Perhaps the most often-asked question during the entire MBA application process is,“Should I retake the GMAT?” The answer to this question will differ from case to case depending on an applicant’s score, their target schools, and their overall profile. If you are considering retaking the GMAT, doing a short cost-benefit analysis, similar to a business endeavor, can aid your decision-making:
1) Recognize the Investments Needed
Apart from the test-taking fee that you will incur for a retake, think about the hours you will need to put in to re-prepare for the GMAT, and whether this will affect the timeliness of your MBA applications. Make sure you consider whether or not you have the availability and the energy to put into this endeavor.
Often ignored, but just as important, factor in the opportunity cost of the hours you will need to spend preparing for your retake. Could you spend those efforts somewhere else to strengthen your profile? Maybe you could get involved in productive activities at work, volunteer in the community, or polish your essays.
If your application is already strong in these areas, then a GMAT retake could be a better use of your time. As such, engaging a test prep service may be the right way to go – taking a GMAT prep course or spending time with a private tutor will optimize the hours that you put into studying, and will be an investment that pays for itself in the long run.
2) Evaluate the Probability of Success
The next step would be to evaluate how likely you are to achieve your desired results. The most straightforward consideration (that requires a truly honest self-assessment) is how you have already performed on the GMAT relative to your potential:
- Did you prepare well enough?
- Did you get enough sleep the nights leading up to your exam?
- Were the test day conditions conducive?
If you believe there’s a reasonable chance that you could have done better than you did, you should seriously think about a retake.
3) Weigh the Potential Benefits
Researching the class profile of your target program, and how you compare to the school’s average GMAT score, should give you an indication as to where you stand. The standardized nature of the GMAT allows for the most straightforward and objective comparison between applicants, so ideally, you will want to score higher on the GMAT than the school’s average.
All things equal, a higher score should improve your chance of admission, and even your opportunities for scholarships. Thus, the expected value of increasing your GMAT score could be high and really worth investing in.
Knowing that you didn’t leave too many potential GMAT points on the table can also simply help you be at peace. This is an important benefit, as it will allow you to focus on the next steps in the application process, and know that you have given the GMAT your best shot.
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Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.