Are retakes a strike against you?
You know what looks great on your MBA application?
A fantastic GMAT score.
And, preferably one that is at or above the median of the school to which you are applying.
How you get to that score doesn’t really matter.
Well, I guess it does in some ways. Obviously don’t cheat. Be healthy. Treat yourself (and others) kindly.
But it is fine to have your own path to GMAT greatness.
It might take you little longer.
It might take you multiple GMAT attempts.
Take the GMAT as many times as you need to achieve your goals. No more. No less.
One, two, five (the current yearly limit), or eight GMATs (the current lifetime limit)…
Heck, I’ve taken 9 GMATs which, even for a GMAT tutor is probably considered a lot.
And, I didn’t hit the 99th percentile until I my third GMAT (720, 740, 770).
Does that make me a less qualified GMAT tutor? I don’t think so.
And multiple GMAT attempts don’t make you a less qualified MBA candidate.
Business schools know that.
What score should I cancel?
GMAT tutoring students ask this question somewhat often.
Makes sense because there is a lot of anxiety related to retaking the GMAT and how multiple GMAT attempts, especially if far below the median of your target score, will be judged.
But I always tell clients: it doesn’t really matter whether you cancel or keep a score.
A score report with a 620 and a 700 is the same as one with just a 700.
A score report with a 510, 590, 660, 640, and a 720 is just as a good as one that just has a 720.
It is your best score that matters.
If anything the multiple scores show perseverance.
This tutoring student took the test 5 times ranging from the low 500s to a 720 and was admitted to Stanford and we have many other similar examples.
Still, if requested, we come up with a threshold for keeping a score.
I wouldn’t automatically cancel anything below your target but anything that you would never consider applying with you can safely cancel.
But you don’t have to.
A score report that just has one score doesn’t mean that it was a one and done
Because you can cancel scores and those cancellations don’t show up on your official score report, having a “clean” report with only one incredible GMAT score doesn’t mean that much (except that you got an incredible score).
Because, again, there could have been a whole bunch of cancelled attempts that won’t be on the score report.
Regardless, there isn’t and has never been a bonus for succeeding on the first try (except that you are probably done with the GMAT quicker).
Take as many GMATs as you need
Most people need multiple to max out their GMAT scores.
Your best is what matters.
Don’t worry about the duds.
Cancel anything way below your target or anything that you would never consider applying with.
But, you don’t have to.
Hope that helps take away some of the anxiety around retakes and score cancellation.
Again, if I haven’t already hit you over the head too many times with this: multiple attempts are nothing to worry about.
Comment with any questions and good luck on your GMAT!
Multiple GMAT Scores FAQ
Can schools see cancelled GMAT scores?
No. Business schools can’t see cancelled GMAT scores. There is no indication on your official score report that you cancelled any of your GMAT attempts.
Here is more cancellation information straight from GMAC:
Do business schools see all GMAT scores?
Business schools can see all GMAT scores that are on your official score report. They do not see any scores that have been cancelled and they cannot see that you cancelled any of your GMAT scores.
Should I cancel my GMAT score?
If there is zero chance that you will use it to apply to business school then feel free to cancel it. But you don’t have to. Also, just because a score is below your goal doesn’t mean you should cancel. You never know when a score will be useful. Maybe you simply run out of time or energy and won’t have another GMAT attempt but still want to apply to school.
Also, having a decent score in the bank can give you a bit of confidence for future attempts.