As an admissions consultant, I am asked this question a lot. The answer really depends on your individual profile, but I shall share some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to retake the GMAT.
Many students think about retaking the GMAT exam, but have questions about the process: Can you retake the GMAT? Should you retake the GMAT? What do schools think about students who have retaken the GMAT?
Can You Retake the GMAT?
Yes! It’s absolutely possible to retake the GMAT, but there are restrictions on when and how often you can take the test.
Make sure you consider this GMAT retake policy when you’re deciding if and when to retake the exam. In the next section, I’ll talk more about how you can decide whether or not retaking the GMAT is the right choice for you.
Should You Retake the GMAT?
Let’s say you want to go to Stanford. The average GMAT for the class of 2019 was a 737. At Tuck it’s a 722. In order to yield a matriculating class with this average, the schools need to admit a cohort with an even higher average. If your numbers are significantly below the average for your target schools, you should seriously consider retaking the exam.
So, before you commit to retaking the GMAT, there are a number of factors to consider. Let’s see what they are…
Is your GPA below the average for your target schools?
If so, you are at a definite disadvantage if your GMAT is also at or below the average. It’s hard to get in with both numbers below the average; although there isn’t a formula, schools can more easily justify absorbing a lower GPA if they are also getting a high GMAT to fold into their numbers.
Have you taken the GMAT more than once?
If not, unless your first score was astronomically high, you should probably take it again. Schools may even wait list you and ask you to retake the exam if your first score was good but not great.
Is your top score consistent with your best practice tests?If not, this is a good reason to take it again – you want your score to reflect your abilities and doing well on practice tests but not on test day may indicate that your test scores are not yet indicative of your potential.
Have you really studied?
Also, be honest with yourself about preparation. Have you been able to dedicate sufficient time to studying? Have you considered a prep course or private tutor, if self-study hasn’t yielded the results you want? If not, consider investing adequate resources and trying again.
Remember that you are more than your GMAT score.
Standardized tests are just part of the admissions process. The best way to minimize their impact (or the leverage them) is to make sure that your entire candidacy is as strong and multifaceted as it can be.
Does Retaking the GMAT Look Bad to Schools?
OK, so, you may want a higher score, but retaking the GMAT can make you a weaker candidate in MBA admissions, right?
In short, no, it won’t. Retaking the GMAT doesn’t make you look bad! Many students retake the GMAT, so schools are used to seeing applicants with more than one set of GMAT scores. In fact, taking the GMAT more than once can show a school that you’re committed to improving on your work.
However, make sure you spend time studying the concepts that you struggled with the first time you took the test. Making solid improvement each time you took the exam will help you look better in the committee’s eyes than taking the exam and not improving at all. Making improvements shows that you’re able to assess your strengths and weaknesses and improve your academic performance accordingly.