One of the most common questions I receive is whether to retake GMAT. If your score is well below the average for the school you are applying, you probably have no choice.
For example, if you are applying to LBS with a 580, don’t expect to get in. I did this last year with a client. He had an amazing medical CV but was unable to create enough time to study GMAT. We sent in the application and included a note about re-taking GMAT. Straight rejection. The clear take-away is he should have retaken the test.
At the same time I worked with a client on another LBS application. She held a 640 and insisted on re-taking GMAT. I advised not to. She also faced time constraints and was in a later round. Instead we concentrated on telling a strong story and crafting a powerful career vision. She was admitted and the topic of GMAT never came up. AND- she applied and received a major scholarship of about £30k. This was a case where a re-take was not needed. The score was at the lower threshold of the spectrum, but the other qualities of the applicant compensated.
Our first acceptance to the Stanford MSx program occurred last summer, also with a 640. Again, the candidate insisted on re-taking the test. The MSx is a mid-career program, so test results are not the only factor. Career impact is probably more important. Rather than lose valuable time we improved the essay content and mapped the candidate’s USP closely to the program. This was another case when a re-take was not necessary.
I wrote on this topic because in my courses I have people with 700+ scores who attend. I do not discourage this, but is it necessary? Would they be better off crafting powerful essays?
The bottom line:
Less than 600, re-take.
Mid-600s: You are statistically below the threshold for a top school, but maybe you have a strong case for admission anyway?
high 600s/700s. If your CV is good and you have an adequate first degree, think twice about re-taking. There are certainly times when a higher score is worth pursing (i.e. scholarships, low grades in first degree)
BUT- don’t assume a high GMAT is an automatic acceptance- rejections with a 750 are not unknown.
If you are not sure where you stand let me know. I have many more success cases!