Mission Admission: Taking the GMAT Multiple Times

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 an important question: “Do you think you can do better?” And if the candidate does indeed believe that he/she can improve, the individual’s next question is inevitably “What do the business schools think of multiple scores?”

Fortunately, MBA programs do not frown on candidates 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 receive a lower score—might be damaging. This is not the case. In fact, Dartmouth Tuck anticipates that applicants will take the test more than once, and openly states its 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, they will be offered admission.

From an admissions perspective, accepting a candidate’s highest GMAT 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 BusinessweekU.S. News & World Report, etc.) and could positively influence the school’s position in the rankings. So, do not be afraid to take the test two or even three times. It cannot really hurt you. It can only help you.

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