About Retaking the GMAT

The demand for spots in top MBA programs is much larger than the supply of such spots. And to get a competitive edge on MBA program admissions, more and more business school applicants are taking the GMAT twice to get a higher score. If you plan to retake the GMAT--because your scores have expired, or because you earned a low GMAT score the first time around--there are several things to consider before you register for another exam date. Careful planning will ensure that your GMAT retake is worth the effort and expense.

Understand that you cannot retake the GMAT until at least 31 days have passed since your last test date. Also note that you cannot test more than 5 times in any 12-month period. You must pay the full fee each time your retake the GMAT, and every score you receive within a 5-year period will be visible on your official score report.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the higher your initial score, the smaller the increase you will likely see if you retest. So, if you score in the 90th percentile or higher on the first try, the likelihood of increasing your GMAT score is low.

Consider these facts carefully if you plan to retake the GMAT. If you scored a 720 when you were aiming for a 750, you should decide if it is worth paying the fee to retest and resend scores. If you retake the GMAT soon after your first test, and you don't study differently, your score may not improve.

Before taking another exam, study your score report carefully to identify the areas that need improvement. Between tests, you must focus on your weak areas if you want to increase your score. Make a study schedule that you can stick to, and set aside several 2-hour sessions every week where you can study in peace. Don't forget to brush-up on all the areas of the GMAT, including topics that you already know well. Also schedule time for full-length practice tests, especially if you struggle with timing. Not finishing the GMAT may hurt your score worse than guessing incorrectly on many questions.

Retake the GMAT at least 2 months after your last test. If you take it too soon, you won't have enough time to study. If your previous score was very low and you aren't sure where to begin improvement, consider hiring a tutor or signing up for a GMAT prep class to ensure that your retest fee isn't a waste of money.

Keep in mind that if you get a higher score on the GMAT, most business schools will just consider your most recent score, and ignore the previous low score. However, some admissions departments may take the average of your scores. Contact each MBA program to learn their policies.

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