There’s no yes or no answer here, but I will give you some points to consider that will help make your decision easier.
The case for retaking the GMAT
Retake the GMAT if…
- You have other weaknesses in your profile and you feel a high GMAT score will help you compensate for them.
A great GMAT score won’t get you into an MBA program, but it can help make up for other things that may be lacking, such as a less-than-stellar GPA. Your GMAT score is very much in your control and is an important screening instrument.
- You have the time to prepare, study hard, and change the outcome.
The more time you have to devote to preparing and studying for the GMAT, the better your score will likely be. Studying for the GMAT in the midst of undergrad studies and doing the “extras” like volunteering that b-schools look for, may not be the best idea.
Take a class, prepare rigorously, and establish a study schedule. Follow this schedule religiously to increase your familiarity with the test.
- You are a reapplicant who has received feedback that suggests you need to boost your GMAT score.
In order to make this reapplication your last, you have to show improvement over your previous app. Retaking the GMAT and receiving a higher score will accomplish that.
- You blame you’re not-so-brilliant score on a bad day and know that if you retake the GMAT you’d have a meaningfully higher score.
Were you not feeling well or had a poor night’s sleep prior to the GMAT? Students taking the exam for the first time may have a lower score due to nerves or unfamiliarity with the testing environment. Your comfort level will probably be higher the second or third time around, which can improve your score.
The case for NOT retaking the GMAT
Don’t retake the GMAT if…
- You proudly overshot the 80-80 hurdle.
If your scores in total and in the individual sections of the GMAT are well above the average scores for the schools you are aiming for, then you don’t need to retake the GMAT. (If it’s the elite schools, you ideally should have close to or above the 80th percentile on both verbal and quant.) Schools use the GMAT as a screening tool. One thing they want to be sure about is your ability to handle the academic program. With these high scores, you have demonstrated this. Use your time and effort working on the other areas of your application.
- You’ve already taken the GMAT 3+ times (think about the law of diminishing returns).
Most b-schools are happy to see a student take the GMAT two or three times, especially if your score increases each time. However, taking it more than that may serve as a red flag to the schools and show a lack of judgement or an obsessive preoccupation with the exam.
- You are aiming too high and know deep down that you should probably just apply to b-schools with lower average GMAT scores.
If your GMAT is high enough for schools that you would be happy to attend, then you don’t need to retake it. The required GMAT scores for the top 10 programs are going up. If you can’t compete with these scores and are not from a distinctive background or demographic, it is not in your best interest to retake the GMAT. Look again at the schools that don’t require such high GMAT scores. Finding one with the right fit will ensure a successful MBA experience.
Watch: Linda Abraham shares three key factors to examine when evaluating your GMAT score
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