Ask Kate: Should I retake when GMAT Quant Score is so Volatile?

What Are The Most Effective GMAT Resources?



Hi Kate,

I took the GMAT for a second time and got a 690 (43 – Q, 41 V) , the first time I got a 680 (42. 42). I have a 3.95 GPA in finance and work in management consulting. I’d like to take it again anyways, but am concerned that it will look bad if I don’t improve. My math score is so volatile (39-45), depending on how I do on the first 10 questions or so. I took an online class from Princeton review and studied ~100 hours between the first and second tests. Would love your advice! For reference, I’d like to go to Kellogg.


Well, at least you’re consistent. :)

If you studied for 100 hours – legitimately, not checking email every 20 minutes type study – then I would not recommend a retake unless you have the resources to work with a professional. A very good one. You are not likely to improve much with self study. Scores below 44 in quant indicate serious flaws in problem solving. Not improving despite 100 hours of effort means you’re still making the same mistakes without learning from them.

Your quant score is very low for a top 5-10 program, but not so low that the rest of your application can’t compensate for it.

As a side note, your choice of Princeton Review materials for prep indicates that you are out of touch with the caliber of students who go to bschool. If you’re in management consulting then perhaps you’re at a small firm that doesn’t send many students to bschool each year?

Based on the 39-45 you profess for the Quant score I’m guessing you’re using PR tests too. Those are terrible. Stop using them if you decide to take a 3rd time. Ditch all PR materials. Frankly, PR is the weakest of the major brands. They barely edit their materials. For best results ONLY use GMAC materials from now on. The official guide, the verbal review, the quant review, and question pack 1 will give you all the questions you need. They’re well written and well edited.

Best wishes,


P.S. FOR ALL STUDENTS: kaplan and princeton review have cr*p materials. Don’t give them your money. Stick to materials produced by the GMAC, the makers of the test. On a tight budget? KahnAcademy now has free resources as well. (I don’t love these – too many lessons are unnecessarily complicated, but they are free.)


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