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Should I Retake My GRE or GMAT?

First thing’s first. GMAT/GRE scores are not viewed in the same way by admissions committees as they are by you–the applicant. To an applicant, a 620 is a good score, a 630 is a better score and a 610 is an inferior score. To the adcoms, all three are essentially the same.

The GMAT/GRE accounts for about 1/3 of your admissions decision. Therefore, on a 100-point scale, roughly 30 of those points are awarded based on your GMAT/GRE score. How do you earn those 30 points? Well, It depends on what score range you fall in.

Take for instance a 620. This applicant would earn 20 of the 30 available points for their GMAT score. (Aside: It’s worth noting here that anyone within the 600-640 range would earn those 20 points. Get the picture? Retaking the GMAT to try and turn a 610 into a 640 is a fruitless endeavor in the eyes of the adcom, social bragging rights notwithstanding.)

Here’s a surefire quiz you can take to determine whether or not your last effort was indeed your best effort, or if you ought to hit the batting cages again for one last crack at the plate.

Should I Retake My GMAT/GRE? Quiz:

  1. Did anything go wrong on the test the first time? Examples include not getting enough sleep, taking the test hung over (you’d be surprised), misjudging the time remaining, feeling under the weather, arriving late to the test site, or any other external factor that impacted your performance in some consequential way. Be honest with yourself here.
  2. Did you feel at all unprepared? Did you take a professional test prep course or get one-on-one tutoring that you felt adequately prepared you? Did you study at least 80 total hours?
  3. Were there any major life events that occurred during your prep months?
  4. Do you believe, in your heart of hearts, given the nature of the test, that your low score was one of the those fluke days where everything went wrong?
  5. Did the questions on the test feel easy?
  6. Did you get a 690 and just want to join the elite 700 club? Or 590 and 600? Are you trying to hit a threshold number just because you believe that is the magic number for your target school? This is NOT a good reason.

If you answered yes to any of the first five questions, then you, my friend, have a good reason to retake the test. Quick note about No. 5: If the test felt easy and your score sucked, then there is a good chance you were just rushing through the exam; with a little work on pacing, you can drastically increase your score.

Next week, we will review how all the other factors–GPA, LOR, resume, application essays–are evaluated using the same point system we described in the table above.

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