An acceptable score for one person isn’t necessarily an acceptable score for someone else. When considering retaking the GMAT, you need to ask yourself not just “What was your score?” or “What is the average GMAT score for your target b-school?” but also “Who are you?”
Who you are is almost as important as what you score. For example, a score for a reapplicant who has been advised to retake may be judged differently than that of a first-time applicant. Also, if you’ve already taken the GMAT six or seven times, you may be advised differently than someone who has only taken the exam once. Furthermore, what does the rest of your application profile look like? Does it require a rocket-high GMAT to make up for other weaknesses?
When it comes to retaking the GMAT, we find that there are six applicant types:
1. The Weak Applicant: Your MBA profile has other weak spots.
2. The GMAT Newbie: You have taken the GMAT only once before.
3. The High-Scoring Group Member: Most people with your background/skills/profile do extremely well on the GMAT, but for some reason you didn’t.
4. The Reapplicant: As an MBA reapplicant, you received feedback that suggested you retake the GMAT.
5. The Stressed Tester: You aced practice test after practice test but bombed the actual exam due to “a bad day” or “test day jitters.”
6. The (Wo)Man of Leisure: You have a flexible schedule that allows you plenty of time to study for and retake the exam without interfering too much with your work life and social life and your score isn’t competitive at your target programs.
I’d say that if you fall into ALL of the above categories, then you should definitely retake the GMAT. If, however, you fall into just one or two of them, then you will have to weigh your unique situation to determine if retaking the exam is the best move for you.
Example: Let’s say you fall into categories 1, 2, and 6 above – you have other weakness (and therefore NEED a high GMAT score to balance things out), have only taken the exam once before, and have the time to spare studying and retaking the exam – then you certainly should. BUT…what if you fall into categories 1 and 6, but have already taken the GMAT five or six times? Now retaking the GMAT isn’t necessarily the wisest choice. In a case like this, the right move may be to adjust your school choices to apply to schools that are more within reach, ones that will look favorably at the GMAT score you already have.
Yes, each situation is different, and each combination of application types above will result in a different outcome. Please see GMAT & MBA Admissions 101 for more information on how to interpret your score and determine if you should retake the exam.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and author of MBA Admission for Smarties, the premier admissions consultancy and essay editing company that has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to over 450+ top schools since 1994. Visit Acccepted.com for all your MBA admissions consulting needs today!