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Multiple scores, low AWA scores and low IR scores on the GMAT

GMAT policy states that a student cannot take the test more than 8 times in their entire lifetime. It also states the limit for a 12-month period to be 5 tests and at least a 16-day gap between two consecutive tests.

With the option to re-take the test so many times, even if with a few limitations, it isn’t abnormal for a student to get carried away. People have done worse things while chasing something than taking the GMAT 8 times to chase a perfect score.

But the real question it should you even do that? Is it worth, at all, to retake the GMAT even if you can?

Students have re-taken the GMAT for all sorts of reasons. Some wanted the perfect score, or at least a score more than 700. Some had a score more than 700 on the Quant and Verbal sections but took a dive on their Integrated Reasoning (IR) or Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) sections.

Whatever your reasons might be, there are a few things that you must consider before paying the $250 fee for the GMAT again.

When should you retake the GMAT?

The first most important thing when deciding to retake the GMAT is to be completely honest with yourself. Do you really believe you can score better on the test in this attempt? If the answer is no just start working on your business school applications as that might give you a better chance to get into your dream school.

If you truly believe that you can score better, figure out what went wrong last time. If you cannot find a concrete hurdle that caused you to score less, then you probably won’t be able to score any better on this try and are just in denial.

Once you have figured that you could possibly score better on the GMAT, change your action plan. Set a goal score. Your goal score should be at least the average score of the business schools you wish to attend.

But what should you do if your Verbal and Quant scores are great and Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment took a hit?

How does a low Integrated Reasoning score affect your business school application?

Integrated Reasoning was introduced to the GMAT structure only a few years back. Although the section carries much less weightage than the Verbal and Quant sections, it does matter to business schools.

The problem we face is that most high scorers on the GMAT, from Asian countries, have been recorded to score low on the IR section. This is also a kind of a blessing for you as you will be competing against these students on business school applications.

A below-average IR score might be a red flag to a business school but our advice would be against retaking the GMAT for that alone if you have scored over a 700 on the test.

Will the business schools prefer an applicant that would have a better IR score and a similar GMAT score as yours? Probably. But this can easily be fixed by working on the rest of your profile to make sure can more than cover up for the low IR score.

How does a low Analytical Writing Assessment score affect your business school application?

Unlike the IR score on the GMAT, AWA scores aren’t purely for candidate evaluation reasons. These scores are more often used to catch fraud. Before going further, the fraud we’re talking of here is not one with any legal implications.

Many business school applicants seek out professional writers to write their applications essays. The reason for this ranges from being a bad writer to not having enough time. However, business schools don’t want to read a writer’s work on your applications. They want to understand the student, and won’t be handing out any prizes for the best essay.

If you have a below average AWA score but an application essay which would put Ernest Hemingway to shame the business school you have applied to will probably understand what you tried to pull.

However, a business school admission committee member understands that an AWA essay is unpolished whereas, you would have spent hours polishing and refining your application essays. A close inspection of your writing style will show them that you haven’t tried to pull wool over their eyes and your application will be considered sincerely.

Thus, even with a low AWA score, you might not retake the GMAT as long as you write your application essays yourself.

You can easily score well on the GMAT AWA section by following some simple tips.

Business schools on multiple GMAT scores

One deciding factor for whether to retake your GMAT test would be a business school’s perspective on multiple scores.

This may bring you a little bit of a relief, but most business schools will consider your highest score on the GMAT for your MBA application.

Considering an MBA applicant’s highest score means that the GMAT average of the school increases, thus giving it an edge on the various MBA rankings around the globe. Some business schools have also been seen offering students admits if they could improve their GMAT scores.


The decision to retake a GMAT isn’t as hard as preparing for one but is crucial. Unless you’re sure of doing it, retaking the GMAT could also result in you scoring lesser than the previous time. Overall, another fee of $250 is a big sum to pay if you aren’t sure retaking the test would help you in some way.

There is no harm in doing that though. If you do end up deciding to re-take the GMAT, switch up your GMAT prep or maybe even look for a GMAT prep class to make sure you cover all bases before taking the second shot at the test.


For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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