One of the most common questions that MBA applicants ask is if they should retake their GMAT exam.
This exam is often the most loathe part of the application process. For MBA applicants, who are several years out of college, preparing for exams no longer comes naturally. Most of us understandably do not want to take the exam more times than necessary but still want to maximize our chances of getting an offer from our dream school.
If your score is below the average of your target schools, you are probably asking yourself this question. Before you go and schedule another exam, first consider the following.
- How many times have you already taken the exam?
If you have taken the exam only once and you have earned a score that is less than the average for your target schools, then you should retake the exam.
The first time taking the exam is stressful, no matter how many practice exams you have taken. The conditions of taking the exam on a computer in a silent room with other test takers are not easy to replicate at home. During your second attempt, you will know what to expect. Having the test-taking experience once can make a difference and may influence your score the second time around.
Taking the exam more than once can also show the admissions committees a level of self-awareness that you are trying to improve your score and your profile.
- If I continue preparing, using all of the resources available to me, will I be able to significantly improve my score?
You should consider how much time you have to devote to preparing for the exam considering other obligations in your life. If you feel that you have the time to continue studying and that you would be able to make a significant improvement, then you should. By significant, you should aim for an improvement of at least 30 points.
However, if you feel that you have given the exam your absolute best effort and that studying further would not significantly change the outcome, then do not lose time attempting to get another 10 or 20 points. Your GMAT score is only one part of your application and the admissions committee will take a holistic approach when reviewing your application. Getting an extra 10 or 20 points will only make a marginal impact on your application. Instead, it is more important to spend time on the other elements of the application.
- Where are the weaknesses in your application?
Step back and consider all of the elements of your application. Few of us are perfect and have some weakness in our application. Some candidates aim to gain a higher GMAT score to counteract a weakness. For instance, a strong quantitative score can help compensate for a lower undergraduate GPA or if you have not had quantitative experience during your career.
The GMAT score demonstrates to admissions committees that you will be able to pass your classes. If your score is lower than the school’s average but you can prove your quantitative abilities through other aspects of your application, this is an important consideration.
Ultimately your GMAT score is only one component of your application and making the decision about retaking it can be difficult. Remember that all top business programs admit qualified applicants with a range of scores. Having a lower than average score does not mean that you cannot get an offer at a top program. Your application will be reviewed holistically and you should focus on making your application as strong as possible. Your time is limited, make sure to use it wisely!