When Should You Retake the GMAT?
So, you took the GMAT and you are not happy with the results? What should you do next? An obvious thing to do would be to retake the GMAT. More than 60% of all GMAT test takers retake the GMAT within two months to one year of their previous attempt. The fact that GMAC also allows students to take the GMAT 5 times a year tells that it is fairly common for students to give the GMAT again. However, several questions may run in your mind before you finally make up your mind, such as –
- Is it worth to retake the GMAT?
- What if your score drops further?
- When should you retake the GMAT?
- Will your score improve after your next attempt?
Our suggestion would be to analyse each and every angle before you come to a decision. In this article, we will attempt to answer several questions that you may have regarding your decision to retake the GMAT. Let us start by considering these three questions first –
1. How much did you prepare before your last attempt?
Be very honest to yourself with this question. Because, if you prepped well and gave your 100% in the test, chances are you may not be seeing a remarkable improvement in your next attempt. But if you had prepared well but could not perform because you were nervous or you were under-prepared, then retaking the GMAT can help.
2. What is the range of scores that your target school accepts?
A good score for you will depend upon what your target school requires. You can compare your scores with the students who received an admit from your target school to know whether you stand a chance or not. If your score lies within the range, the better thing to do would be to focus on improving other aspects of your profile. If not, then you can retake the GMAT.
3. Are you seriously considering taking the GMAT again?
If you are not driven towards taking the GMAT and are just doing it under pressure, hoping that your scores will improve, you might need to think again. But, if you were well-prepared the last time but could not perform, then you must revisit concepts , work on the gaps you possibly left, be mentally prepared, and then reappear for the test.
Now, lets take up the other causes why students consider retaking the GMAT –
THE PRIMARY CAUSE: Taking the GMAT again because of a low score
If you are retaking the GMAT because of a low score in the previous attempt, the first thing to do is to identify the problem. Out of every 10 students who go for the GMAT more than once are unhappy with their scores. So, if having a low score is your reason too, let’s discuss some of the common reasons why you got a lower score and how you can fix it –
Are your basics clear?
The importance of understanding all the basics can be understood with a simple example. Suppose you left Inequalities because you found it confusing. Now, while taking the GMAT, you are faced with a 700-level question on inequalities and you get it wrong. The GMAT algorithm will start serving you easier questions, thus impacting your overall score. On the other hand, if you get a 500-level question wrong, you will then be served with easy level questions, impacting your score in Quant. So, if you had left a topic or two before giving your last GMAT attempt, you must cover your bases and retake the GMAT again if you want to improve your score.
Can you apply what you learn?
Learning basics is one thing, applying them accurately is another. Since GMAT is a test of logic, you will never be asked to define what Prime numbers or Tenses are. It will rather ask you to apply those concepts to solve questions based on these topics. So, if your basics are weak, you may still be able to solve the easy and medium-level questions, but if you are aiming for a higher score and are struggling to solve the harder questions, you might need to work on your basics again.
Were you nervous before the test?
Performance pressure during exams like GMAT is common. Students often get anxious before the test and may not be at the top of their game. This affects their performance greatly during the exam. If you were nervous before the exam or feel that you could not perform up to the mark, there is a high chance that you marked your answers in a hurry, without thinking adequately. You must prepare yourself mentally before retaking the GMAT.
Are you targeting a particular section?
So, there are cases when you get a decent overall score, but your performance in an individual section did not match with your capability. So, based on your level of prep and capability, suppose you got a high score in Quant but your Verbal score was lower or vice versa. If you are confident that you can score better in that particular section, taking the GMAT again seems viable.
You were not mentally prepared to take the GMAT
Do you think that one of the reasons why you didn’t quite get to your expected score was because you didn’t feel at your game on the day of the test? You may have been distracted for some reason or were simply having a bad day. If that was the case, we recommend that you take the GMAT again. The right frame of mind before and during the test should be an integral part of your preparation strategy.
May be you chose the wrong section order
If we were talking about the GMAT before 2017 (or the Online GMAT), section order would not have made into the list. However, post 2017, the GMAC permitted students to choose their section order for the center-based test. So, for instance, if Verbal is your strong pursuit, you can either choose to attempt it first because you are confident that you’ll perform better when taken up first or you can choose to attempt Quant first because you’ll start with a fresh mind. In any case, knowing which section you should solve first can be a game changer for you.
Must Read: How to Effectively Plan Studies for GMAT?
5 Important Factors to Consider Before Retaking the GMAT
Apart from the directions given by GMAC that you can only give the GMAT 5 times per year and you have to wait for 16 Calendar days before retaking the GMAT, there are certain other aspects that must be taken into account. Here are five of the most important factors you must consider before deciding to take the GMAT again –
Are you trying to compensate for your GPA?
Having a low GMAT score along with a low GPA can may not be the best combination for you. While there is nothing much you can do about your GPA, there is always the option to retake the GMAT and improve your score. A higher GMAT score can always help compensate for a low GPA.
How many times have you taken the GMAT?
If you have only taken the GMAT once and your first score was not exceptionally high, do not shy away from retaking the GMAT. Even though there is no rule, schools are likely to accept a candidate with a lower GPA if their GMAT scores are above the average and have a strong profile.
Is your top score consistent with your practice test scores?
If your previous GMAT score was lower than what you have been scoring on your practice tests, it is a good indicator that retaking the GMAT can be a good decision. There is still scope for improvement and you must take the chance.
Are there other aspects of your profile that can compensate for your lower score?
Retaking the GMAT is not always the only resort. You can minimize the impact of a lower score by other aspects of your profile. A multifaceted candidacy, such as an upward trending career graph, performance indicators on your profile that convey your strengths, and other aspects outside work that show that you genuinely play an active part in your community can enhance your scope of seeking an admit from the school you are targeting.
How much time do you have before application deadlines?
Is there a deadline approaching? Do you have less than 20 days to get your score in? If yes, let’s reconsider the options. If you are skeptical about your new GMAT scores arriving at your target school before the deadline approaches, there is not point taking the GMAT again. The better shot would be to take a look at the other options available at hand and apply before the deadline approaches.
Final Call: Should You Retake the GMAT if You Are Unhappy with Your Score?
According to GMAC, out of all the students who take the GMAT, only 43% students send their scores to business schools. Out of the rest, a majority plans to retake the GMAT at some point or the other. So, if you are unhappy with your GMAT score, do not worry. You always have the option to prepare again and retake the test. However, once again, you should ensure that you do it only if –
- You are sincerely thinking about retaking the test
- There is scope for improvement
- You have time to prepare and are not facing a tight deadline.
How can you improve your GMAT score?
If you have recently taken the GMAT, there are two options in front of you –
i) You are happy with your score, or
ii) You are considering retaking the GMAT
Let’s talk about the second set of people. If you are one of those MBA aspirants who are unhappy with their scores, your second (or next) attempt at GMAT should be carried out more carefully than it did the first time. A step-by-step approach to reach your target GMAT score should be taken. Here’s how you can carry out your GMAT prep –
i) Don’t just solve questions – When you are practicing questions during GMAT preparation, always ensure that you understand the solution in-depth. If you get the question right, figure out why you got the question right and solve the subsequent questions from that topic using the same approach.
Similarly, if you get the question wrong, understand where you went wrong and how you can fix it. Be mindful of the mistake you made and try not to repeat it again.
ii) Learn the Right Methods to Solve Questions – A lot of students simply learn a concept and then directly jump into practicing questions. But, do you know what is wrong with this approach? When you do this, you skip the most important step in the process, i.e. to identify the right approach to solve the question. Knowing the right method to solve a question can increase accuracy and reduce the time taken to solve a question.
iii) Practice GMAT-styled questions – Don’t just randomly go on solving questions during prep. If you think solving more questions is the key, you are doing it all wrong. In GMAT prep, it is always quality over quantity. Instead of solving 100s of questions, you can practice 50-60 good questions from a particular topic, solidify your concepts, learn and practice the right method, and you’ll be good.
Need a personalized study plan to prepare for the GMAT? Get it here
Last But Not the Least: Take it Easy
Take your time to learn concepts, practice, and prepare for the GMAT. Do not be too hard on yourself. Your GMAT prep journey should be a gradual one. If you are facing a deadline, build yourself a detailed study plan and stick to it. Devote more time to your weaknesses and work on the gaps in your learning right away. Try not to leave piled up doubts for the end. And, if you need strategic help with your GMAT prep, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org