Should I Retake the GMAT? Advice and Study Tips

Reload symbol representing GMAT retake

Have you taken the GMAT once (or more than once) and don’t feel satisfied with your GMAT score? If so, you might be contemplating, Should I retake the GMAT? and would like some advice on this topic. Read on to determine if taking the GMAT more than once is a good option for you.

Taking the GMAT more than once is not unusual. According to GMAC stats, 1 in 5 tests are taken by people who have taken the exam before.

On the other hand, while there might be good reasons in some cases to retake the GMAT, there are also many scenarios in which taking the test once is the best decision. Like everything else in the GMAT universe, you need to be strategic – about how, when, and even if you should retake the test.

Table of Contents

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Can you retake the GMAT?

GMAT Retake Policy

Yes, you may retake the GMAT exam! If your next question is, How soon can I retake the GMAT? you should know that there are some restrictions. According to the GMAT retake policy from the GMAC, you can’t take it more than five times in a 12-month period and not more than once every 16 days. Also, there’s a cap so you’re only allowed to take the GMAT eight times total. Considering that you have to pay full price for each retake, there are likely some financial restrictions as well. The online version of the test costs $250.

These timelines are important if you have application deadlines coming up and need to decide whether it’s worth leaving extra time for a possible rewrite. And even if you take the test just once, it takes off some of the pressure to know it’s not your only shot at it!

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Who should retake the GMAT? Things to Consider

Can you get a better score?

The biggest factor to consider is whether or not you can get a better score if you retake the test. Sounds obvious right? But it is not that simple. If you look at GMAC data it is clear that returns are diminishing with each retake. As you would expect, the higher your score, the harder it is to make big improvements. What is worse – a quarter of test-takers get a lower score on their second attempt.

So how do you know if you should be scoring higher? Well, one way is to look at your mock test scores. If you have been scoring much higher on your mock tests than you did on the day of your actual test – you probably had a bad day. It’s definitely worth taking the test again to improve. You can take the test again in 16 days.

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But what if you are not scoring as well as you think you could be, and your mock tests are reflecting this as well? Then you should seriously consider making fundamental changes to your approach. If you are doing the same things as you did last time, you are unlikely to get a huge score improvement the next time you take the test. 16 more days of studying are probably not going to make a big difference. Rethink your strategy!

Estimated Time to Study for a Retake

In a nutshell, you don’t need to wait more than 16 days if poor performance was unusual for you. If there was a drastic drop in your score compared to your mocks, you probably had a bad day, or let anxiety get the better of you. If your lower score is consistent with your mock test scores, you’ll need to practice a whole lot more.

Obvious Areas for Improvement

Top Tip: You get an Enhanced Score Report when you take the GMAT at a test center. It has amazingly useful insights into your strengths and weaknesses to help you prepare for a retake. It also gives you insights into your time management. Unfortunately, this option is not available for the online version of the test.

Goals for the GMAT

The GMAT is not an end unto itself. It’s all about getting into your target business schools. So if you feel that:

  1. Your academic ability might be questioned (say, because of a low GPA), AND
  2. If you are applying to top tier business schools, AND
  3. If your hopes are grounded in good valid reasons that, with good prep work, you could get a great score—THEN, retake the GMAT.

You should also consider whether you have the time, energy, and determination to throw yourself into an intensive GMAT review. Remember that it isn’t worth putting intense time and energy into nudging up your GMAT score if other aspects of your application suffer.

Consider the overall balance of your application. The GMAT is just one piece of a full picture of any business school candidate. Yes, take the GMAT more than once if you believe this will move your score closer to the range of the schools you are targeting, but be careful not to put so much energy into a retake that you neglect other equally important parts of the application process.

If you get over 720 on the GMAT, you have clearly demonstrated that you can handle the academic coursework at any business school in the world. That box is checked. So should you retake the GMAT? Bumping up your GMAT another 10 or 20 points when your “academic ability” box is already checked does absolutely nothing for you. There is no reason to retake the GMAT when you score over 720 unless you are scoring substantially higher in your mock tests.

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Does retaking the GMAT look bad?

As a rule, schools generally see multiple GMAT retakes as a sign of commitment. As long as you are improving, that is. You have the option to cancel your GMAT score on the day of your test so that schools don’t see it. You should only really cancel your score if it is lower than a previous test, or a huge misrepresentation of your true ability.

Most business schools will consider your highest score only. Some schools will look at your highest sectional score (for Quant and Verbal) across different tests. It’s worth finding out how your target schools view these scores. Note that some schools will have a minimum sectional score, usually for Quant.

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How to Study for a GMAT Retake

1. Follow a Strict Study Plan

It is important to keep up the momentum and get right back into it. The GMAT is often compared to a marathon and you don’t want to ‘lose fitness’, by taking a break now. Make sure you stick to a GMAT study schedule to keep you on track

2. Take Plenty of Practice Tests

We all need to practice sitting for a long period of time, dealing with focus and motivation over a long period, and testing and refining pacing strategies. Before you took the real test, you should’ve taken at least 4 – 6 practice tests. If you didn’t then you know exactly what to do this time.

Some of you might have taken this many tests, but not all practice tests are created equally. We only recommend GMAT Prep tests, Magoosh tests, and Manhattan tests. All other tests are of questionable quality.

This time around, make sure you are taking high-quality, complete practice tests once a week. Since you are taking the test for a second or third time, you won’t need to spend time learning the question types or working on fundamentals. So use your time to take these practice tests. With the time between tests, comb through your performance. Identify problem spots. Locate weaknesses. Track your progress on each question type and each skill. Ultimately, the goal is awareness. With a catalog of your mistakes and weaknesses, you can be on guard during your next practice test, and in the end, on the actual test.

3. Use Reputable Prep Materials

If you weren’t using the highest-quality materials, then you were at a disadvantage on test day. If you were using poor materials, you didn’t have a chance. If you choose to retake the GMAT, read about the best GMAT books and resources so that you know what to use this time around.

Now that you know that all resources are not created equally, get rid of the ones that are poor and surround yourself with the best of the best—Manhattan, GMAT Official Guide, and Magoosh. Revisit our GMAT Reading List (for Verbal practice) and How to Study for GMAT Quant (for Quant tips). Also, don’t just settle on one resource; the more variety, the better prepared you will be.

Seeing the same material more than once is still valuable, and you can still make improvements this way. Actually, attempting questions that you have already seen is a great metric for how much you have learned or improved.

4. Know and Address Your Weaknesses

Success is only achieved with an honest assessment of one’s abilities. When you took the GMAT, did you have a strong sense of your weaknesses? Did you know if you struggle with geometry more than algebra? Further, did you know that you struggle more with compound interest questions than simple interest questions? Were you keeping track of your repeated errors and mistakes? Did you know what grammar concepts you continually missed in Sentence Correction questions? What slowed you down the most when reading a passage? Did you tend to make “silly” mistakes when you were almost done with a problem?

This time when you study, your goal should be to know the answers to these questions. And you can only do this by keeping track of your mistakes and spending more time analyzing questions and reading answer explanations. What you need is an error log.

Some of you may be able to keep a mental error log, but memory is a tricky thing. It’s harder to notice patterns this way, so we recommend using a notebook for your error log. Write down the question number, the source, question type, and concept tested. Then write down answers to the following questions:

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  • Why did you miss the question?
  • Why was your answer wrong?
  • Why was the correct answer correct?
  • What will you do to avoid this the next time around?

You want your common mistakes and errors present in your mind when you retake the GMAT so that you can consciously avoid them. If you do this enough, by the time you sit for the actual test, you will be aware of your common errors and “silly” mistakes and you will work to avoid them or notice them when they happen.

5. Tune Into Your Body and Mind

Stress and anxiety have a powerful effect on our ability to concentrate and focus. Just the right amount of stress can make us more focused, more in tune with our task, and less prone to error. But there is a threshold where stress is no longer beneficial and starts to hurt our performance.

If you scored dramatically lower on the actual test than on the GMAT Prep mock exam, then stress may have played a major part in not reaching your target score.

Luckily there are many tangible ways you can work on minimizing stress and anxiety:

  • Get enough sleep. REM sleep is essential for memory encoding, and we only get enough REM when we get a full eight hours at night.
  • Keep physically active. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers you can get.
  • Practice deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.
  • Cultivate the mindset that enhances memory and intuition, and decreases stress.

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As you look up at the hill of GMAT studying ahead, a hill that you have already trailblazed once, stay confident and positive. You have experience on your side and know what lies at the top of the hill.

With experience comes confidence, and with confidence comes domination. Learning to manage your stress and anxiety will be easier this time since you have the experience. Make practice tests the main part of your studying. Use quality materials and don’t be afraid to tackle the same book again. Finally, keep a log of your errors, slip-ups, and mistakes.

If the journey is arduous and requires hard work, by the time you reach the apex and take the test, you’ll be able to look down and know that you will never have to climb that hill again. Happy studying!

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  • Cara Skikne

    Cara is a communications specialist, admissions consultant, and one of those lunatics who genuinely loves the GMAT. Cara is the Senior Editor at Studyportals, a global study choice platform used by over 50 million students each year. Prior to working at Studyportals, Cara wrote for BusinessBecause, an MBA news site owned by the GMAC, and co-founded a company dedicated to admissions support for business school candidates from Africa. She has an MBA from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Journalism from Rhodes University. Reach out on LinkedIn if you’d like to get in touch!

64 Responses to Should I Retake the GMAT? Advice and Study Tips

  1. Pablo Z November 10, 2018 at 9:03 am #

    Hi Mike,

    I am having a hard time making this decision. I took my GMAT for the first time in November 2016 with the intention of going for a second round but ended up with a 710 score (42 Verbal / 46 Quant) and 8 in IR and decided to stick with it. Due to different circumstances, I haven’t made my MBA applications but will do them next year (2020 entry) and I am left wondering if I should retake the test to improve my score.

    Due to my original plan of taking the test twice, I didn’t study as thoroughly as I probably could have as I wanted to feel the real test experience first so that at my second try I wasn’t as anxious. Today I still believe that with a disciplined and intensive approach I can improve my score. However, as two years have gone by, I would basically have to start from scratch. Pareto’s principle would dictate that what I have to do now is 80% of the work for 20% of the result, which seems highly inefficient. What do you think?

    Other background information: I have a 3.3 GPA and have obtained the CFA designation.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Pablo,

      Since you’re a Premium student, I forwarded your message on to our team of student support specialists. They will be able to provide you with an answer shortly! Just so you know, you’ll receive the answer in an email 🙂

  2. Marc H. December 12, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    Hi Mike, thanks for the article (and all the other’s you’ve done, I think I’ve nearly read them all).

    Do you think the cutoff scores still apply to 2017 as they did 4 years ago? I know average scores have been on the rise, so was curious if you thought a 650 was still an accurate bottom score for “dark gray.”

    I’m applying to several top 15 programs (some in the top 5 depending on the list), and just took the GMAT for the first time today and scored a 680 (42Q, 41V). Needless to say, its the quant score that worries me. In practice tests my highest quant was a 44, which based on the charts would have landed me a 690 with my verbal score (which seems to be at or near my max potential based on practice tests).

    Will the 42Q throw up a major red flag? I think the first test jitters and several unfortunate disturbances that occurred in the testing room (distracting neighbors, multiple/different tests being proctored at the same time etc…) negatively affected my score, but even in a perfect world I don’t know that I could score above a 45Q.

    Also of note, I scored a 7 on the IR, which was my highest score yet. Could that help make up for a lackluster Quant score?

    I’m debating taking the test again in about 3 weeks, with the hopes of hitting a 690 or 700 and a higher Quant score (though my IR would likely drop to 5 or 6, based on practice tests). Do you think its worth it? My leadership experience in the military should make a strong case for my work background and help with the essays. My gpa is on the lower end of the middle-80% spectrum for most schools (but was from a service academy, USMA).

    Thanks for the input!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

      Hi Marc,

      Our expertise is in test prep, not admissions advice, so I’m afraid I don’t have a perfect answer for you. This is a tricky question and there is no clear solution. I can certainly understand how frustrating it is to have distractions at the testing center (at mine they had the A/C so low that I couldn’t feel my fingers), and generally students improve their score during their second attempt if for no other reason than that they are prepared for whatever the testing center throws at them. This blog post is meant to cover some general topics, but I highly recommend that you do some of your own research at your target schools to see what sort of score they are looking for. The IR score can certainly help to make up for a lower-than-expected quant score, but each school varies in how they view and consider the IR section.

      You should also consider your MBA admissions timeline–we recommend that students take at least a month to craft strong essays and get their application in order. The GMAT is only part of the admissions package, and you want to make sure that you take the time to create a strong overall application. If a retake would take time away from this, you might want to think twice about it.

      This isn’t an easy question, and admission to top MBA programs is a complex equation with a lot of variables. I will say that most people who retake see improvement on their score, so if you continue to study for the next few weeks you will almost certainly see some positive improvement. The best you can do is research programs to be well-informed about the pros and cons of each choice. I wish you the best of luck!

  3. Viv August 12, 2017 at 2:33 am #

    I just want to share my experience about my GMAT retake.

    So I retook the GMAT for a second time and ended up getting exactly the same score as my first attempt! My (common) score is 710 – just the end of the dark gray spectrum.

    The only reason I thought of retaking the test was to focus on better time management, especially in the Quant section. During my first attempt, I nearly ran short of time in Quant and ended up fast-guessing the last few questions, which I believed was responsible for slightly dipping my score to 48 / 71%. My Verbal was very healthy at 40 / 91%.

    During my retake, I ended up with 49 / 80% Quant and 38 / 85% Verbal. The scores went up & down in a way to counter each others and result in an identical score as the first attempt. My timing was markedly improved as intended, and I never got the running-late jitters during either section.

    Honestly, I’m left feeling pretty weird!

    Anyway, I had started working on my US B-school applications and will resign to using this score now.

  4. Jared June 26, 2017 at 6:42 am #

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you very much for all of your posts and videos. After studying with Magoosh, I took the GMAT and scored a 720 overall with a 42 Quantitative, 47 Verbal, and 8 IR. I am looking to get into a top tier MBA program and was wondering if my low quantitative score was too much of a red flag. My quantitative score was lower than I expected, as I had been scoring 45-47 on mock exams, while my verbal score was higher than I expected.

    I understand that the rest of my profile can make up for this, and therefore I want to share that I have my CFA designation and earned my bachelor’s degree in Finance with a 3.81 GPA.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 27, 2017 at 8:53 am #

      Hi Jared,

      Your composite score is still certainly good enough for all of the top MBA programs. Based on this, combined with your high IR score and your impressive undergrad GPA, I’d say you have a very good shot at top tier programs in general.

      Still, every top school is different, and it’s also possible that a few individual top-tier MBA programs will see your 42 Q as a problem. You may want to reach out to your target schools, ask them if your Quant score could be an issue, and ask them what you can do to mitigate that problem, if need be.

  5. Madmax January 29, 2017 at 9:46 am #


    I did my GMAT and scored a 670 (Q49,V31). I messed up the IR part and ended on a score of 2. Does this mess up all my chances of applying to a top business school? My profile is unique in a way that I’ve been a professional athlete and national champion, which I think will help my standout.

    Do you guys think I should retake the exam? I really think this was close to my max score.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 29, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

      Hi there,

      I’m sorry to hear that your IR score wasn’t as strong as you expected, but congratulations on an AWESOME scaled score! There are very few people who can boast a 670 on the GMAT, and that’s something that business schools won’t take lightly 🙂

      Unfortunately, it’s difficulty to say how the relatively low IR score will affect your admissions chances, because each school treats the IR section differently. Some schools don’t worry about it, some schools use it as a sort of ‘benchmark’ and want you to reach a certain score, and some schools may look at the IR as carefully as your 670 scaled score. You can read more about how business schools view IR scores here. In addition, the GMAT score is only one component of the application, and business schools take many different factors into consideration. So it’s really impossible to tell how your IR score will interact with your stellar scaled score and strong resume.

      I recommend that you contact your target schools and try to determine how they view the IR. If you are considering a highly competitive program, then a stronger IR score might help you (again, this depends on the school), but of course you have to consider the time and expense that would be required for that. If you do re-take, try to do it as soon as possible–give yourself enough time to adequately prepare for the IR section and keep practicing quant and verbal to maintain your skills. You wouldn’t need to improve your scaled score since it’s already so high, but it’s easy to lose standardized test skills if you don’t study consistently, so you need to make sure that you don’t get a higher IR at the expense of a lower scaled score! I’m sorry that this isn’t exactly the answer you were looking for, but I hope it helps a little 🙂

  6. Patrick November 21, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Quick question. I notice that the threshold you give in both forums regarding retaking the GMAT is “over 720”. What does this mean for a 720? 720 and up? I scored a 48q and 41v for total of 720. Should I retake? Please advise.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Patrick,

      First of all, great job on the great score! Honestly, it depends on how you can make your application the strongest. With that score, you are still quite competitive. So, if spending more time on the rest of your application will strengthen your application, then I would do that! Now, if you have flexibility and would like to try for a higher score, then you can definitely put forth the effort into your studies. At the end of the day, it is personal preference.

  7. Kanin November 1, 2016 at 3:32 am #

    High Mike,

    I just got my GMAT score on my first try
    700( Q:50 V:34) however my ir is just 4. I aim for top b-school in the states. I’m not from english speaking countries. Should i retake GMAT?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 1, 2016 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Kanin,

      As all students now applying have an IR score, it may be an additional point of comparison for adcoms, and it may have a larger influence than in prior years. However, you do have a great combined score, and that is likely still the main weight for most programs. If you have flexibility, and believe that you can score higher, I would consider retaking the exam. If you don’t have this time, then I would focus on your other parts of your application.

  8. Nathaly October 10, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

    Hello Mike.

    I want to apply for a masters degree in Industrial Engineering in Texas A&M and for an MBA in Amherst, SUNY at Buffalo and BYU. I took the GRE test which is accepted in all the universities mentioned above and I got 150 on the verbal reasoning section and 152 in the quantitative section. How are these scores translated into GMAT scores? Should I retake the GRE?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 12, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

      Hi Nathaly,

      The GMAT is most commonly accepted for business schools, and most masters programs accept the GRE without needing to ‘convert’ the score to a GMAT score. The tests are very different, so this exercise wouldn’t make much sense anyway! This resource can help you decide whether or not to retake the GRE:

  9. Kashyap August 13, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    I got 690(V:34, Q:49, IR:8, AWA:4). I have above average academics. In terms of my co-curriculars and leadership skills, I’ve had a lot of experience. Also, I’ve undertaken various social projects. Apart from all this, I’ve interned with a Fortune 500. I’m planning on applying to deferred programs at UVA, etc.
    Should I retake the test?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 14, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      If you have a pretty strong application in other areas, some schools– even top ones– may be willing to accept you in spite of your somewhat low GMAT score. Still, getting to 700 or higher on he GMAT gives you a much better shot at acceptance into a B-school of your choice. If you’re pretty sure you can boost yoru score by at least 10 points on the retake, I’d say go for it.

  10. Danny July 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    hey mike,

    I have a gmat score of 750 (Q 49/ 77%, V 41/94%, AWA 5.5, IR 4). Now as you may have noticed that my low IR score is troubling me a bit and I am considering whether I should re-take the exam. Your thoughts?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 9, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

      Hi Danny,

      First of all–congrats on an amazing GMAT score! The answer to this question really depends on what programs you are interested in! I suggest that you contact schools or look up average IR scores on their admissions website. If you are looking at especially competitive programs, you can call an admissions or recruitment officer and get a sense of how important the IR score is in their decision. Chances are, with such a stellar GMAT score, the IR isn’t going to make or break you!

  11. DS Munder July 27, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    Hello Mike,

    Hope you are doing well. You are doing one hell of job helping GMATers across the world. As many of us, I have a question for you.

    I just recently took the GMAT and ended up with 750 (41/94% in Verbal, 49/77% in Quant, 5.5 in AWA and 4 in IR). My concern as you may have already noticed is that I have pretty low IR score compared to other sections. Now my obvious confusion is that do you feel I should retake the exam. I am dreaming, like many others, to get into one of the top 10 schools in the world.

    So please advise.

    Thanks in advance.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi DS Munder,

      See reply below 😉

  12. Christine July 20, 2016 at 3:31 am #

    Hi, I took the GMAT exam and got the following score:

    V:23/31% Q:40/46% Total Score: 530
    IR: 5/53%

    I am interested in applying for Berkeley, NYU, and still contemplating on some other Ivy league schools. Do you have any advice?

    I think I should probably take the GMAT again to get a higher score. Planning to apply for 2017 intake.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

      With those scores, you’ll definitely want to retake if you’re aiming for Berkeley (average GMAT score 715). NYU doesn’t technically have a minimum or officially recommended GMAT score requirement. But you’ll also want to raise your score to make sure you’re competitive there, and have a good shot at other top schools.

      So my advice is to retake— and to really look at what you can do to improve, both in terms of skills building and test strategy.

  13. Rentol July 19, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    Hi Mike, I had been advised that if you are fine with your IR and AWA scores, in case of retake, there’s no need to retake also these two sections (as far as you will use both scores in your application). So i did that way and on my retake the overall quantitative and verbal score were satisfying so I would apply using both scores. Do you think that was a bad idea? Thank you!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 9, 2016 at 12:35 am #

      Hi Rentol,

      Sorry it took so long to get to this! Have you already made your applications?

      In any case, I would not have advised this because sometimes you are only allowed to submit a total of ONE score for consideration when applying, and you would have to choose between your strong Q/V score or your strong IR/AWA score. We never advise ignoring one part of the test to focus on others because that will hurt you when you apply somewhere that considers your score holistically. Since what is done is done, I hope that you are able to apply places that will look across your scores! Good luck, Rentol. 🙂

  14. Harsh July 11, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    I took the GMAT and got a 710 (v44 q43).
    I understand that the verbal / quant balance is off and most schools require a higher score in quant.

    The bigger problem, however, is my IR score which is a “2” . I completely lost my cool during the IR as I was not really prepared for it and messed it all up.

    Should I retake the GMAT because of the IR or to improve my quant?

    Thank you.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 12, 2016 at 7:48 am #

      Hi Harsh,

      Happy to help! 🙂 First, congratulations on your 710!

      Your IR question is a hard one to answer. Do you know what universities you want to attend? If you do, you should dig into internet research and determine how they treat the IR scores. Some don’t use them, some only use the IR scores as a threshold, and others fully judge candidates based on the IR score. I cannot tell you what an individual university does, but their pages should mention it OR they will happily tell you if you contact them. The IR, with each passing year, is starting to become more respected and assessed.

      A 2 on IR is fairly low, so if you thought you could bring up your IR and possibly even get another couple of points in quant and verbal by preparing for a retake, that would likely reflect very well on you. Unless you are completely certain you could not improve or you have been told by admissions that improvement isn’t necessary, it’s always a good idea to strive for more. 😀 I wouldn’t say retake it for one specific part, but if you can inch up in all categories, it will make you a much stronger candidate!

  15. Steve May 16, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    Hi Mike,

    I recently took the GMAT and got a 650 (Q:42, V:38) with 7 on IR. I am shooting to improve into (at least) the high 600’s since the schools I’m targeting have an average of 680/690. What are your thoughts on my need to improve the score vs. taking my chances with a 650?

    Thank you,


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 24, 2016 at 12:28 am #

      Hi Steve,

      Good question! 🙂

      Many people have the same question, and ultimately there isn’t a perfect answer. If your application outside of the GMAT score is very strong, a retake may not be necessary. I, personally, am the kind of person who likes to do everything possible to improve chances, though, so if you think you can improve and retake for a better score, even if it’s only 10 or 20 points, it could be worth it! (I would do it myself, but everyone had different cost-benefit opinions.)

      Ultimately, you need to think like an admissions officer and decide if your current GMAT score, GPA, work experience, and applicant profile are compelling enough or if a little more “oomph” is needed.

      We wish you luck! 🙂

  16. Ashna April 3, 2016 at 8:04 am #

    Hi Mike, I recently took the GMAT and score 640 (Q47, V32). I must admit I’ve never been a nervous person before exams, but this definitely got my nerves going.

    I must admit I’ve had some pretty volatile scores going into the exam, consistently scoring 650 on Veritas Prep a few weeks before the exam, and then dropping off a cliff to the 550 level (I think I burned out). I took a break from revision, and then tried again, I got 650 and then 690 on my GMAT prep. I realised I was spending too much time on my quant, and not enough on my verbal.

    I definitely think I can do better, particularly on the verbal, by brushing up on some concepts and calming my nerves. Are there any tips you’d suggest to improve from here? Are such fluctuations normal? I managed to get the ESR report, so have been working on areas of improvement.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 5, 2016 at 1:04 am #

      Hi Ashna,

      Just for reference, wild fluctuations and rapid changes (usually downward trending) during prep is normal! Don’t let the stress of that snapshot stop you from continuing on a good and positive-moving course, though. 🙂

      It is good that you have identified where you think you need to focus your efforts. Keep your efforts focused on those things you need–like the verbal core concepts–and don’t put too much stock into the test scores. Focus on what the errors you make on those tests tell you, and let the score issue wait for now. Ultimately, no program can quite simulate the actual GMAT scoring, so use those experiences as rough guides but, more importantly, as chances to capture the type of mistakes you make in a test situation!

      I hope that helps calm your nerves a bit, Ashna! 🙂

  17. Mahesh January 19, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    I have a 720 GMAT with very little effort. I feel I can easily get a 750+ score with a couple of months’ effort. Is the difference between a 720 & 760 also not worth another shot?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 29, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      Hi Mahesh,

      Good question! The answer depends on the programs you wish to enter. Often, the admissions pages for different universities will tell you the average or median score for accepted students. If you are above that average, you may be okay and you can move on. If you are at the average or below, it would behoove you to strive for some improvement. Also pay attention to how your score broke down in quant and verbal–perhaps your skills in one area are strong enough but lacking in another. You want to make sure you fully meet the admissions criteria for whatever programs you like best. Depending on where you want to go, a 760 can be an instant acceptance while a 720 is a waitlist at best.

      I hope that helps! Thanks for your patience awaiting this reply, too. 🙂

  18. Enrico Marino January 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    Hello guys!
    I just took my GMAT and got a 480, which is not what I need to get into the program I want. I want to take it again since I would like to get admitted into this program. My grades are at GPA 3.80 and my extracurricular activities are outstanding. I want to know since this is my last semester and it is going to be a busy one.

    btw I am a non native speaker and I am awful to when it to standardized testing.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2016 at 9:00 am #

      Hi Enrico,

      Sorry for the late reply! I’m happy to help. 🙂

      It sounds like a retake would definitely be good for you. Your previous score isn’t enough to get you where you want to go. Even though you are busy, you can now revisit your studies with some clear information about what you can and can’t do easily. Work through your old material and carefully revise your incorrect answers. This will help you to figure out your weak areas and improve for your retake! Since the rest of your academic profile is strong, this test score is the last piece, it seems.

      Standardized tests can be challenging, but if you learn the form, structure, and expectations of a test like the GMAT, you can definitely conquer it! Many, many people take the GMAT that aren’t native speakers, so don’t let your confidence waver. 🙂

  19. ck December 28, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    Mike, I got a 760 recently which is fantastic, but I could only manage a 5 in IR…although in my previous GMAT attempt (700) I had a more respectable 6 in it. Do I need to retake the GMAT because of this? Or will schools look at my previous attempt and take the higher of the two scores in IR? How would this affect my application?

    Really do not feel like attempting the GMAT again!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 2, 2016 at 1:40 am #

      Hi CK,

      I apologize for how late this response is. I hope that it can help others in your position, and if you have some insight into what you ended up doing, please let us know!

      In general, the IR is still a very ambiguous section–many schools are looking seriously at the IR results, but there are also many that are not taking the IR section into account (yet). With the passage of time, I expect that the IR will become as normal as the quant and verbal sections, but in the meantime, the best way to find out what at potential school does with the IR score (and whether it could hold you back) is to contact the admissions staff and find out directly from each program. If a 5 in the IR will hold you back, you absolutely want to retake! Likewise, if the school doesn’t really pay attention to candidates’ IR scores, there is no reason to retake the GMAT if the rest of your score gets you where you want to go.

      I hope that makes sense! 🙂

  20. swati October 13, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    Hi Mike,

    Yesterday I took gmat and scored terribily bad after 3/4 months of preparation I got 430(q38,verbal 12),My brain was not working whiile taking the verbal section.Is there any hope to improve my score to 700??Please suggest..

    • Dani Lichliter
      Dani Lichliter October 13, 2015 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Swati,
      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t score as well as you had hoped. I would definitely recommend checking out this blog post from Mike on how to improve your GMAT verbal score. I think it will help! 🙂
      Best of luck!

  21. Tina September 25, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Hi Mike,

    I did a modified version of the 3-month (math-focused) study plan and studied hard for the past two months. I took my GMAT yesterday and received a 650 (94th percentile V and 40th percentile Q). I’m thrilled with my verbal score (did little to no prep on verbal aside from practice tests), and pretty disappointed in my quant. I took notes on each Magoosh quant video and did a fair amount of practice.

    What do you recommend in terms of review and self-study if I plan to take the test again in 3-4 weeks? I’d like to finish it in time to have a month or so to refine the other parts of my application prior to round two. Also, while I know a low math score is the red flag I need to get rid of, would I stand to benefit from also working on verbal this time around?

    Thank you!

    • Tina September 25, 2015 at 9:55 am #

      I should also note that I’m planning to apply to mainly top 15 programs (none in the top 5). Thanks!

  22. Briana September 16, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks for the tips, Mike! I’m in a similar predicament to a few others here.

    My overall score cleared the hurdle: a 730, but my quantitative score was way weaker than I feel capable of doing. Q: 44 and V: 46.

    I took the test not feeling fully prepared (and jet-lagged), so I’m considering retaking after I’ve reviewed the quant section more thoroughly. From what I’ve read, such a low quant score is simply not acceptable for admission to top-tier schools. Is that right?

    For context, I’ve a high GPA (3.92) from a top undergrad and got As in my quantitative courses in college. But even that doesn’t seem like enough to redeem my GMAT score. Would love your perspective!

  23. Laura August 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    I recently took the GMAT and scored a 680 (Quant 48; Verbal 35; IR 6), and I want to apply to top 10 schools. I think I need to retake the GMAT (do you have any advice of my chances), and was wondering what should I focus on studying between now and my next exam? Any books to recommend?


    • Anil September 7, 2015 at 5:03 am #

      Hi Mike,

      I just finished with my GMAT, Q46 V 27 610 IR 6

      My MGMAT mocks score were

      GMAT Prep

      I just succumbed to the exam pressure and stress and mainly in figuring out 700+ questions and now after reading at several forums I somehow feel this is more or less my ability to score in an exam like pressure, currently I have 2 years work ex and wanted to try for Fall 2016, my question is should I retake it in a couple of weeks time or work from scratch and look for a later date as I feel 3+ years of work ex( by Dec 2016)with good extra co curricular and associations with NGOs and reasonably good Achievements, will help me put a stronger application for the top 20 universities in Fall 2017.

      Material Used : MGMAT 10 strategy Guides
      OG 13

      Please let me know in case of retake what my strategy should be.

      A reply would be really appreciated.

  24. Joseph Edwards August 5, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    Hi Mike,
    I recently took the GMAT and scored a 680. My verbal score was a 44 but my quant was a 39 (IR 8, AWA 6). The first time around, I did not use any form of program or rigorous structure to study for the quant. I simply worked all of the problems in the OG 15. I’d like to get a MSF from a top-tier university, ideally a top 30 program. Will my shortcomings in quant deter finance programs from selecting me? (Assume my overall body of work is solid as well. High GPA, internship experience, athlete, etc). Should I retake? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    Joe Edwards

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike McGarry August 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

      Dear Joe,
      I’m happy to respond. 🙂 Unfortunately, individual admission consulting is well outside my area of expertise. The question of whether you should retake, for your particular situation and your particular strengths—I would not be qualified to give an answer to that question. I would recommend consulting with a qualified admission consultant, or talking to the finance programs themselves. Now, if those folks tell you to retake, I can recommend a bunch of things you can do in preparation for your retake: that is my area of expertise.
      Does this make sense?
      Mike 🙂

  25. Prashanth June 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Hi Mike, My score is 720(Q-49; V-38); IR-8; AWA-3.5; I am just worried about my AWA score. In my last take I had AWA 4.0 & Overall 680. Will this effect my selection in to top 15 MBA school.


  26. Laura June 8, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    I took my first GMAT test this past weekend and I scored a 740 (49Q / 42V / 8 IR). Your guidelines state to not retake the exam – however I am wonder if my situation is slightly different.

    I accidentally went over my break before the math section by 5 minutes. This completely messed with my mindset. I was very stressed during the math section and basically went into the verbal thinking I was going to have to throw out this score.

    I normally get at least a 50 on the math section and a 44 on verbal (I’ve taken 15 practice tests so I believe this is pretty accurate).

    I really want to retake simply because I feel like what happened was completely preventable (the hands of the clocks were slightly different in the test center lobby from those in the test room). What do you suggest?

  27. Annie June 19, 2014 at 10:20 am #


    I have a situation similar to Abhishek’s. Took the GMAT and did way better than I was expecting on Q/V – I got a 780. However, I messed up during the IR and got a 5.

    I’m aiming for top 10 business schools and will most likely be applying in the 2015-16 cycle – I’m worried that by then, schools will be taking the IR score more seriously.

    What do you think? Does it make sense to re-take the test, or to just hope that the 780 and the rest of my application will offset the 5?

    Thank you!!

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike June 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Dear Annie,
      I’m happy to respond. Don’t retake the GMAT. Don’t retake the GMAT. Don’t retake the GMAT. The 5 on IR is a little low, but well in the normal range, not anything that would raise a red flag. Meanwhile, the 780 is eye-popping and will get you noticed. That’s the job of the GMAT. You are absolutely done with the GMAT. Do not, in a million years, take the GMAT again. Is this clear?
      Best of luck to you!
      Mike 🙂

  28. Marce Pena February 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Hi, I took the GMAT and on the Quantitative portion i didn’t do too well. If i retake the exam to boost only my Q score will the last scores for V and AW remain? In other words can I keep those scores from my previous test and only worry on the Quantitative portion for a retake?


    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike February 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Dear Marce,
      Absolutely not. If you are going to retake, you need to shine on every part of your retake. If your first is high in V, low in Q, and then your retake is low in V, high in Q, that will sent the unfortunate message to adcom that you can’t juggle multiple things at once — when you focus on one thing, another slips. That would make you look bad. If you keep everything about V strong, and also pull up Q, that sends the message that you can make improvements in one area without having to sacrifice anything anywhere else. That’s the message you want to send. Adcom is not going to pick and choose highest scores, the way a college might do for a high school student. This isn’t high school anymore! If you want to get a MBA and handle million dollar accounts, you need to show that you can be trusted to get done everything that needs to get done. Does all this make sense?
      Mike 🙂

  29. Alex December 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    I’m a foreign spanish speaking student and I got an exact 700 (Q: 50, V: 34 and IR: 7) on one attempt. Also, I have an average GPA of 3.6/4.0. I want to apply to the top 5 MBA programs in 2015. Would you recommend retaking the GMAT?


    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike December 18, 2013 at 5:48 am #

      Congratulations on a great GMAT performance. No, you do not need to retake. Make sure every other part of your application is as strong as your GMAT — you may want to consult an admission consultant for that.
      Mike 🙂

  30. Anthony Piccioni November 4, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Hello Mike,

    I am an undergraduate student and I have goals to attend a top 30 MBA program. I know it is early but when is the best time to take the GMAT? Before senior year? After graduation? Also what are some of the best ways I can prepare so as to receive the highest score as possible? Lastly, how many times is to many to retake the GMAT??

    Thank you!!

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike November 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      First of all, forget that last question — the question should be: how should you prepare so that you only take the test once and blow it away? Typically, you need 3-4 years of WE to apply to B-school, and adcom likes to see a relatively recent GMAT, so definitely don’t take it before you finish your undergrad. Having said that, it wouldn’t be too early to start gathering casual information about the test. For example, you might want to peruse this blog and figure out the basic structure of the questions. If you don’t read much, start reading. Here are suggestions:
      If you’re not good with graphs, force yourself to wrestle with graphs frequently — every day, the WSJ should have at least a few graphs that are worth studying.
      If you always lean on a calculator for everything, wean yourself and do math in your head.
      When you are ready for some more formal prep, here’s a blog about the best resources:
      I hope all this helps.
      Mike 🙂

  31. Abhishek October 24, 2013 at 9:23 am #


    I took the GMAT last week and scored 720 ( Q – 49, V – 37, AWA – 5 and IR- 3). I didn’t expect such a low IR score. I plan to apply to the top 10 schools in 2015. I’d like your inputs on whether I should retake the test?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike October 24, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Dear Abhishek,
      You’re case is unusual, and I would recommend contacting a bonafide admission consultant. FWIW, my gut sense is: don’t retake. Your main score is very impressive already. It’s not clear that the business schools are putting much stock in the IR score yet. If there’s anywhere else in your application where you can give evidence of proficiency with data & the display of data (a statistics course, information you have handled at work, etc.), then I would think this would communicate that can handle the types of thinking that IR purports to test. I would suggest doing whatever you can to bolster that aspect of your application, rather than retaking the whole test. That’s my 2 cents, but also check with an admission consultant. Best of luck to you, my friend.
      Mike 🙂

  32. Ishita August 11, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Hi Mike,

    I have an exact 700(Q:48,V:38, AWA 6) on one attempt with an undergrad gpa of 3.28 on a 4 scale. Would you recommend taking GMAT again?


    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike August 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      I would say: don’t retake. Whatever time you would have used to study and prepare for another retake of the GMAT, use that time to make yourself as well-rounded and desirable a candidate as you can make yourself: work experience, familiarity with your fields of interest, references, a vision of what you want to achieve, etc. etc.
      Does all this make sense?
      Mike 🙂

  33. Y Situ May 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for the response. Can you recommend some books that would help with establishing a stronger foundation for math strategy? I thought the 10 pages in the OG were very brief and was not helpful for the math questions that I encountered on the actual exam. The Magoosh videos were very helpful, but is there a text resource that would help me as well?

  34. Yeenkie Situ May 23, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I took the GMAT yesterday and didn’t do as well as I believed I would.

    Leading up the GMAT, in February, I took an intensive 4 week prep class at my university that covered all aspects of the GMAT and had timed practice for each section [met twice a week for 3 hour classes]. I had planned on taking the exam in March, but had to push the test date back to May in order to accomodate for job interviews.

    Leading up the GMAT test date of May 21st, I did problems from the Official Guide, and utilized the Magoosh GMAT resource as well as the Manhattan GMAT books. I watched strategy videos from the Magoosh GMAT site and was improving slowly on the quantitative section.

    I also took a series of practice exams:

    V: 26 Q: 33 Total score: 490
    V: 27 Q: 34 Total score: 510
    V:34 Q: 36 Total score: 680

    However, on the actual GMAT yesterday, here is how I scored:
    V: 32 Q:22 Total score: 470

    Actual GMAT day: I felt as if there were many more math problems with diagrams than I had ever dealt with on practice exams and practice problem sets. There were many problems on the math section that I simply didn’t know how to approach or had no idea what to do in order to solve the problem. I was pretty confident in the verbal section and felt that it was easier than the practice problem sets that I had done.

    I am frustrated that my quantitative score was much lower than all of the practice tests I had taken, by a significant amount. I would like to score a 600. How can I achieve that? How much studying [realistically] would be needed to attain that score? I am moving in August, so I would like to know if it would be a good move to retake the exam in 2 months. Any advice or books or study plans or insight would be much appreciated!

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