With about six weeks left before Round 2 deadlines, you may be wondering whether it’s a good idea to retake the GMAT. First off, if your undergraduate GPA was high and you also earn a great GMAT score, that’s probably enough to convince the AdCom you can hack their program’s curriculum and they’ll move on to weighing other aspects of your candidacy.
But a low GMAT score—especially when combined with a poor GPA—could pose a red flag. So what should you do if a) you’re just an awful test-taker, or b) you’re not happy with your initial score? When does it make sense to try again?
While your score is just one data point out of your entire package for the admissions committee to consider, it’s often viewed as proof of academic prowess, and therefore worth improving if the circumstances are right and time permits.
If you have experienced difficulty with taking tests throughout your life, you should try a test prep class or private tutor to see if dedicated guidance helps. And you may also want to look into the GRE (assuming your target schools accept GRE scores), take a few practice tests and see if you fare better.
If not, then we’d advise using the “Optional Essay/Additional Information” field that most applications offer as an opportunity to refocus the AdCom on why you can handle their program, despite a poor test score. Point to your career success or specific quantitative or analytic achievements.
If you’ve typically done just fine taking tests over the course of your academic career, a poor GMAT score may just be a fluke—or the result of insufficient preparation, lack of sleep leading up to the test, or nerves. Regroup and try again. You won’t be penalized for taking the test more than once, so if you know in your gut you can do better, it’s worth a try. Just be sure to take a different approach to test prep and test-taking this time.
Finally, don’t worry a bit of how it might look to the admissions committee if you retake the test multiple times. As Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions at Michigan Ross School of Business, said last week, “We look at the highest score, so it can’t hurt you to take it again. Moreover, we view it favorably when an applicant strives to do better if their score isn’t where they think it could be. Put your best effort forward. It’s probably the last standardized test you’ll ever take.”