The GMAT and the Law of Diminishing Returns

By - Jul 30, 00:11 AM Comments [0]

This is the time of year when you face the facts: Is my GMAT score high enough to get me into my schools of choice or should I retake the GMAT?   As an consultant, I would advise you to take the GMAT to achieve your highest possible score, but I also warn you that my advice has a corollary: the law of diminishing returns applies to the GMAT.

This classic economic theory implies that if you continue to put forth effort into the GMAT, you will reach a point where the effort you put into the test will have negative consequences (diminished returns).  You may in fact, continue to raise your score, but there is a point at which the number of times you take the GMAT, could negatively impact your application.

So how many attempts at the GMAT are too many attempts at the GMAT?  At what point do you become a serial test taker?  When I was an admissions dean and director, I actually liked to see candidates take the test twice and even three times to try to raise their score.  If they did, that was certainly in their favor and if they didn’t, we simply used the highest score.

However, taking the test six, seven, eight times did negatively impact that way I looked at the candidate. While one can argue that a director should reward the student’s persistence, I would argue that the candidate was putting too much emphasis on only one aspect of the application.  While the GMAT, along with the academic record, offers schools a strong correlation to a student’s academic performance in the core, it does not give the director an indication of leadership, impact, business skills or fit.

You need to show that you are a well-rounded applicant and if after taking the GMAT two or three times, you still don’t achieve the score you want, cast your school net a bit wider.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein is an accomplished consultant/editor and entrepreneur. She is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

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