For most tests, the more times you take the exam, the better your score gets, and this often is the case with the GMAT. But, there are several things that will limit the number of times that you can take the GMAT in a given amount of time. These factors should help you determine whether you should sit for the GMAT again or use the scores that you already have.
Limits Within 12 Months
The good news is that, per GMAC, you can take up to five GMAT exams within a rolling 12-month period of time. This allows for multiple retests throughout the year, if you feel you need them. Some people retake the test to improve their scores, and other people test repeatedly to make up for canceled scores.
Time Required Before Retesting
If you want to retest as soon as possible, perhaps because you canceled your score, you must wait 16 days. This is a shorter time limit than the 31 days that the older paper and pencil GMAT required before retesting. This is the best option if you have a limited time to submit your scores and you want to show your school of choice a great score on your score report.
Business School Limitations on Repeat GMAT Testing
Whenever you send your GMAT scores to business schools, all scores from the past five years are included on the report, so if you took the GMAT more than 5 years ago, business schools will not see those scores. Additionally, business schools will not see how many scores you canceled because these will not appear on the report at all, but you do need to consider how many scores from the last five years that will appear on your report.
You can choose up to five schools to send your scores to without added cost, but if you select a school, you cannot revoke your decision after you send the scores. Consider carefully which schools to send your reports to because they all evaluate scores differently to determine what a good score to get into their school is. Usually, only the last three scores are looked at on the exam, so taking it more times than that can often be a waste of time and money.
There really are two instances when retaking the GMAT can help: to improve your score enough to get to the median GMAT score for that school or to counter poor undergraduate grades. For instance, if you want to get into a top business school, in most cases, you will need at least a 700 on your GMAT, but if you tested twice and your best score was 670, go ahead and take it again if you feel certain that you can improve enough to get over the required threshold. Some people wait years after undergraduate school before applying to business school. In those cases, your undergraduate grades may not be reflective of your current skills. If you got poor math grades in college but can show a high quantitative score on your GMAT, that can help business school to recognize your current math abilities.
Whether you retake the GMAT is a personal decision, but realize that there is a time and money investment involved each time you take the exam. A better way to improve your scores without spending so much money is to invest in a preparation course, like Testmasters, that gives you multiple practice exams and strategies. Doing so will help you to get your best score possible on your first attempt at the real exam, which can save you time, money, and stress.