Retaking the GMAT

So you're considering retaking the GMAT.

Maybe you weren't satisfied with how you did the first time around, or perhaps your prospective schools have given you some indication that your score isn't quite what it should be.

Before you commit to a redo, consider three questions:

Question 1: How prepared were you for the GMAT the first time around?

If you prepared thoroughly and did the best you could, you may not see a significant increase in your score. If you didn't spend much time studying, or were surprised or overwhelmed on the day of the test despite your preparation, you can probably improve your score by putting in additional GMAT test prep.

Question 2: What is the range of scores for admitted students at the schools you are considering?

A “good” score for you depends on where you want to apply. As you are doing your business school research, compare your GMAT  to those of the students who got accepted to the programs on your list. You can find GMAT  breakdowns and acceptance rates for many schools in our Best Business Schools book or in our business school profiles.

Are you within the range? If not, then retaking the test will probably be in your best interest. If you are well within the range, you may be better off focusing your efforts on the rest of your business school application.

Question 3: Are you serious about preparing for the test?

Be honest with yourself. If you don't have the time or the inclination to prepare, taking the test again probably won't result in a higher score. The exception to this is if you did feel prepared and just had a bad day. Then, by all means, review your material and head back to the testing center.

If you do decide to retake, be sure you've worked out the kinks in your test-taking strategy. Did you prep on your own? With a book? If you used one method the first time, it might be time to switch up your study routine, either with a small class situation or a 1:1 GMAT tutor.  Keep in mind that you can only take the GMAT once per calendar month and no more than five times per year. Your three most recent valid (within five years) scores will be reported on your score report.

Are you better suited for the GRE instead? Read our article about the differences between the GMAT and GRE tests, and see the list of the 700 schools that currently accept both the GRE and the GMAT.