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Should You Retake the GMAT Exam?

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How do business schools perceive multiple GMAT scores? By how much can you realistically expect to raise your score? How many times should you retake the GMAT?

These important considerations will guide your test preparation and your test-taking strategy. Below, you will find helpful facts and advice provided by the GMAT Tutor’s academic director.

It is not uncommon for students to retake the GMAT. Many students ask me if they should retake the test. How I answer that is based on a couple of factors: 1) whether it’s possible that the student can make gains the next time, and 2) how much time and effort would be needed to improve. Students also often ask me often how schools perceive a student who retakes the test several times.

School perceptions


Let’s begin with the latter point. Most schools accept the applicants’ highest GMAT scores. Some schools even take the best scores from an individual section from multiple exams. That’s good, right?

Right! Retaking the GMAT is not usually negatively perceived by business schools. However, let’s qualify this. Taking the exam eight times and not improving can be perceived negatively, while taking the exam fewer times and improving your score sends a strong, positive message.

Net gains

Now that we know that schools appreciate seeing improvement in GMAT scores, how much can you realistically expect to raise your score?

Take a look at this GMAC report. It shows an average net gain of about 31 points for the second time test taker. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like very much. But consider that GMAC also reported that 40 percent of test takers can see a 28 point change from one test to the next and that the standard error of difference between two exams (comparing two different test takers’ exams) is up to 40 points. This makes retaking appear quite worthwhile.

It was even reported that about 10 percent of the retakers made gains of 100 points or higher. Of course the higher the score, the harder it is to make significant jumps.

There are other factors that come into play. The report says that the biggest gains could be seen for:

  • The youngest examinees
  • Native speakers of English
  • Test takers who did not finish the Quant section the first time
  • Test takers whose first scores were below average

You will need to weigh your motivation, time availability and realistic assessment of how much you can improve. Study smartly, get the help you need and analyze yourself properly, and you give yourself the best possible chance to reach your target GMAT score.

Read the original article on the blog of The Economist’s GMAT Tutor

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