VERY low verbal, OK Quant – Minority ethnicity – Do I need to proof my English proficiency in a retake?

Prepwise AnswersCategory: GMATVERY low verbal, OK Quant – Minority ethnicity – Do I need to proof my English proficiency in a retake?
Greston Wise Staff asked 8 years ago

Ask Kate: If verbal is low, proofing English proficiency may be necessary in a GMAT retake.



Hi Kate,

My question is also about my GMAT score like most people here. I got 700 (Q49,V35), which was surprising to me since I was always better in Verbal than Quant in any other exams I have taken, including my first GMAT (670-cancelled). I got full score on AWA (6) and IR (8), so I’m wondering if I need to ‘fix’ my Verbal score. The problem is I’m very scared of not performing as well on other parts, especially Quant, in the retake.

I want to apply to top 10 schools (HBS, Kellogg, Wharton, Sloan, Johnson), but I’m not sure if this score is good enough. I am a South East Asian female, and a Green card holder, with Engineering (Energy) bachelor degree(from my home country) and professional background(in the US). I’m not sure whether I would be able to take the ‘diversity’ or ‘minority ethnic’ group advantage and stick to this score, or would it actually hurt me since schools might think my English proficiency is lacking. Your advice would be highly highly appreciated!

– FemaleFieldEng

3 Answers
Kate McKeon Staff answered 8 years ago

Hi Mimi!
Good work on the overall score and quant. The 35 is a bit of a concern, but often not a deal breaker IF (!!) you can demonstrate success with English:

1. Coursework from a competitive US school. Could be graduate level or even a summer term in a related field.
2. Published public papers – think academic journals, OpEd pieces, published works.

Short of something that level, improving the GMAT verbal is your shortcut to demonstrating ability to perform at a high level in-the-moment in English.

The two main things to fix: CR and SC. When you fix CR you almost always fix RC so focus on CR first.

If you scored 38 or better on V on the cancelled test, retake soon. You have it in you, you simply underperformed on V on the 700 test day. If you were 36/37, you should put in more work on verbal.

Your new normal – or where you can let the score sit – Q/V 48+/38+

The idea that ethinic minorities can have lower scores is a bit of a myth (as in, there’s something there, but not as much as you might think), and definitely not one an Asia woman could play into.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes,


Greston Wise Staff answered 8 years ago

Hi again Kate,

I hope it’s OK to respond/ask a follow-up question here. My engineering degree was an ‘international program’, and my work experience was all in the US(with an American company), so I thought that would have been enough.

I also am pretty sure I scored higher than 38(V) on my first test, now, my question is would it be okay to just reinstate my first GMAT score just to proof that my Verbal could be better? Or is that to unorthodox and I would have a better chance trying my luck on a retake? I’m just super scared of not scoring as high on Quant the next time…

Another option I’m thinking is taking the Toefl. But some schools don’t even require that from an International student, so I’m not sure if they would actually look at it.

Thank you so much for you help!


Kate McKeon Staff answered 8 years ago

Hi Mimi!
Sure, ask away. If you did score 38+ on that first test, I’d retake. If your 3rd test is a mess you can at least re-instate that first score . . . a trick we only recently got. In ancient times (or more than 3 years ago) reinstating a score, even seeing your score before you accepted at the time of the test – not options.

It sounds like you’d just be so much better off with a boosted GMAT verbal. No doubt you could do well with TOEFL, but it isn’t as important for top Bschools.

Give yourself 3 weeks – no more!! – to prep for your final GMAT take. If it goes well, great. If not, reinstate your first score so you can at least point to it if needed. Good luck!