Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63

How Many Times Should I Take the GMAT?


Things don’t always go as hoped — or planned — on test day. Sometimes you don’t reach your target score on the first try. It’s actually quite common for someone to need to take the GMAT multiple times before they get the score they need. This of course begs the question: How much do retakes help? How many times should you retake the GMAT to get your target score — or get as close as possible?


The first inevitable question is will retaking the test make much of a difference. The last time GMAT did an analysis of repeat test takers was some time ago: in 2011. At that point, the organization found that roughly a fifth of the tests taken in any given year are by people who have taken the exam before. Although there are no meaningful differences in the gender, average Quantitative scores,

and undergraduate GPAs among repeat test takers, there are some other key differences between those who choose to retake the exam and those who don’t.

GMACGMAC found that repeat test takers are far more likely to have failed to finish either the Quantitative or Verbal portion of the exam. They are also more likely to have a lower GMAT total score than their self-reported undergraduate GPA would typically indicate. In other words, those who take the test again are a self-selected group that is more likely to think they did not do as well as they could have the first time they took the GMAT exam.

The other big question, of course, is what impact did retaking the test generally have for the people who sat through it again? Among the self-selected pool of repeat test takers, the average gains are relatively modest–though not if you are a candidate who is on the cusp. The overall average gain was 33 points (on a 200-800 scale) on a second testing, with increasingly smaller cumulative gains in successive test sittings. The difference between a 690 and a 720 can be very significant for many applicants who want to get into a highly selective business school. But here’s the scary news: Nearly 25 percent actually score lower the second time.


However, GMAC found that although repeat test takers have slightly lower average Verbal scores than first-time test takers, they gain, on average, 2.5 points on the Quantitative and 2.1 points on the Verbal score (on a 60-point scale) when taking the test a second time. It is also worth noting those who failed to finish the test the first time nearly always finish during repeat testings.

There are notable differences by score group. Those who score 700 and above gain, on average, only about 8 GMAT total scaled score points on their first retest. Those who score between 600 and 690, 500 and 590, and 200 and 490, gain, on average, about 20, 30, and 40 points respectively. Individuals who score 600 and above typically gain very little in their third and fourth attempts.

GMAC found that there are some cultural differences between those who retake the exam and those who do not. Not surprisingly, non-white, non-native English speakers, and non-US citizens are more likely to retake the exam. “We have learned that some sit for the test the first time fully intending to retake it later, viewing the first sitting as sort of a baseline to see how they’ll do and where they need to focus their study efforts,” according to a GMAC analysis.

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.