This may seem hard for some test-takers to believe, but sometimes even the high-scorers contemplate retaking the exam. It’s not unheard of for someone with a score of 700 – or even higher – to retake the GMAT to see if they can hit a higher number.
But should they? As is usually the case with admissions issues…it depends.
Who are YOU? An Applicant with a Distinctive Background
Were our applicant here a Latin American brand manager or an African pharmaceutical salesperson – that is, if their demographic had little representation in the business school applicant pool – then there would really be no reason to retake the exam. Once they’ve demonstrated competence in each section of the GMAT and present a total score of 700+ – meaning, their quantitative and verbal scores placed them above the 80th percentile in each section – then their GMAT score really becomes a (nearly) non-issue and retaking the test becomes a waste of time that could have been better spent elsewhere.
Who are YOU? An Applicant with a Standard Background
But here’s the thing: if you have a more typical background, and especially if you find yourself in an over-represented part of the applicant pool at top business schools, then the above advice just may not apply to you.
You need a higher score.
Who might be in this group? Indian males in engineering and computer science. Investment bankers. Management consultants. All these group tend to do well on the GMAT and send lot of applications to business schools.
Are YOU applying to Top 10 Programs?
The GMAT score has risen dramatically this year. A couple of years ago you could talk about a balanced 700 being competitive in the top 10. No more:
Of the eight schools in the US News top 10, four programs now have average GMAT scores of 730+ and only two are under 720. The year-over-year increases are the largest I can remember. Those increases sent me scurrying through back issues of U.S. News to see if my memory was playing tricks on me. It wasn’t. These are the largest average increases in the last five years.
What Should YOU Do?
So, if you score a 700 on the GMAT, should you retake the exam? It depends on the schools you’re applying to, and it depends on your demographic, not to mention the strength of the rest of your application. If you are applying from a common sub-group in the applicant pool with a fairly typical background and extracurricular profile, and you are aiming for a top 10 program, a 700 score will be a negative for you. You should consider a retake. For other applicants, that 700 will be just fine.
Do your research, be as objective as possible, and figure out the target score – and the target schools – that are best for YOU.
And if you’re still not sure, come to The GMAT: Low Scores, Retaking & Strategies for Success, a live webinar that I will present on Oct. 27. We’ll go into other factors to consider in deciding whether to retake or not.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.