Updated GMAT Score Cancellation and Reinstatement Policies: What This Means For You

GMAT Cancel ScoresGMAC has updated its score cancelation and reinstatement policies for GMAT test-takers. A full description of these changes is included in GMAC’s recently published blog article, but here are some highlights and guidance on what this means for future GMAT test-takers:

What is Changing?
If you took the GMAT and felt like you needed more time to decide whether or not to cancel your score, then you’ll be happy with GMAC’s new policy. Test-takers now have 5 years to reinstate their scores and 3 days to cancel them. Before this, test-takers had to be much more rushed in making their decisions, with only 60 days to reinstate their scores, and a mere 2 minutes to cancel them.

The cost of these actions is also much more forgiving: it is now only $50 to reinstate your score (compared to the previous $100 fee), however you will have to pay a fee of $25 to cancel your score if you choose to do so after leaving the test center.

What is NOT Changing?
GMAC has kept several of its cancelation and reinstatement policies intact. For example, it is still true that if you choose to cancel your score, no one but you will know about it. There is also still no fee to cancel your score at the test center, and the period you must wait to retake the GMAT is still 16 days.

Why Does This Matter?
Why do we even care about this change in the GMAC’s policies? Well for one, it allows for much more flexibility in the test-taking process, as test-takers

who choose to cancel their scores now have much more time to prepare for their next test administration. (No more scrambling to prepare for a retest in 16 days!) However, it is still important to remember that the GMAT retest policy still applies, in that you cannot take the GMAT more than 5 times in 12 months, so it is important to build a “buffer” into your prep schedule. If you test too close to an MBA application deadline, you won’t have time to retest.

These changes in policy also just go to show us that nothing in life is free (except canceling at the test center). If you want the convenience and luxury of having extra time to make your decisions, you’d better be ready to pay up for it. To minimize this cost, test-takers should have a target GMAT score in mind as well as a plan going into the test, and then actually stick to that plan upon receiving a final score. Think of this like buying an airline ticket – many airlines will let you hold a ticket for free, but it can cost an additional fee to hold it for up to a week. The same idea applies here. Additional time isn’t going to change your score and it shouldn’t impact what score you’re willing to accept, so have a game plan going into test day and stick to it to avoid unnecessary fees.

It is also worth noting that most business schools will still accept a candidate’s highest GMAT score (after all, it is in the school’s best interests to report having students with high average GMAT scores), so if you take the GMAT and score moderately higher than you did the last time you took the test, it may not be necessary to actually cancel your lower score. Talk to the schools to which you’re applying to understand the programs’ policies, but don’t overthink it. Unless there’s a significant gap between your old and new score (+100 points), or you achieved an extremely low score one of the times you took the test (below 500 points), save your money and keep all of your scores.

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By Joanna Graham

Should I Cancel My GMAT Score?

We get this question a lot at Veritas Prep HQ, and it usually comes from an applicant who is just days (or hours) away from taking the GMAT. While you will ideally feel 100% confident walking into the test center after doing enough GMAT preparation, the reality is that you will likely face at least some pangs of doubt unless you’re a master test taker.

So, at some point the question will probably run through your head: “If I finish the GMAT and feel that I did terribly, should I just cancel my score on the spot?” Of course, on test day you will be faced with this question before you see your score (I write “of course,” but many applicants actually don’t realize this!), so your decision about whether or not to cancel will be a blind bet on how well you think you did.

Our advice to applicants is this: Unless you’re certain that you bombed the test and scored well below your intended score, you should NOT cancel your score. Why not? Well, for one, you won’t know how you did if you cancel your score. Many applicants have finished the test and felt certain that they did poorly, only to find out (after deciding to report their scores) that they did even better than their target score! This is entirely possible because of the computer-adaptive nature of the test, and its ability to home in on your true level of ability — getting lots of questions that you couldn’t easily solve may simply mean that test test had taken you to the edge of your ability, and so you were struggling with the questions more than you ever did on practice tests. Even if you got more wrong than usual, you may end up with a good score.

In terms of knowing your score, the score report won’t give you a detailed diagnosis of how you did, but you will be able to see your quantitative and verbal score breakdown, so you will at least know (or confirm, if you already knew) where you need to focus your time and energy when you hit the books again.

Also, if you cancel your score, know that business schools will see this on your official report. This isn’t a horrible “black mark” on your report, but it’s there, and doesn’t necessarily look any better than a low score. So, keeping a possibly low score away from MBA admissions officers won’t keep them completely in the dark — they’ll still know that you took the test and probably didn’t do very well.

If you’re worried about how a low score will look on your record, know that admissions officers are forgiving of low scores, and will generally only look at your highest score. If you don’t believe that, consider this: When submitting data to the major publications for their annual business school rankings, it’s in each school’s best interest to only submit its students’ highest scores (to keep the school’s mean/median GMAT score as high as possible). Even with a low score or two on your report, admissions officers will look at your best one.

So, as much as it may pain you to click “submit” and risk sending a terrible score to your target business schools, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. You’re not gaining much by withholding your score, and you’re missing out on a shot that your score was better than you thought!

For more GMAT prep help, take a look at the resources on veritasprep.com, or call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to a GMAT expert today. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter to get up-to-the minute news and advice about the GMAT!