT, then you generally don’t need to retake the GMAT, even if you apply to a school at the tippy top of the tier.)

• You’ve already taken the GMAT 3+ times. (Think about the law of diminishing returns.)

• You are aiming too high and know deep down that you should probably just apply to b-schools with lower average GMAT scores at matriculation. If your GMAT is high enough for schools that you would be happy to attend, then you don’t need to retake it.

Join our upcoming webinar: How to Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

GMAT & MBA Admissions: True or False?
MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Terrific Tips
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One