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GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake?

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GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake? [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2013, 10:51
Hi there -

I've had a bit of a dilemma on my mind for the past year or so and the time has finally come to make a decision. Basically, I'm wondering if I need to retake the GMAT or not.

Context:
Took the GMAT July 2010 - scored a 710 : V40 / Q47, AWA 6
Retook the GMAT July 2012 (because retakes never hurt, right?) - scored a 710 : V41 / Q47, AWA 6, IR 2

Even though the scores are about the same, I'm afraid that the IR 2 will look bad, even if I just submit the first score (provided that's even possible). Am I making this out to be a bigger deal than it is?

Biggest reason I am asking is because I currently find myself unemployed and looking for a job (Was working full-time to launch a startup for the past 2 years and funding dried up). I could use this time to retake the GMAT a 3rd time... or I could learn a new language, travel a bit, put extra energy into the job search, etc. I'm planning on applying for 2014, though if I find a particularly interesting opportunity, I could be persuaded to delay my application until 2015 at the latest. (I'll be 30 on Christmas, and I already feel like I'm at the top end age range for a number of my target schools).

Additional Context (if it helps):

Work Experience:
1. 3 years in IT (mostly in system administration-type roles, some increasing responsibility, promoted / relocated twice)
2. 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa
3. 2 years helping to launch a technology/marketing startup in the US.

Volunteer Experience:
1. Serve on the board for a local non-profit (supporting returned peace corps volunteers)
2. Periodically volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

Goal:
1. Longer-term - start a company with a presence in an emerging economy.
2. Short-term - work for a major technology / financial services company for several years to gain the experience necessary for my longer-term goal

Aiming for: Schools like Cornell, Duke, Darden, Columbia, Yale, Tuck, etc.

Many thanks for the help,

GMAT Confused
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Re: GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake? [#permalink] New post 05 Jul 2013, 14:33
Expert's post
Hi there,

I think you are right on the fence of whether or not a re-take is necessary. I would say the good news is I don't feel it's NEEDED. You do self-report your top scores/best scores on the applications for the most part, and the schools can cross reference with your score report so not saying they can't or won't see the IR but it may not be top of mind. It is true that a 2 is extremely low (not sure if you have any idea what went wrong?) so it could raise a question in a very competitive application process. However the fact that you are out of work currently is also a challenge on your application, so if you are planning to apply soon (sounds like it), I'd focus hard on getting a job nailed down that you can list on your applications if possible. The GMAT can be less of a focus, OR if you are up for it you could try one more time sooner rather than later, in case you could do a lot better on the IR (or possibly even the overall) by giving it one more shot at your current prep level. In general schools are still learning the IR and deciding how much emphasis to place on it etc, though a score of a 5 is generally the 'adequate' mark.

Wish I could be even more helpful! Keep us posted on questions or any concerns and what you decide to do.
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Re: GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake? [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2013, 02:55
mbaMissionJenK wrote:
Hi there,

I think you are right on the fence of whether or not a re-take is necessary. I would say the good news is I don't feel it's NEEDED. You do self-report your top scores/best scores on the applications for the most part, and the schools can cross reference with your score report so not saying they can't or won't see the IR but it may not be top of mind. It is true that a 2 is extremely low (not sure if you have any idea what went wrong?) so it could raise a question in a very competitive application process. However the fact that you are out of work currently is also a challenge on your application, so if you are planning to apply soon (sounds like it), I'd focus hard on getting a job nailed down that you can list on your applications if possible. The GMAT can be less of a focus, OR if you are up for it you could try one more time sooner rather than later, in case you could do a lot better on the IR (or possibly even the overall) by giving it one more shot at your current prep level. In general schools are still learning the IR and deciding how much emphasis to place on it etc, though a score of a 5 is generally the 'adequate' mark.

Wish I could be even more helpful! Keep us posted on questions or any concerns and what you decide to do.



Just a query is IR of 4 is also a deal breaker.
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Re: GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake? [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2013, 21:37
mbaMissionJenK wrote:
Hi there,

I think you are right on the fence of whether or not a re-take is necessary. I would say the good news is I don't feel it's NEEDED. You do self-report your top scores/best scores on the applications for the most part, and the schools can cross reference with your score report so not saying they can't or won't see the IR but it may not be top of mind. It is true that a 2 is extremely low (not sure if you have any idea what went wrong?) so it could raise a question in a very competitive application process. However the fact that you are out of work currently is also a challenge on your application, so if you are planning to apply soon (sounds like it), I'd focus hard on getting a job nailed down that you can list on your applications if possible. The GMAT can be less of a focus, OR if you are up for it you could try one more time sooner rather than later, in case you could do a lot better on the IR (or possibly even the overall) by giving it one more shot at your current prep level. In general schools are still learning the IR and deciding how much emphasis to place on it etc, though a score of a 5 is generally the 'adequate' mark.

Wish I could be even more helpful! Keep us posted on questions or any concerns and what you decide to do.


Thank you very much for your response. I do feel a little relieved to hear that you'd reached a similar conclusion to the one I've been leaning toward - hopefully I'm not succumbing to confirmation bias! My tentative plan was not to retake and to list the score I received in 2010. With the scaled score virtually identical to my score in 2012, I don't see an admissions committee doing much more than verifying that the score I self-report actually lines up with a score in my history. I do know exactly what went wrong... I was scheduled to take the test in very early June 2012 (4th, I think?) but needed to reschedule due to travel and moved it back to mid-July. Unfortunately because of this delay, the new IR section was added which had not been part of any of my studying. I froze up during the test and only answered perhaps half of the questions in that section. My assumption is that it will take roughly 8 or so weeks of study time before I would be in any shape to take the test again... time which I think may detract from essay writing and application preparation. I'm not technically unemployed yet, as I do continue to offer some assistance to the startup I'd been working for, though I will need to find something new in relatively short order. With any luck, something will pan out. If all else fails, I considered going abroad for 2-3 months to learn a foreign language on the cheap to start acquiring the language skills necessary to prepare myself for my post-MBA goal of working in/with emerging markets (perhaps including a semester exchange abroad during my MBA), though I'm sure that a 3-month gap/current employment status like that would look terrible to the admissions folks.

Quick follow-up question: If I opted not to retake the GMAT and went with the plan of listing my score from 2010, would you recommend using the optional essay to explain the IR 2 from a separate exam?

Many thanks,
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Re: GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend a retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2013, 08:33
Expert's post
Overall I believe your plan and rationale make sense. Worse case if they reviewed your IR score and asked about it in an interview can explain that you know why it went wrong, didn't answer it all, weren't prepared for the new exam section etc. No I don't believe 4 would be a problem. But I agree if preparation for a re-take would cut that much into your essay/application prep then it may not be worth it. As for the optional essay, that is a tough call. If you have nothing else that you want to use the optional essay for in terms of adding to your application, you could write something very brief, but I think it'd also be fine to leave it out, that one is borderline. Overall I think the main basis for a decision will be based on the rest of your application, and if they notice it and it's a concern they may ask you more about it in an interview if the rest of the application is strong enough for an interview (so that is the true challenge!). Good luck! Keep us posted.
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