I took the GMAT two years ago (in 2011) and got a 710 (44Q/44V). I wasn't very happy with my quant score at the time (68th percentile) but thought this would be OK if I could spend time improving other aspects of my application. I was primarily concerned because I heard that MBA programs prefer an 80%+ percentile for both the quantitative and verbal sections.
However, I just checked the updated percentiles today and realized that my 44Q is now a 61% - a 7% decline in the past 2 years. Now my previous concerns have resurfaced. I plan to apply to business schools in fall 2014 and am aiming at the top 10 programs.
I have a 3.75 undergrad GPA in Economics and will have ~5 years work experience in corporate finance. How detrimental will the low quant score (and now much lower percentile) be to my overall application and admissions success? Do I significantly improve my chances by retaking the GMAT?
Thanks in advance for the help and advice.
B schools have preferences; they don't have hardwired filters for the GMAT score. They will not reject your application on a single criteria - Q less than 80%.
That said, you will not improve your chances of getting in by retaking GMAT and getting a higher score but you will reduce your chances of getting rejected by improving your score. I hope you understand the difference. There are some basic parameters they judge you on - your GMAT score, your GPA, your experience etc. If you are severely lacking in one or more of those, there is a good chance of a red mark on the app. If you are slightly lacking somewhere, they will be wary but they will give you a chance. If you are excelling in all, that's not a green mark - then they move on to your essays, interviews etc. You must excel in those too.
In my opinion, improving your Q to 80%ile will make it easier for them to consider you but they will still consider you even if you don't retake since overall 710 is their average score. A higher quant score will improve your chances (though not drastically) since there won't be anything in your app that will make them uncomfortable. But even with a higher score, you will have to work very hard on your essays and interview to get through. So it all depends on how ambitious you are - if you want to leave no stone unturned in your drive to get to a top school, you may want to retake - if you feel you wouldn't have the time to study much, you can apply as it is and you will still have a good chance of getting through if your essays and interviews are exceptional.
Thanks very much for the sincere and candid response. You have calmed my uneasy mind.