Ask Kate: When to Retake the GMAT

If You’re Aiming For The Top 15 MBA Programs, You May Need To Take The GMAT More Than Once.



Hi Kate,

I just sat for the GMAT and walked away with my unofficial score of 710: 43Q (56%) and 44V (98%) and 8 IR (92%). I’m confident I got at least a 4.5 on the essay also. The Verbal and IR scores are right in line with how I’ve scored on 3 different practice tests, but the Quant score was a few points below my normal range, and I am pretty concerned by that 56 percentile rank. I was able to study seriously for about a month and half (towards the end I used the Economist online program, but was not able to get through more than half of it) before I sat for the test.

I knew going in that Quant was my kryptonite, and I know that Quant is really the more important score for adcoms for candidates with non Quant-y experience, but is there any way around re-taking? I have a very busy work and travel schedule for the next 3 months and I wanted to be able to focus on my applications this summer.

I am not shooting for the tops of the tops, rather I’m hoping for B schools ranked in the 5-15 ranks mostly (Northwestern, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Yale, Michigan, UT Austin).

Background: I graduated from a top 15 Liberal Arts college in the NE with a 3.55 GPA in History and Arabic. I took some intro econ classes, but was more focused on politics and international relations in my elective work at the time. My years after graduation were spent living in the Middle East studying Arabic and then working for a small foreign energy services company in marketing and business development for whom I still work for but in the US. I have some good essay fodder there about being able to learn highly technical subjects, quadruple the company’s revenues in the US and build networks with high-level international oil company managers blah blah blah, not to mention stories from living in the Middle East during revolutions and relating that to personal growth and becoming intimately aware of how other parts of the world work (not trying to sound cynical, just concise).

So should I dig down into some more Quant studying and plan to retake the GMAT? Or could I take some CC or online econ and stats classes to make up for it?


Retake (1)Hi David, Good news, mediocre news (it isn’t bad, but)…

The 710 is okay with those programs. Your balance with score – not totally dominant in verbal with horrible quant, comparable quant and verbal – will make a retake not absolutely necessary. However, you’ll get dinged if you’ve only taken once. A little bit. The rest of your profile sounds kick ass so you may be able to make up for it, but to give some perspective, I saw (not my student) a candidate get invited to 5 interviews: 690, strong military background, great undergrad performance and school, yet admitted to none. There are a variety of reasons that can happen, but given that you have some time, if you’ve only taken once, please consider a retake just to put a second on the board. It’s less about the actual score and more about demonstrating that you know the 43Q is not great.

I would NOT use the extra essay to explain that you were too busy to retake. That would be a bad idea. Retake or just let it ride.

Good luck!


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