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How To Score MBA Admission By Retaking The GMAT

Should you retake the GMAT to improve your score? Admissions expert Varsity Tutors has a guide to help you interpret your test score.


Tue Feb 10 2015

You have finally completed the GMAT and your scores lie before you. With so many important numbers on one page, how do you decide where to begin?

Review Total, Verbal, Quantitative Scores

Begin by reviewing these three measures. Your total GMAT score falls on a scale from 200 to 800, and the current mean result is 547. Quantitative scores range from 6 to 51 (scores below 6 and above 51 are rare), with an average mark of 40. Your Verbal score utilizes the same range. The current mean is 27. 

What does this mean for you? The average scores for all test-takers will not necessarily match the mean scores at your prospective schools. 

One strategy is to find the 80th percentile for those MBA programs that interest you. If your total GMAT score falls in or above that percentile, your chances of acceptance are likely to be higher.

However, if your total GMAT score falls below that range and you believe you can improve the result, you should think about retaking the exam. Speak with the admissions counsellors at your business schools about how score will factor into their decision.

Assess Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) scores

Your AWA response is scored from zero to six, and the current mean result is 4.34. Integrated Reasoning is a relatively new GMAT section and as such, it has the least historical data to analyse. Your Integrated Reasoning score can range from one to eight and the current mean score is 4.33.

These portions of the GMAT tend to speak more to specific skill sets than the Total, Verbal and Quantitative sections do.

For example: if you are a seasoned journalist, with numerous published works to your name, an admissions committee may not look at the AWA as the best example of your writing abilities, but they may closely examine your Integrated Reasoning results.

Conversely, if you are an accomplished mechanical engineer from outside of the United States whose last written work was a college paper, your AWA may be more carefully assessed. Either way, speak with your business schools.  

Determine What You Can Improve 

Should you retake the GMAT? The answer depends on your situation. How many times have you completed the exam thus far? Can you commit to studying and sitting for the test again?

If you feel that your performance did not represent your true abilities and that you could improve your scores with practice, then yes – consider taking the GMAT again.

However, if you do not feel that your results would be significantly stronger, you can instead strengthen other areas of your MBA application in order to present the best possible package to admissions committees.

The GMAT is important, but it is only one portion of your application. Your work experience, personal statement, letters of recommendations, GPA and the quality of your interviews all play roles too. Successful MBA students bring complete packages to their programs.

Mahlena-Rae Johnson is a professional GMAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She received her MBA from University of Southern California in 2010 and scored a 740 on the GMAT.