Deciding on whether or not to retake your GMAT test and what round to apply in can be a gamble. On one end of the spectrum, it is true that when you apply to Round 1 there is a blank slate for everyone since no one has been admitted yet. There is also a smaller pool of applicants, more available seats and no overrepresentation of any particular profile. On the other end, schools look for well-rounded individuals who fit their culture and demonstrate that they will be able to proactively engage in the rigorous curriculum.
The rule of thumb is to apply to the earliest round, as long as you don’t compromise the quality of your application. Regardless of the round in which you apply, you want an optimal GMAT score, solid recommendation letters, thoughtful and well-crafted essays, and a history of achieving important milestones.
Unlike your undergraduate transcript, work experience, or community involvement, your GMAT score is one area of your application that you can still change significantly. In many cases, retaking the GMAT and holding off for round 2 can improve the quality of your application. The following are 3 reasons why you should retake the GMAT and apply to round 2:
- You didn’t dedicate enough time to study.
This may seem like an obvious reason, but if you invested less than 10 hours per week, it is a good idea to postpone your application to Round 2 and focus on retaking the GMAT to raise your score. At the very least we recommend that our clients should study 1 hour per weekday, and 5 hours per weekend. It is all about practice and becoming familiar with the test format, so that you can identify the kind of questions and solve them quickly.
- You scored low in the quantitative section of the GMAT.
Top MBA programs want to see scores in the 80th percentile in the quantitative Section. Therefore, if you end up scoring high in verbal and low in quantitative, it is best to retake the exam.
- You want to increase your score to reach your target schools.
According to research conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, 75% of those who take the exam twice actually do improve their score on their second shot, by an average of 33 points.
Business schools will in fact take your highest GMAT score. The worst thing you could do is retake the test and receive a lower score, and even then you will have the opportunity to view your score and cancel your scores if you choose. The GMAT exam’s Score Preview feature allows you to make the choice to report or cancel your GMAT score following your sitting of the GMAT exam, at no additional cost. You can also cancel your GMAT score online for a fee, within 72 hours after the scheduled start time of your exam.
Although canceling your score can seem like a comforting option, there are a few things you should take into consideration prior to doing so:
- You will not be able to view them at a later time unless you choose to reinstate your score, which means any cancelled scores can be reinstated up to 4 years and 11 months of the exam date, fees apply.
- You will not be eligible for a refund of any test fees.
- The score cancellation will not be reported or otherwise indicated on all future score reports.
- You must wait 16 calendar days to retake the exam for a third time if you please.
Retaking the GMAT does not leave a black a mark on your application. The second or third time around can not only be a more comfortable test taking experience, but it can also help you to improve your score and ultimately, your business school candidacy.
The goal is to provide a quality application, test scores and all. If you feel that your first GMAT test score does not demonstrate the quality application that you wish to submit, there is not harm in waiting to apply to round 2. Your best option is to analyze your first test and create a strategy for improvement.
For more information to help you prepare for the GMAT, consider these 4 tips.