Posted by Eric Allen in MBA
Our last post focused on situations where you should consider retaking the GMAT to improve your chance of admission to your dream school. In this blog, I will give you some reasons why you should NOT retake the GMAT.
You were likely in diapers when the late First Lady Barbara Bush’s “Say No” to drugs campaign was released. Well, it's back - and this time is for the GMAT.
Sometimes, knowing when to say NO in life can be just as important as when to say yes.
Let's be real. Tests like the GMAT take a significant amount of your time, money and energy. Which means you will have less time, money and energy to spend on other important areas to boost your MBA application.
So let's jump right into it. Just say no to re-taking the GMAT if the following criteria rings true to your scenario.
1. Your score is good enough
So, the million dollar question is, what score is good enough? How do you know when to stop?
The general rule of thumb on test scores I give to applicants is that you want to be at or above your median score. Notice I said “your median” to point out that it’s relative to your situation.
This is a good time to take a close look at your application, professional background and academic records, among others. This is to determine where you stand in the general applicant pool and decide whether retaking the GMAT might significantly boost your chance of admission.
I want to specifically address the demographic since it's not something applicants usually think about or might be reluctant to bring up. However, it might be an inevitable topic especially if you are in a competitive demographic (take a look at #2 in our last post on the GMAT). If you are, you would ideally like to be above your median.
But remember, the GMAT can’t get you into a school on it’s own. A 700 and a strong application is likely going to get the nod over a 760 and an average application.
When it comes to applications: Look at the forest, not the trees.
So, go ahead and do some research and get a general, fact-driven idea of where you stand in the specific applicant pool that you're in. Then ask yourself the question again: Is my score good enough? If you answer yes to this question, don’t retake it. Allot that time and energy on the rest of your application.
Many applicants struggle with this. Assessing where you are in the admissions field and making decisions based on your judgment can be a difficult process. If you’re not sure if your score is good enough, don't be afraid to use outside help. Create a candidate profile on Admit.me and receive free evaluation from our experts.
Trust me, we've gone through this ourselves - and we're here to help.
2. You've had an inconsistent scores
If you’ve taken the test a few times and had significant inconsistencies in your score, you may just have to say no to a retake. As I addressed in the last post on when to retake the GMAT, the decision to retake the GMAT is really about the return on your investment strategy.
If your potential return has significant potential volatility in outcomes, you don’t want to risk it if your score is good enough (more b-school vocab there).
Schools will be able to see trends, so if you peaked at 680 and also scored a 650 and 630, schools are going to wonder if that 680 was a “real” score. It’s much better to quit while you’re ahead.
3. You’re a great practice player…but not on game day
My college roommate, Rocky, was on the football team with me at Brown and used to be the star in the weight room or the practice field. But on the actual game days, he tended to do the opposite and even frequented no-shows.
Some people just can’t get over the mental hurdle of test day and don’t perform up to their potential. If that’s you, don’t sweat it - more people fall into this category than you think! However, if that’s the case, this might not be the best time to try to overcome a personal hurdle. At some point during the application process, you will have to acknowledge it and move on.
If you’ve ever played golf, you know that sometimes you just have to drop in front of the lake rather than continuing to hit the ball in the water.
Give the GMAT at least three shots and if you don’t get any better, move on to the rest of your application. Time to Let. It. Go.
4. Time is not on your side
Although it may sound obvious, this is a very common situation that I’ve seen over the years with applicants. Often times, applicants procrastinate through the summer, decide to take the test in the late summer/fall and don’t score as well as they want to. They continue to take it, but just can’t get the target score they want.
If this is you AND your score is close to the median, you need to stop and re-focus on your application. You could be spending time nurturing recommenders, enhancing your brand, writing your essays, demonstrating leadership in the community or lots of other things that will position you favorably with the admissions committee.
Don’t let the GMAT take up a disproportionate amount of your time, especially when deadlines are on the horizon.
5. Your school allows post-submission updates
That means you've earned yourself some leeway. One strategy to retake the test after you submit your application. If you do better, you can give the school an update that they will put in your file. If you don’t – no harm, no foul. I like this strategy, especially for candidates who aren’t confident they will do better by retaking the test.
Be sure to check up on your school’s policy on this - some schools may not accept post-submission updates.
As I explained, when it comes to test scores, shoot for at or above the median of your target schools. That being said, you need to take into account your demographic and the rest of your application to determine whether your score is good enough for your application.
Remember that every situation is different. These are general guidelines and tips for you to make your own assessment. If you want more personalized advice from experts, create a free profile on www.admit.me. Learn more here.
October 26, 2017, Eric Allen