Mission Admission: How Many Times Can I Take the GMAT?

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

When candidates ask us whether they should take the GMAT again, our instinct is always to reply with a question, “Do you think you can do better?” Assuming that a candidate does indeed believe that he/she can improve, the candidate’s next question inevitably becomes, “What do the business schools think of multiple scores?”

Fortunately, MBA programs do not frown on students taking the test more than once. Many candidates feel that they have to be “perfect” the first time and that any subsequent test they take, particularly if they recieve a lower score, might be damaging. This is not the case. In fact, Dartmouth Tuck anticipates that candidates will take the test more than once, openly stating their willingness to accept and then “fuse” candidates’ highest verbal and quantitative scores, if they occur on separate tests. Meanwhile, other programs have been known to call students and tell them that if they can increase their GMAT scores, then they will be admitted.

From an admissions perspective, accepting a candidate’s highest scores is in an MBA program’s best interest, because doing so will in turn raise the school’s GMAT average, which is then reported to rankings bodies (Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, etc.) So, don’t be afraid to take the test two or three times. It can’t really hurt you. It can only help you.

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