Written by Amanda Barth, Director of MBA Admissions, College of William & Mary, Mason School of Business
These are two important questions that I receive frequently from candidates who are disappointed with their GMAT score. Before you decide to retake the exam, there are several reflective questions that you should consider.
It’s important to determine if there’s a specific reason that the result of the exam was lower than anticipated. If it was your first attempt, your nerves were at play, you had inadequate time to prepare, you ran out of time to finish the exam, or if you can pinpoint a section where you know you can improve, I would recommend that you retest.
If you cannot indentify a particular section of the test—verbal, quantitative and/or analytical—where you know you had difficulty and can improve, and you have already taken the test more than once, I would not recommend retaking the exam.
If you’ve taken the exam multiple times without enhancing your score, it’s important to consider other aspects of your candidacy to highlight to an admissions committee, such as academic history and professional work experience. Also, it’s important to understand the GMAT range required by your desired schools and perhaps reconsider your target school if you are unable to achieve those standards.
If you do decide to retake the GMAT exam, I would recommend an intensive GMAT test prep (www.mba.com) to enhance confidence, strategy, knowledge, and preparedness. If you have studied exhaustively for the exam and nerves are keeping you from achieving an enhanced score, I recommend allowing significant time between exams to redirect and retest with a fresh lens. It’s possible to over-prepare for the exam and allow test anxiety to interfere with better results.
Schools view your dedication and willingness to enhance your score as positive, but some programs vary in their evaluation of the GMAT. Be sure to communicate directly with admissions staff to learn how their selection committee perceives an applicant’s multiple attempts at the GMAT. Admissions committees might consider the highest total GMAT score, most recent score, an average of test scores, or score performance in one test category: verbal, quantitative or analytical writing. Some schools might question a candidate with a dramatic change in score performance or excessive testing without improvement. Although GMAT is only one criterion considered in making admissions decisions, it is important to achieve your maximum potential in all aspects of the application process.