London Business School | Mr. Green Energy
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51
Wharton | Mr. Data Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 7.76/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. 750
GMAT 750, GPA 3.43
Wharton | Mr. Global Perspective
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Surgery to MBB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. International Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Businessman Engineer
GMAT 690, GPA 7.26/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Military 2.0
GRE 310, GPA 2.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Hopeful CXO
GMAT 750, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.82
Duke Fuqua | Mr. National Security Advisor
GMAT 670, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Inclusive Consultant
GMAT 650, GPA 6.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Techie Teacher
GMAT 760, GPA 3.80
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Consulting Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
Yale | Mr. Fencer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.48
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Top Three
GRE 310, GPA 2.7
Tuck | Mr. South African FinTech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.08
IU Kelley | Ms. Marketing Manager
GRE 294, GPA 2.5

How Many Times Should I Take the GMAT?

Studying for the GMAT

 

CONSIDER THE OFFICIAL GMAT RULES FOR RETAKES

One consideration is the amount of retakes you’re allowed to have on the GMAT, per the rules of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). According to the official GMAT website, the GMAT exam can be taken a maximum of five times in a 12-month period. Additionally, if you’re not satisfied with your score on the GMAT, you need to wait at least 16 days before you can take the exam again.

If you’re considering more than one retake, these constraints have to be considered carefully. If you retake every 16 days or so in the hopes of getting the score you need as quickly as possible, you run the risk of running out of retakes for the year before you actually reach the required score. It’s probably better to take more time between retakes and use that extra time to study.

And if you get to the point where you’ve taken the GMAT three times in a year, be as prepared as possible before taking the fourth retake. If your fourth retake still doesn’t get you to where you need to be, you only have one more retake. In turn, a fifth retake in just one year, if it becomes necessary, needs to be approached very carefully. Once you’ve reached the maximum five test sessions for the year, you’ll need to wait until it’s been more than 12 months since your first take of the GMAT before you can do even one more sitting for the test. This can easily delay your admissions process and potential acceptance into an MBA program.

In the latest testing year for which data is available, ending June 30, 2015, some 247,000 GMAT exams were taken, up from 243,000 a year earlier. Typically, 20% of those tests are taken by those who had already sat for the test and are trying to improve their scores. That percentage increased because since December of 2014, test takers can actually cancel their scores at the test centers if they were unsatisfied with them.

Admissions deadlines can also determine whether retakes are possible, or how many retakes are possible. If the deadline to submit your GMAT scores to a school is less than two weeks away, then a retake will be impossible because of the 16-day minimum wait period. If the deadline is one month away, just one retake is possible. With a deadline for application in two months, a maximum of three retakes of the GMAT would be possible, and so on.

CONSIDER THE FINANCIAL COSTS 

In most countries, the fee for taking the GMAT is $250. You can take the exam up to five times in 12 months. That means a maximum of four retakes in a 12-month period. In other words, if you want to “max out” on retakes, it’ll cost you $1,000 in a year. Consider the textbooks and GMAT prep courses you could purchase with $1,000. That extra prep could help you pass the GMAT in fewer testing sessions. So it’s very likely there are more effective ways to spend your money than on retake fees.

THE TAKEAWAY

Many test-takers fall short of the score they need on their first try. This obviously necessitates at least one retake, maybe more than one. But scheduling a retake is just part of the larger approach you should take to improving your score. Additional study and a careful assessment of what went wrong the first time will help you minimize the number of retakes you’ll need. Of course, if you’ve already taken the GMAT several times you might want to consider giving the GRE a shot. Because of the substantial differences between the tests, this GMAT versus GRE decision is always worth reviewing to determine which test will best reflect your strengths to MBA admissions.

*****

David Recine is a GMAT and TOEFL expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been tutoring and teaching ESL since 2007.

DON’T MISS: THE CASE FOR TAKING THE GMAT EARLY or HE CONQUERED THE GMAT AND WENT TO JAIL FOR IT

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.