PythaGurus Logo
GMAT material

Retaking the GMAT: When, Why, and How to Improve

In the pursuit of attaining a competitive edge for MBA admissions, many candidates often find themselves contemplating a GMAT retake. Here’s an in-depth guide on strategizing for a successful retake to improve your GMAT score.

Understanding the Need for a GMAT Retake

Factors to Consider Before a GMAT Retake

Before embarking on a GMAT retake journey, you must evaluate specific factors that influence your need for retaking the test. Understand your previous GMAT score’s implications and assess if the score significantly undermines your MBA application. A discrepancy between your GMAT score and the average score of your target business schools might indicate a retake’s necessity. Additionally, if you have identified areas of improvement and believe you can enhance your performance, considering a GMAT retake strategy would be prudent.

Timing Your GMAT Retake Wisely

When Should I Retake My GMAT?

Deciding the timing for your GMAT retake is crucial. Typically, you should allow yourself enough time to address your weaknesses and improve. However, it’s also essential not to wait too long, as this might result in losing the rhythm of study and the retention of your gmat syllabus. Ensure to align your retake with the MBA application deadlines, allowing sufficient time for preparation without compromising the quality of your MBA application.

How Much Time is Needed to Prepare for GMAT Retake?

The preparation time varies among candidates based on their individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses. On average, a preparation period of 1 to 3 months is recommended for a GMAT retake. During this time, focus on refining your test-taking strategies, mastering the gmat syllabus, and addressing specific areas where improvement is needed.

Strategies for GMAT Retake Preparation

How Do I Prepare for a GMAT Retake?

Crafting a meticulous GMAT retake strategy is imperative for improvement. Firstly, conduct a thorough review of your previous GMAT exam to identify areas that require attention. Invest time in overcoming low GMAT scores by focusing on your weaknesses and consistently practicing. Utilize various study materials, including GMAT prep books, online resources, and possibly consider enrolling in a GMAT prep course for structured guidance.

Tips for Improving GMAT Score

Below are refined, actionable strategies to guide you towards substantial improvement in your GMAT performance.

  • Practice with Purpose: Engage in regular, dedicated practice sessions to refine your GMAT skills. Consistency in practice not only reinforces your grasp on different GMAT sections but also elevates your comfort and familiarity with the exam’s format and structure. Schedule daily practice, diving into various question types and difficulty levels, to construct a robust foundation for all GMAT sections.
  • Simulate Exam Conditions with Full-Length Tests: Incorporating full-length practice tests into your preparation regimen is essential. These tests mirror the actual GMAT’s environment and timing, providing a realistic gauge of your endurance, speed, and focus during the lengthy examination. Regular exposure to these conditions will acclimate you to the exam’s demands, enhancing your time-management skills and reducing test-day anxiety.
  • Conduct In-depth Review of Errors: After each practice session or test, take the time to analyze your mistakes meticulously. Dive deep into each error, understanding the underlying concepts and the missteps in your reasoning or calculation. This reflective process is crucial for learning, as it prevents the recurrence of similar mistakes in future practices and the actual exam.
  • Zero In on Weak Areas: Identifying and prioritizing your weak areas is vital for efficient preparation. Allocate extra time and resources to these challenging sections. Develop customized strategies to approach these areas, possibly changing your solving techniques or reinforcing fundamental concepts. Directing focused effort towards weak areas will undoubtedly yield significant improvement in your overall GMAT performance.
  • Leverage Expert Guidance: Don’t hesitate to seek advice from seasoned GMAT instructors, tutors, or experts in the field. Their insights, accumulated from years of experience, can offer invaluable guidance, providing shortcuts, strategies, and advice that is tailored to your specific needs and learning style. Additionally, consider joining GMAT study groups or forums where you can exchange tips and resources with fellow aspirants, harnessing collective wisdom and support.

Identifying Who Should Consider a GMAT Retake

Who Should Retake the GMAT?

Not everyone needs a GMAT retake. If your score is already around or above the average GMAT score of students at your target business schools, retaking the GMAT may not be necessary. However, if you believe that your GMAT score does not reflect your true capabilities or if you’ve significantly improved your preparation level since the last attempt, contemplating a retake would be beneficial. Below we dive deeper into the profiles and situations of candidates who should consider a GMAT retake.

1. The Underperformer

Profile: This candidate has consistently scored well in practice exams, only to underperform on the actual test day due to nerves, unfavorable test conditions, or other unforeseen factors.

Example: Sarah, a diligent student, consistently scored 720 on her GMAT mock tests. However, on the test day, she faced severe anxiety, which led to a score of 660. Given the discrepancy between her practice scores and the actual GMAT score, a retake might be suitable for her.

2. The Self-Improver

Profile: This candidate has significantly enhanced their preparation since their last GMAT attempt. They might have taken a prep course, rectified past mistakes, or mastered new strategies that weren’t in place during their previous attempt.

Example: Rohan took the GMAT after a month of self-study and scored a 650. After the test, he enrolled in a comprehensive GMAT prep course, diligently working on his weaknesses. Three months later, he feels much more confident in areas that were previously problematic. Given the evident improvement in his preparation level, he would benefit from a GMAT retake.

3. The Strategy Shifter

Profile: This candidate approached the GMAT with certain strategies initially but has since discovered more effective tactics or understands the nuances of the exam better.

Example: Emily approached her initial GMAT attempt focusing heavily on Quant, her strong suit, and lightly brushing over Verbal, ending up with a disproportionate score. After realizing the importance of a balanced score, she shifted her strategy to focus equally on both sections. Given her strategic pivot, a GMAT retake would be advantageous.

4. The MBA Aspirant with Targeted Ambitions

Profile: This individual has a clear list of target business schools. While their GMAT score might be decent in a broader context, it may fall short of the median or average scores of students at their dream institutions.

Example: Aakash scored a 680 on his GMAT, a respectable score by general standards. However, his dream school, Wharton, has an average GMAT score of 730 for the admitted class. Given the competitive nature of admissions and his specific goal, a retake would be beneficial for Aakash.

5. The Potential Maximizer

Profile: This candidate believes that their GMAT score does not reflect their true potential. Even if their score is close to their target, they firmly believe they can achieve more.

Example: Sophia scores a 710, close to the average score of her target schools. However, she believes she made a few avoidable mistakes and is confident of pushing her score to 740+. Given her conviction about her capabilities, Sophia might consider a GMAT retake.


Realistic GMAT Score Improvements to Expect

Expecting a drastic improvement in your GMAT score might be unrealistic. However, with dedicated effort and strategic preparation, a 30 to 70-point improvement is attainable for many candidates. Acknowledge that each candidate’s situation is different, and improvement may vary.

Important GMAT Retake Guidelines

How Many Times Can I Retake the GMAT?

GMAT policies allow candidates to retake the exam up to five times in a rolling 12-month period. However, it is crucial to balance between retaking the test and submitting your application timely.

Study Duration Before GMAT Retake

The study duration before a GMAT retake depends on how much improvement is needed. For minor adjustments, a month of focused study might be sufficient. However, for significant improvements, dedicating two to three months for preparation is advisable.


Embarking on a GMAT retake requires thoughtful consideration and strategic planning. Understanding the need, timing it wisely, preparing strategically, identifying who should retake, and adhering to retake guidelines are crucial for a successful GMAT retake journey. For personalized advice and success stories, explore MBA consulting services for applicants with low GMAT scores. With dedication and a well-crafted strategy, improving your GMAT score is within reach!

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.

Ready to get into your dream MBA program? Contact us today and let us help you craft a winning application.

Looking to grow in life by exploring a top tier MBA?