Ask Kate: Is GMAT Retake Necessary, if not Targeting Top 5?

You Should Always Aim For Top 10 MBA Program.


Hi Kate,

I recently scored a 700 on the GMAT with a lower quant score than in many of my practice tests, but much higher verbal (Q42 V44). I also did much better on the integrated reasoning than any of my practice with a score of 8. Awa of 5.5. I had been studying for about three months before I took the exam.

Given that I am pleased with three out of the four sections, and am targeting top 30 business schools (not top 5) is a retake necessary to boost the quant score? For reference- I was a business major at Wake Forest graduating magna cum laude. Additionally, I have worked in corporate banking for 3 years.

Thanks for your help.


Thanks for the response. I should have clarified that I am targeting specific schools in the Washington, D.C. area – and my number one program is Georgetown McDonough. My goal is to break into commercial real estate, and also stay in D.C. Given that real estate is very much a “who you know” business and having a well-connected alumni base is critical – I thought that one of my best options would be to get an MBA at a school in this area with a strong real estate program. In my preliminary research on Gtown, including the recent launch of its real estate center, it seems to be the right choice.

To go back to the GMAT- I suppose I could have posted this question on the school’s blog. Still wanted your input as an additional resource as I decide whether or not to continue studying based on the low quant score, at the risk of not doing as well again in verbal.

Thanks again.

Top 5Hi Hannah,
Here’s the scoop, no one cares that you did well on the AWA or IR. They really only might-possibly care about those 2 sections if you totally flame out. Good work, you covered your bases.

RE: top 30 versus top 5, okay, but why? I know that wasn’t what you asked about, but why are you even going to bschool? A. Can one of those programs specifically help you or B. do you want the general knowledge? Or you just need the designation to get a promotion down the line?

If A. ok, go for it and your 700 should suffice, but consider a retake in 30 days anyway (since it sounds like this was the first prepped test). Keep sharp on verbal, get some help on quant. A 42 points to foundational challenges.

If B. Get a few good books on marketing, operations, finance. Save yourself 2 years and 200k.

If C. It is what it is. Corporate banking and Industry still like middle and upper management to have MBAs. Consider a part time or EMBA that gives the same MBA degree (some give a different degree once completed, ask!). Bonus, get the bank to pay for it. Follow case A.

If not A.,B., C., please, please consider revisiting the motivation for going. It’s an expensive 2 year vacation. And many programs will not yield the return you hope for.

The MBA is a great degree and overall pays off, but it pays off better when you get a specific strategic advantage from the school or school’s network. Be clever with your choice and good luck!


Ok good! You have a plan. You’re right about real estate. It is a super small industry at the top so you can look a little more broadly than Gtown because there are so few (relatively speaking) schools that pump out great grads. UNC Chapel Hill is one I can recommend. Strong presence in the DC area as well. If you haven’t already investigated the backgrounds of the people you hope will hire you, please do. Target the schools they went to – for sure. It is a chummy club and you need the profs who taught these (almost always) guys to recommend you to these guys.

1. Still retake. Stay sharp on verbal by treating it seriously. You have the chops already, don’t fret. A female – based on your name I’m assuming such – in RE is not as common so there are departmental funds to woo strong female candidates. Get your GMAT score up. STRONGLY recommend.
2. I hear you on stay in DC, but there are some very strong programs (in terms of placement) not too far from DC that may give you a better leg up than the hoyas.
3. Wharton is a strong program that may seem like a stretch but may actually set you up far better than you expect. Please consider it.

P.S. I used to be in Real Estate – primarily commercial construction, but also mixed use development and large scale residential.


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