Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 2pm

Fools Rush in: Reasons to Wait Before Retaking the GMAT

Don't rush back to retake the GMAT before you're not ready

GMAC’s decision to shorten the waiting period between official GMAT appointments from 31 days to 16 days last year has been largely seen as a great benefit. Instead of having to wait a full month before retaking the GMAT, you can do so in just a little over two weeks. The shorter timeframe can be beneficial in certain situations, especially if you’re on a short application deadline. As expected, many test takers have taken advantage of the shorter waiting period and taken the GMAT multiple times – even going so far as to rush back in and retest without sufficient training to improve their scores. In that way, rushing in and retaking the GMAT was not a good idea.

To begin with, a certain percentage of GMATers take the GMAT before they’ve actually hit their target score on a practice computer-adaptive test (CAT). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard from people who have defined their target score as 700+, but who went in to take the GMAT without ever even getting close to that level during practice.

If your GMAT score is 50 (or more) points away from your goal, then retaking the GMAT 16 days later will likely lead to a similarly disappointing score. It often takes considerable time and effort to significantly improve one’s GMAT score. If you haven’t been able to define what you need to fix after studying for several months, then you’re not likely to be able to define (and fix) your issues in just two weeks. Thankfully, there are ways to improve, but these take more time than that to implement properly. 

Before retaking the GMAT, ensure your practice GMAT score is reliable

Another large contingent of test takers end up scoring significantly lower on test day than they scored on their practice tests. While there are a number of different factors that can hurt a GMATer’s performance on test day (lack of sleep, nervousness, etc.), more often, the actual issues involve certain unrealistic aspects of how they took their practice tests. The process of defining those unrealistic details is relatively easy, but the process of fixing those issues cannot be crammed into a two-week timeframe. 

Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable exam, so you can train to score at a high level. A big part of that training process is to make sure that you train for every aspect of test day (from when you go to bed the night before all the way through to when you answer the 41st verbal question).

Going back decades, the 700+ GMAT score has consistently represented approximately the 90th percentile. The reason why a larger percentage of students haven’t hit that GMAT score range in any given year is that GMATers (as a group) continue to make the same general mistakes during their studies. Unfortunately, shortening the time between attempts at the official GMAT does not change that. If your goal is to score at a much higher level from one GMAT to the next, then retaking the GMAT so soon is almost certainly not a good idea.

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