Score Cancellations Now Allowed On GMAT

GMAT test

In an apparent effort to counter one of the key advantages of taking the GRE in place of the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admission Council plans to allow test takers to cancel test scores and prevent business schools from seeing the results.

GMAT said the change, effective July 19th, will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores which will be removed from future score reports sent to schools. Reports with cancelled scores already sent to schools can obviously not be modified.

The new policy, one of three new changes by GMAT, is being put into place as the GRE is gaining greater acceptance by MBA applicants. Most top business schools now accept the Graduate Record Exam, and admission officials at the schools have made clear they have no preference over one test or the other. Schools typically accept the highest scores an applicant achieves on either test so it’s unclear what if any difference the policy change will have on a candidate’s application. In fact, it’s possible that score cancellations can tilt against an applicant because many admission officers admire candidates who have the discipline and stamina to retake the test and improve their scores.


The Educational Testing Service (ETS), owner of the GRE, has allowed test takers to cancel their scores so business schools won’t see earlier and presumably weaker scores in MBA applications. GRE has permitted test takers to opt out of sending their scores to schools after the exam is completed on test day when the scores are revealed at the test center.

“There’s no question that GMAC is seeking to make the GMAT more test-taker friendly in a landscape where the GRE has gained increased acceptance as an admissions option among business schools,” says Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep. “The GRE handles this through their ScoreSelect option which allows students to only send the scores from whichever test dates they want the school to see.”

Carlidge had a positive spin on the new GMAC changes, though he notes that some high-scoring test takers may dislike the new policy. “From most students’ perspective, this is a welcome change,” he says. “It’s not exactly a freebie, since it still costs $250 to take the GMAT, but if you don’t think the initial score you receive immediately after finishing the exam is good enough to get into your target schools, it lets you avoid any possible admissions penalty since schools won’t even know you took the exam.  On the flip side, some high scoring students may not like this change because taking the exam once and scoring high, with no cancellations on their score records, can be a potential admissions differentiator.  It will be interesting to see how MBA programs themselves feel about this, as this is something many probably like to know about their applicants.”


GMAC also said that test takers will now have the option to retake the GMAT exam after a 16-day time period (versus the current 31-day retake period), a change that will likely lead a greater number of candidates to retake the $250 exam. ETS allows GRE test takers to sit for the test exam once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period, depending on test center availability.

In June, ETS said a new analysis found that most people who took the GRE a second time did better, with score improvements largely noted on the verbal reasoning measure and on the quantitative reasoning measure. “Many of the changes that we have introduced have been designed to bolster students’ confidence so that more people will take that step toward graduate or business school,” said David Payne, ETS Vice President & COO, Global Education. “That means that individuals can approach test day with a backup plan. If they feel they did their best right away, that’s terrific, but about 20 percent of people in 2013 did try again. The ScoreSelect option enables a person to take it again and send schools only their best scores.”

Carlidge’s advice to test takers: “Prepare thoroughly for the GMAT and plan to take it only once. Don’t take the real exam as a practice test. There are lots of other, less expensive ways to practice.”  


GMAC said it made the changes in response to a survey of thousands of test takers about their GMAT experience. “We listened and took action,” the organization said in a statement announcing the changes.

The statement:

• The “C” that represents a candidate’s cancelled scores will not be shown on any future GMAT score reports generated by GMAC. This means that when a test taker cancels their score, only the test taker will know. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools. However, score reports with cancelled scores have already been sent to schools, they can’t be modified. 

• Removing cancelled scores from the score reports will help candidates gain more control and confidence of their GMAT experience—something that candidates have repeatedly asked for. In a survey of more than 3,000 students, 85% of respondents indicated that they would like to see the “C” removed from their score reports. This feature will also help deter any misinterpretations of cancelled scores in candidate profiles. 

Repeat Exams Allowed after 16 Days

• Candidates have the option to retake the GMAT exam after a 16-day time period (versus the current 31-day retake period). This allows candidates the flexibility to retake the exam within a shorter period of time in order to accommodate their schedules, study habits, peak performance times, and/or school deadlines.

• As always, candidates can’t exceed five GMAT exams within a 12-month period. 

Authentication Code Replaced with Date of Birth 

• Candidates will be able to view their Official Score Report online using their date of birth to authenticate their access. A separate authentication code will no longer be issued at the test center.

• This change is expected to streamline the process for candidates to access their GMAT scores—and everyone likes one less password/code to remember.