Retaking the GMAT? Here’s What You Need to Know First!
Last updated on May 19th, 2020
Okay…So you feel that you didn’t do your best in the last GMAT exam, is it? And you’re not happy with your GMAT score as well. So, are you planning to retake the GMAT now?
Before you take the final call on retaking the GMAT, we at CrackVerbal would suggest that you read this complete article. This article will not only help you figure out if you actually need to retake the GMAT, based on the score you have got, but also provide you with five effective strategies to score better when you retake the GMAT exam.
Before we get into all the details, let us try to answer this simple question — What exactly is a ‘good GMAT score’, anyway?
In our opinion, the answer to this question is entirely subjective because it depends on where you apply to with your GMAT score. For instance, a 700 on the GMAT is a decent score for someone who wants to get into the Indian School of Business (ISB). But the same score won’t cut it for someone who wishes to apply to Harvard Business School.
Anyway, we are sure that you have your own understanding of what a good GMAT score is for you. And right now, you may be stuck with a lower score than what you think is ‘good’. If you’ve taken your GMAT with a certain expectation and ended up with a score lower than that, you’re likely to consider retaking the GMAT in the hope of getting a better GMAT score.
Now, that’s a good idea!
Retaking the GMAT is honestly a good idea for most of the people. However, you need to remember that a GMAT second attempt is going to cost you $250. So, retaking a $250 test without proper planning and expectation management is not the best way forward.
So, we are here to help you plan and prepare for your GMAT second attempt, by sharing all the information we have garnered over the years of our industry experience, student interactions and observations regarding retaking the GMAT so that you do not make a mistake.
In this article, we will try to analyze why you want to retake the GMAT, whether you should actually make a second attempt and give you five effective strategies to help you score better when you retake the GMAT. We also have an “infotainment” section in the end. Don’t miss it.
So, here’s what we will be discussing in this article:
We know that you are in a hurry to figure out whether you should retake the GMAT. So, we are not going to waste any more of your time.
Let’s get into the details of each of the discussion points here.
1. Are you retaking the GMAT because of your low score?
You probably know that the first step in problem-solving is admitting that you have a problem. Congrats on having done that part already!
Now, let’s move on to step two of problem-solving: identify the problem.
If you do not know what it is that you’re doing wrong, how do you correct it? It’s important to understand what went wrong before you set out to correct it. Failing this, you will just be shooting in the dark.
So let’s take a look at the six possible scenarios that may have caused you to get a low score. Read through each one carefully so that you can identify the problem or maybe in some of your cases, the problems.
i. Issue with basics of the GMAT
Let us explain this point to you with a quick and easy example.
What if you just skipped all the classes in school until class twelve and directly appeared for the board exams?
You will definitely fail, right? Why does this happen?
You will fail in the board exams because you do not know the basics of the topics in them.
It is like constructing a house. You need a strong foundation to build the next two floors on top of it.
It is the same with GMAT preparation as well. If, for some reason, you decide to skip learning the basics of each section, you will most probably end up getting a low score in your GMAT exam.
Let us say that you are weak in solving the Inequality questions on the GMAT. If you choose to leave out all the Inequality questions and focus only on your strengths, the result will still be low.
Now why is that?
You get a minimum of two Inequality questions on the GMAT. These could either be 700-level questions or 500-level questions, depending on your luck.
We say ‘luck’ because in case even if one of those questions is a 500-level question, and you get it wrong, the next few questions will all be 500-level. So your expertise on all the other GMAT sections will make no difference!
So, it is important to make sure you cover all your bases.
If you leave anything untouched, you may end up regretting it quite badly. If you think this scenario may be the explanation for your low GMAT score, in spite of getting a majority of questions right, you should retake the GMAT. However, this time, you should ensure that you are thorough with the basics before you book your GMAT exam slot.
Now, if you are planning to retake the GMAT now, you might want to read the article and understand all about the Interim GMAT Exam You Can Take from Home! Don’t forget to read up about the slot availability if you are looking to book a GMAT exam slot.
ii. Difficulty in applying what you learnt
We often come across students who grasp concepts very easily. It could take as little as a single session for them to really understand what a particular concept is. If we ask them to explain the concept to someone else, they even do that quite well.
However, when it comes to applying these concepts to GMAT questions, they struggle.
Remember that kid in your class who even knew the definition of the term “integer”, but failed in math that term? This scenario is similar to that.
The point we’re trying to make is that it is not just enough to understand a concept. You need to be able to apply them to solve the questions you face on the GMAT exam.
There’s a full chance that you walked into your exam center feeling fully prepared.
You probably knew all the concepts necessary to do well. But maybe the questions threw you off your game and you ended up getting a low score.
If this scenario sounds anything like what happened to you during your attempt, retaking GMAT sounds like a great idea for you.
We would highly recommend that you invest a lot of time into examining where you went wrong. If you have taken the test centre delivered GMAT exam, we would like to request you to opt for the Enhanced Score Report and analyze it thoroughly. It might be a good idea to get a third person’s perspective on this if you know someone who will be able to give you a balanced opinion here.
In fact, why don’t you get your Enhanced Score Report analyzed for free?
If you work on identifying and effectively targeting your weaknesses, retaking the GMAT will most likely yield great results for you.
iii. You got nervous!
The simplest explanation for a low GMAT score could be nervousness.
There are times, especially when it comes to competitive exams like the GMAT, when you experience high performance pressure that you become far too nervous.
Trying to answer multiple choice questions while you’re nervous is a bigger challenge than most people will dare admit. You often end up clicking the wrong option simply because you’re in a tearing hurry to answer it well within time and move on to the next section.
Unfortunately, since the GMAT is an adaptive test, you can’t afford to make many mistakes. You can’t know which questions carry more marks than the others, so there’s no way to know where you can afford to be reckless. In effect, that means you can never really be reckless at all.
In a situation where you need to be alert and on top of your game the entire time, nervousness can really wreak havoc.
If tension and nerves were responsible for your low score, you should retake the GMAT.
iv. Insufficient Section Scores
Did you look at your scorecard and think, “Okay this is not very bad, but I could have done better on Verbal”?
Or, “Oh, I could have solved the Quant questions better”?
You should know that this is one of the most common reactions we’ve observed among our students. In most cases, people choose to go ahead and apply to suitable B-Schools anyway. A few people end up carrying this feeling for much longer.
If you’re one of those people who cannot get rid of the feeling that you could score better in one of the two major sections on the exam, retaking the GMAT may benefit you.
You see, when you make up your mind to focus on a certain aspect of an exam, you’re essentially strengthening whatever weaknesses you had the first time. If you retake the GMAT after ironing out the rough patches in your prep, chances are that you will score significantly more than you did the last time.
Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, it leaves very little room for errors.
So, if you think that this is the reason for your overall GMAT score, take the effort to expand the horizons of your prep to include every aspect of the GMAT syllabus. Study every detail before you attempt to retake the GMAT, and we believe you will stand a good chance to score well.
v. You weren’t in the right frame of mind when you took the GMAT
Aren’t there some days when you feel like…how do you say it? Well, some days when you can’t explain how you feel?
Similarly, sometimes you will not be able to figure out why you did badly on your GMAT. It might be nearly impossible to put into words the feeling you get when you just know that something is not right. If you had this feeling when you took the GMAT, the chances are that you were distracted.
The point is, you may have just been having a bad day when you had to take the GMAT. And you hence, you will not be able to pin your low GMAT score against any of the reasons we mentioned earlier. For whatever reason, if your head was not in the game when you took the test, it’s no wonder you didn’t get your target score.
So, what can you do now? We would recommend that you retake the GMAT if you feel like this was the case with you.
If you’re willing to invest the time and money into retaking the GMAT, doing so might actually bring you a better score.
However, to achieve the target score, you will probably need to make a few changes to your GMAT preparation strategy. Developing the right frame of mind for the test is also an important part of preparing for the GMAT. This needs to be a part of your GMAT preparation plan.
vi. Wrongly Selected Section Order
In 2017, the GMAC. owner and administrator of the GMAT, introduced a new feature into the GMAT: the Select Section Order option. Basically, this feature allows you to choose which part of the test you want to attempt first.
The Select Section Order option has had quite an impact on percentiles and scoring patterns among test-takers, globally.
Unless your latest GMAT attempt was before 2017 or after the new interim GMAT alternative exam was introduced, both the times when there is no select section order option, you’re probably well-versed with how this option works. What we want to talk about here is what happens if you pick the wrong order of sections.
P.S. You will be able to put this information to use once the entire world gets back to the test centre GMAT delivery pattern.
When we say ‘wrong order’, we’re not talking about the possibility of you mistakenly picking one section when you meant to pick another. Let us demonstrate with an example.
Suppose Quant is your strong suit and you find Verbal comparatively easier. As such, you may decide to finish Quant first and then solve Verbal. However, you might end up feeling much more mentally drained by the time you finish the Quant section. This is more likely to happen especially if you haven’t prepared using the official questions.
So, when we say ‘wrong order’ we mean you may have chosen a poor section order.
If you aren’t used to solving official questions like those provided in the Official Guide, it’s easily possible that you may end up underestimating how exhausting it can be to finish a particular section. Often, this can lead to poor performance in the subsequent sections. This leaves you with a lower GMAT score than you may have hoped for.
You should retake the GMAT if this is the reason why you didn’t score well in your GMAT exam.
Now that we have identified six possible scenarios that can lead you to achieving a low GMAT score, let us see how you can improve your scores when you retake the GMAT.
Note: We will be providing special tips on how to improve the GMAT score, based on your current GMAT performance, in the next section.
2. Should you retake the GMAT based on your current GMAT score?
So, we at CrackVerbal have a no discrimation policy. But here we’re dividing our advice based on your existing score simply because your reason(s) for retaking the GMAT and your expectation from the exam will vary according to the score you got.
We have tried our best to tailor our advice to fit your reason to retake the GMAT.
And so, we’ve divided this section of the article into five parts:
Before we proceed any further, we’d like you to take a careful look at the chart detailing statistics released by the GMAC.
Next, let’s discuss what you should do based on your current GMAT score.
i. GMAT score more than 750
If you’ve scored 750 or above on the GMAT, retaking it will serve no real purpose. Let us demonstrate why, using GMAT score charts.
|Total Score (530-800)||Percentile||Total Score (200-520)||Percentile|
As you can see in the chart above, if you have a GMAT score of 750 or above, you currently lie in the 98th percentile. Scoring beyond 750 will only put you in the 99th percentile.
Also read: Learn How Sushiksha scored a 770 on the GMAT
What you need to understand here is that the effort it takes to raise your score by a percentile is not proportional to the reward. Retaking the GMAT only to rise up by a single percentile will not make much of a difference, no matter which schools you plan to apply to.
If you’re thinking of retaking the GMAT in the hope that scoring higher will improve your chances of getting into one of the top ten B-Schools in the world, let us suggest an alternative.
With the GMAT score that you have now, a well-written MBA application can get you into one of the top B-Schools.
We would suggest that Instead of breaking your head trying to get a higher GMAT score, focus on perfecting your “Why MBA?” essay, and work on your other essay responses as well.
ii. GMAT score between 700-750
The only reason that would justify retaking GMAT with a score between 700 and 750 is if you’re intent on getting into the top 10 MBA programs in the world. In general, a GMAT score between 700 and 750 is beyond just ‘acceptable’ for a vast number of highly reputed B-Schools.
However, it is important to understand here that crossing this score bracket is the most challenging of all.
Take a look at the chart detailing the maximum score increase from retesting. You will notice that those who score over 700 in their first attempt are not likely to gain much from retaking the GMAT. More than 40% of those who retake the GMAT, after scoring over 700 the first time, are not likely to see a score increase.
But if you have made up your mind to try again anyway, you must be aware that there’s probably a rather complex set of reasons as to why you didn’t do better.
Not all the scenarios mentioned earlier in this blog will be applicable to you if you’ve scored more than 700 on your GMAT attempt.
For example, scenario one – “issue with basics”, is almost impossible if you’ve scored above 700. The GMAT is adaptive, so you would have had to answer most of the questions correctly in order to get that kind of a score. You can’t possibly have answered a majority of the questions correctly if your basics were not up to the mark.
Similarly, scenario two – “application trouble”, is also improbable because those who have trouble applying concepts to GMAT questions will most likely be unable to score more than 700.
The point is, your problems are not likely to be covered in the six simple scenarios mentioned earlier. You’re likely to be facing a combination of various other issues, so you should have a bespoke strategy that will address these issues to help you retake the GMAT and improve your score.
As such, we suggest that you get an enhanced score report before designing your strategy to retake the GMAT.
What we would suggest for you is to take the time to analyse your mistakes, to figure out where you went wrong and to identify the reason behind each mistake. If you think you can do this yourself, please do so. If you feel that you need help with this, you can avail of our personal tutoring service.
iii. GMAT score between 650-700
This is probably the most competitive score band on the GMAT. The percentiles for this band range from 76 to 89 percentile.
The reason this band has the highest competition, especially among Indian test-takers, is that this score range falls squarely between being just short of good enough for premier B-Schools and being too good for second-tier B-Schools.
It gives people just about enough reason to try harder to make it to the absolute top rather than settling for something less.
However, the competition among Indians in this range is greater because most of these aspirants belong to one over-represented majority or another.
People who come from over-represented groups find it fairly difficult to stand out of the crowd and be noticed. They often perceive securing a high score on the GMAT as a way to differentiate their profile from the rest.
So, what do we mean by “over-represented groups” ?
Let’s take an example to understand this better. A male Indian IT Engineer with a GMAT 690 might stand a chance to get into a B-School like Columbia. However, a male Indian IT Engineer with a GMAT 730 stands a much better chance of getting into the same school.
The idea that a great GMAT score is the only way for a person from an over-represented group to stand out, is not entirely correct. There are many ways in which you can differentiate your profile; these ways have nothing to do with your GMAT score.
In fact, at CrackVerbal, we have seen many candidates make it into reputed B-Schools in spite of being not so happy with their GMAT scores. Samvit Roy and Shripad Sonavay both scored 690 on the GMAT and got into Schulich School of Business, while Vivek Saurabh got into Purdue and Pittsburgh with just a 630 on his GMAT.
While Samvit and Shripad now work at IBM in Toronto, Canada, Vivek works at Amazon in the United States of America.
So, how did they get into such good B-Schools despite not having such great GMAT scores?
We have no magic here at CrackVerbal and we believe that there is no shortcut to success. All we did was to help them draft their MBA application essays that got them their B-School admits!
What we are trying to tell you here is just that, if your GMAT score is between 650 and 700, you don’t have to necessarily retake the GMAT to get into a reputed B-School. You can achieve it by focusing your time and energy on building a strong application.
P.S. If you’re aiming for B-Schools which accept applicants with GMAT scores above 710, retaking the GMAT might be worth it.
iv. GMAT score between 600-650
First things first. Do not feel bad that you are not in the 98 percentile range.
There’s a wide range of schools you can apply to if your GMAT score is between 600 and 650 . If you build a strong MBA application, you could possibly get into some great B-Schools around the world.
To get into reputed schools with a score in the range of 600-650 is not easy, but you can still make it if you can differentiate your profile from the rest. Having generic achievements, skills, and qualifications will not help your chances of getting into a B-School.
However, if you’re looking at getting into any of the top 30 B-Schools in the US and Europe or even the leading B-Schools in India, like ISB, IIM-A, IIM-B, etc., you may want to retake the GMAT. A higher score will drastically improve your chances of getting into tier-1 business schools.
Analyze the scenarios resulting in GMAT aspirants’ low scores mentioned earlier in this post, identify the ones that apply to you, and work on it to ensure that the same problems do not occur when you retake the GMAT.
v. GMAT score between 500-600
You may stand a chance to get into some B-Schools with a GMAT score that falls in the 500-600 range. But this score range is too generic for us to guide you on where you should apply and which programs will suit your needs.
If you are serious about getting an MBA, we would highly recommend that you consider retaking the GMAT.
It may come as bad news to hear that your application stands a high chance of rejection with a GMAT score in this range, but there’s a largely positive flipside to this situation, too.
You may have noticed that only 23% Indian test-takers retake the GMAT after their first attempts. Of those, the ones who score less than 600 in their first attempt are also the ones who routinely see the highest increment in scores upon retaking the test.
Around 30% of the GMAT retakers who score less than 600 in their first attempt can expect to see a score increase between 30 and 100 points. A few students from this score range have also seen an increase of 190+ points! Isn’t that incredible?!
The key takeaway here is that if you retake the exam, you have a better chance to improve your GMAT score than those who’ve scored more than 600 the first time around. Don’t lose hope. Instead, get back to the drawing board and start making your new study plan.
Study your errors, work on your weaknesses, and retake the GMAT when you’re ready.
You can score significantly higher in your second GMAT attempt if you really put your back into your GMAT preparation. You now have an opportunity to turn your low GMAT score into a tool to help you do much better when you retake the GMAT.
You can read up about how our students achieved their dream GMAT scores and got admitted into their preferred B-Schools on CrackVerbal’s Success Stories page on the website. You will be motivated to work hard towards your GMAT score goal.
3. What are the five effective strategies to get a better GMAT score?
We are taking the liberty to assume that you have made up your mind about retaking the GMAT. You have only two options:
i. Retake the GMAT
ii. Be happy with your current GMAT score and apply to your dream B-Schools
If you belong to the first set of MBA aspirants who are looking to retake the GMAT exam, we have a few strategies here that will help you prepare better for the exam.
If there is one thing that we have picked up over the years of our industry experience, it is understanding where GMAT aspirants could go wrong when they take their exams. And that is why we are able to share these five strategies with you that will definitely help you maximize your GMAT score:
i. Start looking at a question with a fresh pair of eyes
You must have been thorough with all the GMAT topics. But yet you got a lower score than you expected, right?
Here’s what you should do. Change the way you approach a question.
We know that it is really easy to preach. But here’s how you can easily do it.
So, when you reject a right answer to a particular question and choose the wrong answer, go back and look at the right answer and figure out what aspect of it made it seem wrong to you. Similarly, look at the wrong answer you chose and figure out why you assumed it was right.
This approach will help you choose the right answer quickie when you retake the GMAT because you will have gained a lot more knowledge on the topics.
ii. Solve only official GMAT questions
We ask you to solve only the official GMAT questions for a reason. The reason is that the GMAT is a very precisely calibrated exam.
This means that if you were to take the GMAT on a Monday and a Wednesday, the difference in your GMAT score will only be around 30 points. That is how standardized the GMAT exam is.
So, for this reason, we would suggest that you practice all the questions in the official GMAT book and then practice even more questions from the Verbal Review and Quant Review books.
Once you have attempted all the questions from these books, you can practice the questions in the Advanced Questions book.
iii. Analyze the questions when you are practicing
It is time you stopped worrying about the right and the wrong answers.
You need to spend more time analyzing the questions now. You need to try and figure out if there is a larger pattern showcased in a particular question and figure out how you can eliminate the wrong answers faster.
Once you start doing this, you will realize that a lot of questions follow a larger pattern and you will then be able to figure out wrong answers easily. You will also understand what the questions are actually trying to ask you.
This will help you choose the right answers when you retake the GMAT.
iv. Build self-awareness to stay focussed
So, when you start analyzing the questions, there is one thing that you will surely start doing – Go to forums like the GMAT Club or Beat the GMAT to figure out the explanation order that they have given.
What we would like to tell you is, instead of doing that, try to enhance your self-awareness.
You definitely know the answer to a particular question. Sometimes, it is just that you need to spend some time to figure it out.
So, we would suggest you to do it and take all that you understand from the question.
This will help you achieve a better score when you retake the GMAT because now you will start choosing the right answer by having understood the question completely.
v. Go easy on yourself
Do not try to get an 800 when you retake the GMAT.
Once you start understanding the questions and you begin enhancing your self awareness, you will realize that you can actually afford to get three to four mistakes in each section and still manage to get around 740 in your GMAT exam.
And with a 740 GMAT score, you can be sure that no B-School is going to reject you based on that at least, right?
The only point you need to keep in mind is, which are those three questions that you can mark wrong. You don’t have a choice here, unless you take control and decide the questions that you want to guess the answers to.
Once you take control in this manner, you will definitely see the difference in your GMAT score.
You can watch the video in which CrackVerbal CEO and MBA expert, Arun Jagannathan, clearly explains these five strategies in detail here:
Now that we have covered all the aspects pertaining to your retaking the GMAT, let us move on to a lighter but necessary topic.
4. Why don’t we bust some GMAT retake myths now?
You have successfully made it to the most fun part of this article!
So, in this section of the article, we would like to share with you some of the incredibly superstitious myths and seemingly logical “facts”, that we have heard, about the GMAT.
We are sharing these myths with you because we do not want them to be affecting the way you approach the GMAT exam. We have taken it upon ourselves to debunk these myths and hopefully keep them from having any bearing on any of your decisions regarding retaking the GMAT.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
GMAT retake myth 1: You can score better if you retake the GMAT from a different country
From where we stand, we believe that this “theory” comes from the idea that the questions you will face on the GMAT will differ according to the country you’re in.
Fact: GMAT questions are the same all over the world.
Going to a different country will not make any difference to the questions that will appear on the GMAT for you. The same set of questions will appear for every person taking the GMAT around the world at a given point in time. Since it is a standardized test, the GMAT cannot be tweaked to create a discrete difficulty level per country.
Another reason we can think of why this particular myth might have gained traction is the belief that your percentile rank will change based on the scores of people taking the GMAT from the same country.
But the percentile ranks have nothing to do with the country you’re in.
Your GMAT percentile rank is calculated based on the scores of people who have taken the GMAT in the three years preceding your attempt. These are scores that people from all over the world have achieved over the three years. That will not change wherever you take the test from.
So, if you are in India and have plans to go to the United States to retake the GMAT, you better cancel your tickets already.
GMAT retake myth 2: Your GMAT score is affected by when you take the exam
A surprising number of people believe that you could get a better GMAT score during certain months as compared to others. This idea may be stemming from the belief that the GMAT is tweaked to make it tougher during the B-School application season.
Fact: The GMAT is adaptive to your performance only.
The difficulty level of the GMAT is based entirely on your performance on the test. If you correctly answer tougher questions on a consistent basis, the average difficulty and value of successive questions will rise. We say average because you may answer a 500-level question incorrectly and still get a 700-level question next, and vice versa.
The GMAT adaptive algorithm is designed to randomize the difficulty levels from question to question, so you will not face a steady rise in difficulty levels. However, if you answer most questions correctly, you will get a greater number of tougher questions as you go.
In short, you decide the difficulty level of your GMAT test. It cannot be tweaked from the other end.
So, Christmas time is as good as the summer time to retake the GMAT
GMAT retake myth 3: Your performance in one GMAT section affects other sections scores
There is a possibility that this idea comes from the assumption that the GMAT must be graded manually. This is the only reason we can think of that would make anybody believe that they can score well in one section because of their good performance in another.
Fact: Sections of the GMAT are discrete and disconnected from each other. The test is assessed by a computer.
There is no question of leaving a good impression on the examiner in the hope of getting good marks on Verbal because you did well on Quant or vice versa. Since this is a computer-adaptive test, your answers are being evaluated by a computer. The four sections of the exam are designed to be entirely disconnected from each other.
If you thought that you could just do well in your Quant section, when you retake the GMAT, and take the Verbal section a little easy, please reconsider your decision.
That brings us to the end of all the GMAT retake myths that we know! If you know of any more myths or have some beliefs about the GMAT that you suspect may be mistaken, let us know in the comments below and we will be happy to cross-check them for you!
We hope this article has helped you make up your mind on whether you want to retake the GMAT or not and to build an effective GMAT retake strategy if you have decided to go for it. In case you have any doubts or questions about this, you can submit your Enhanced Score Report to us and one of our counselors will get in touch with you.
If you want to prepare well for your next GMAT attempt, you can join our Live at Home Mastery Program. By joining this program, you not only get access to 80 hours of live GMAT sessions, but also a structured study plan for you to follow.
P.S. You will receive a lot more perks if you join this course. Check out the LIve at Home Mastery Course by clicking on the image below.