What Score/Quant Percentile Warrants a Retake?

Last Minute Round 2 Retakes (and general retake advice)

Round 2 MBA deadlines are right around the corner so everyone interested in applying is scrambling to pull together the best application possible. The GMAT is the largest single factor. Don’t worry. Everything else (grades, essays, job, recommendations), as a group, matters more. But again, as an individual element nothing tops your test scores. Is it worth trying to max out your GMAT right up to the deadlines? That really depends on a few things:

  1. How is your GMAT comparing to the median scores reported by your desired MBA programs? If you’re not in the ballpark then it may make sense to retake to get closer.
  2. How is your quant score looking? Ignore the quant percentile and forget the 80% rule of thumb that’s way outdated. For top MBA programs you’ll probably want 45+ on the quant side. Not having that does NOT mean automatic retake. A 44 quant with a 740 composite score is incredible. But if you are borderline on the total score and have a quant score that’s in the high 30s/low 40s it may make sense to give it another shot to prove that you will be able to handle the more math oriented parts of the MBA.
  3. How much time and energy do you have? If you’re going to approach the GMAT again then let’s make sure you’ve got some gas in the tank. Sure, you can just throw out a hail Mary with little studying. That could be fine especially if you’ve been underperforming on test day and just need another try. But if there is some weakness in your GMAT then go ahead and really put some effort in to improve. Now, time is limited so keep the focus somewhat narrow. Don’t relearn everything. Better to strengthen general problem solving skills and fundamental quant than to drill down on esoteric content. Here’s a post on timing and difficulty level that goes into why it may not be worth spending much time working on the toughest of the tough GMAT puzzles. The basic idea is that most of your GMAT will be in the medium level. Speaking of GMAT timing, improving your GMAT timing strategy could be a very easy way to boost your score. So if you are looking for some background on GMAT timing and some suggestions for getting a strategy together then set aside 20-30 minutes and give our timing strategy guide a careful read.

Last thing I’d say for now, try not to go crazy at the last minute. In general, avoid signing up for some new test prep. Don’t gobble up dozens of hours of tutoring. You can make changes and you can improve by quite a bit. But considering the timeline and that you likely have a pretty full plate already it’s much better to stay practical with your preparation. Improve your fundamentals. Pull together an easy to follow timing strategy. Practice on official GMAT materials timed and in test conditions. Take plenty of practice tests (timed and in test conditions). And remember, review is key. You should be spending at least as much time on review as you do on solving questions.

OK – hope that helps. Good luck and happy studies. Comment with any questions!