Evaluating the value of back to back GMATs and how to make it happen
In the past couple of years the historically slow moving and almost never changing GMAT has undergone a major revision: GMAT Online.
And the online version of the test has also iterated quite a bit from a lonely single attempt with the vilified online white board that was essentially a freebie attempt in that it didn’t count towards yearly or lifetime limits to now a full five attempts that do contribute to the limits.
One of the most interesting/helpful developments is what we at Atlantic call the “mix and match” strategy. You can take an online test and then an in person test (or vice versa) with zero wait time. Here is the blurb from GMAC:
You might not want to do that in all cases but it is a great option to have if you were 100% ready for the GMAT but had a terrible day and don’t want to sulk for the regular 16 day cooling offer period between tests.
Advantages and Disadvantages of back to back tests
-If you were ready to go but just had a bad day you can still strike while the iron is hot.
-You can use the first attempt as a kind of no-pressure dry run.
-If you have immovable deadlines, regardless of how ready you are, you have two chances to snatch the best score possible. Sometimes we really do see people on their last attempt on the eve of deadlines making it happen.
-In order to avoid the waiting period you will need to combine and in person and an online test. So if you hate the idea of being in person or fear online then this may not be a great option.
-If you are deluding yourself about how ready you are then you may rapidly burn another attempt that you may need down the stretch when you are actually prepared.
Sometimes it is tough to self-assess so take a moment to consider whether it my be worth putting in a few more weeks before getting back in the hot seat.
You only have 5 GMAT attempts per year and 8 lifetime. That amount may seem endless but those attempts can evaporate quicker than you think.
Only do a rapid retake if you need to or are 100% ready to rock
Once again, avoid a no wait GMAT just to heal some wounded pride. It can be tough to swallow a stinky score. It can be rough to admit that you simply weren’t ready. It happens. You are certainly not alone in jumping the gun on a first (or second or third) GMAT attempt.
So let’s only do this if you:
A. Need to because of deadlines
B. Are truly ready and just need to keep retaking until you have a decent day
How do you know if you’re ready?
The easiest way to tell: Your fresh official practice tests are consistently at or above your goal
What if you don’t have any fresh official practice tests?
Then it is a bit more challenging to judge your level. On the quant side you could use GMAT Focus. It has the official scoring algorithm. It doesn’t narrow to a single number but a range so a little less helpful than a full blown practice test but it can still provide some insight.
On verbal you may have to judge based on HW set hit rate and comfort in review. Be brutally honest with yourself about what you’re understanding and what remains murky.
If you are feeling murky on a bunch of things then it may not be time for a rapid retake
An expert opinion can really help with judging performance and helping you plan your attempts. If you are a bit stuck, have already come up short on an official test, and don’t have a great game plan for moving forward I would highly recommend at least reaching out to a few tutors to see what they would propose given your situation.
It is so much better to deal with any issues earlier, when you still have energy and time than later when you are totally drained and up against a wall of deadlines.
Suggestions for a no wait GMAT
OK, so with that out of the way. We’ve determined that the quick retake makes sense for you.
What’s a good way to structure this? Should you take online or in person first? How much space in between?
Generally, the in person GMAT is MUCH harder to schedule. So I would recommend getting that in place and then planning the online as the retake.
Should you truly do back to back?
You can, but I think a day or two in between isn’t a bad thing, especially if you can take a day off from work and get some rest.
If in your practice you’ve done back to back tests on consecutive days and that really works for you then that is fine too.
It’s great having the immediate retake option but apply it carefully. It is a powerful option with plenty of upside but not appropriate in many cases.
Feel free to follow with any questions on rapid retakes and we’ll try to assist. Happy studies!