Should I Retake the GMAT?

3 minute read

Now that is a difficult question.

The Technicalities

Here is the official GMAT retake policy, which is applicable even if your score is canceled by you.

  • You may retake the GMAT once every 31 calendar days
  • You may take it a maximum of 5 times in 12 months
  • The full fee ($250) is required each time
  • All GMAT scores will be on your score report from the last 5 years and therefore reported to all of the programs you apply to within that time period.

The Weigh-Up: Time and Money and Preparation vs. The Gains for You.

Approximately 18% of all GMAT takers retake at least a second time. The reality – according to a 2005 study published by Rudner (Head of Research at GMAC) – is that repeat test takers are usually only able to obtain modest gains (an average of 31 scaled points or 8% percentile improvement).

It should also be noted that almost 25 percent of repeat test takers obtained lower second-time scores.

However, a small portion (10%) did increase their score by 100 points in this study (based on 463,630 unique test-takers results).

In Rudner’s study, the largest gains for repeat takers were seen by younger test takers, non-native English speakers, those who didn’t finish the Quantitative section, those with below-average first time scores and those with Undergraduate GPA scores higher than their GMAT scores. Approximately 25 percent of the repeaters did not finish either the Quantitative or Verbal sections the first time, and their gains on retesting were higher. It is very evident that not finishing sections of the GMAT is one of the biggest blows to your score.

If there is a glaring reason why your score was lower than you were expecting – for example you did not finish the Verbal or Quantitative section, you had a traumatizing experience before taking the test, you were in ill health or hadn’t slept well – then it would surely be worth your while retaking.

One way to decide whether or not to retake is to compare your first GMAT scores with your Undergraduate GPA to see if they are in alignment. Also, if your score is very low it is more likely that you will improve significantly on your second attempt, whereas an above average – to relatively high score may not result in a huge improvement upon retaking.

Viewing Your Retake Positively

The good news is that your previous test attempt is the single best form of GMAT preparation you could wish for. You have obtained experience with the look, feel, content and the actual conditions of the test. On top of this, your score card serves as a diagnostic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses in these conditions, which proves more accurate than any practice test done at home. This self assessment of strengths and weaknesses is the crucial key to your retake preparation strategy.

Study your score report to see the areas that need improvement under actual test conditions and you have an excellent starting point for your GMAT retake preparation plan of attack.


When considering retaking the GMAT, it is important to consider your individual situation. This is a decision unique to your position, and there is no universal answer to whether you should or should not. If there is no obvious reason for your low score, retaking may not be worth your time. Overall retaking gains are modest (an average increase of 30 points) which, when considering the cost, time and energy spent on the retake preparations may not be worthwhile. Additionally, having two or more scores on your report card with an insignificant increase may affect your application negatively as admissions will see all of the scores on your report card and may not view this favorably.

However, there are situations where retaking might be worthwhile. Here is what I suggest you ask yourself;

  • Were you unable to finish some sections of the test?
  • Was your GMAT score wildly different to your Undergraduate GPA score?
  • Did something happen before the test which dramatically affected your mindset/ ability to focus on the test?
  • Was your GMAT score below average?
  • Is English not your native language?

If you have weighed up the options and believe that retaking the GMAT is a worthwhile move, consider your preparations carefully. You can find out how I suggest using “30 Day GMAT Success” might be of benefit to your retaking study strategy here: “How to Prepare Efficiently for your GMAT Retake using 30 Day GMAT Success.”