Should I Retake the GMAT? Benefits and Strategies for Improvement


Should I Retake the GMAT? Benefits and Strategies for Improvement

September 26 2023 By The MBA Exchange
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Deciding to retake the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT™) can be daunting. Preparing for the GMAT again, especially after a disappointing result, is challenging. The fear of stress and anxiety on test day can also be overwhelming. However, with the right strategies, you can overcome these obstacles and improve your score.

Should you retake the GMAT?

This is in no way a decision you should take lightly. The very hard question you should ask yourself is: do you KNOW that you can perform considerably better on the retake than you did on the first time? 

While the payoff for big improvement is huge, understand that the potential downside for staying about the same or decreasing is much bigger than some people naïvely assume. Suppose you have a GMAT or two with less-than-impressive scores. You want to retake to improve your score. 

What do you have to do, not just to have a reasonably good chance, but to guarantee that you will kick in the doors on the retake? If you can do that, retaking the GMAT makes sense as a thing to do. Otherwise, it’s maybe not worth the hassle. Another mediocre score isn’t going to give you the boost you need.

It’s best to rock the GMAT in one try. If you do poorly and give yourself a second chance, it’s best to rock it on the next try. Keep in mind that the modern internet-driven business world is also not a world that generously hands out as many chances as you need in order to prove yourself.

What Score Do You Need When Retaking the GMAT?

One GMAT in the low 600’s looks considerably better than three or four scores in the low 600’s. Similarly, if you get, say, a 610, then a 720, then a 660, that’s also potentially problematic. The improvement is great, but then you didn’t sustain performance at that level. 

This score distribution at least invites the interpretation that the 720 was a fluke, not in line with what is more representative of your abilities. Yes, you might be able to spin a story about why the second test was, in fact, the most representative of the three, but understand that putting yourself in that situation is less than desirable. 

Don’t automatically assume that adcom will uncritically accept your best score and simply ignore the others, in the way colleges might with SAT scores. You are no longer a teenager, and much more is at stake in the grown-up world, so you may be held accountable for each and every time you sit for the GMAT. 

How to Prepare for a GMAT Retake

Students often ask how long they should prepare to retake the GMAT. For a major change, say a 100-point leap, you might need more than three months of serious prep. What’s true about a first-time GMAT is even truer of a retake. The brain does not learn best on a binge-studying system: the brain learns best when there is repeated exposure over time, so it has time to integrate patterns at all levels. Many students accumulate mediocre scores by rushing into retakes without sufficient preparation. Allow enough time to thoroughly prepare before scheduling your retake.

Tips and Tricks for Your GMAT Retake

Successfully retaking the GMAT requires a strategic approach to improve your score. 

  1. Start by analyzing your previous performance to understand which sections need the most improvement. Review your score report and focus on the specific question types and topics where you scored low. This targeted approach will help you maximize your study efficiency. 
  2. Set a realistic study plan that fits into your daily routine. Create a detailed schedule that allocates specific times for studying each day and stick to it. Break down your study sessions into shorter, focused periods rather than long, exhaustive ones to maintain concentration and avoid burnout. Incorporate regular breaks into your study plan to rest and recharge.
  3. Using high-quality study materials is essential for effective preparation. Begin with official GMAT prep materials from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the organization that administers the GMAT. These resources are designed to mirror the actual test and provide the most accurate practice experience. Supplement these with other reputable study aids to cover a broader range of questions and strategies. Practice tests are invaluable for tracking your progress and identifying areas for improvement. Take full-length, timed practice exams to simulate the test day experience and build your stamina.
  4. Seek professional guidance if needed. Enroll in a GMAT prep course or hire a tutor to get personalized instruction and feedback. Joining a study group can also provide support, motivation, and different perspectives on tackling challenging problems. 
  5. Focus on improving your test-taking strategies. Learn time management techniques to ensure you can complete each section within the allotted time. Practice answering questions under timed conditions to get used to the pace of the test.
  6. Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Maintain a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and ensure you get enough sleep. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can also help you stay calm and focused during your study sessions and on test day. 

By following these tips and tricks, you can enhance your preparation and increase your chances of achieving a higher GMAT score.

Happy studying!