How many times should one take the GMAT? : General GMAT Questions and Strategies
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# How many times should one take the GMAT?

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How many times should one take the GMAT? [#permalink]

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22 Jan 2007, 11:23
 I'm topping this thread because there are quite a few good discussions on this issue here. I recommend everybody get what he/she needs from this thread, and make his/her own judgment.

Hong
-------------

Rhyme has a "sticky" posted in the B-School Application board which contains an interesting PDF written by someone who worked in admissions at a top school.

Most of the document is essay-writing advice, but at the end the writer brings up something that I wasn't aware of: When your GMAT scores are reported to schools, the ad-coms can see ALL of your GMAT scores. So even though a school says they "only consider your best score," that doesn't mean that they don't see the other scores, they do. The writer goes on to talk about the impression given by a person who has taken a GMAT many, many times. The gist of what he/she says is that a person who takes the GMAT once and gets a 660 might look more impressive than someone who takes it four times and gets a 620, 630, 660, and 700.

In a lot of the discussions on these boards people seem to approach the GMAT with the attitude, "Well I'll study for a month and give it a whirl, and if I don't hit my target score then I'll really hunker down and study hard and take it again."

So for those of you just starting to get your GMAT strategy together, keep in mind that schools do in fact (according to the document I reference above) see all of your scores, and if you take it too many times it may water down the impressiveness of whatever score you end up with.

If you think about it from an ad-com's perspective, they basically view the GMAT as something of an IQ test, and if somebody's IQ number is getting incrementally better, the assumption is that they're getting better at taking the IQ test, not that their actual IQ is going up. Whereas a one-time IQ test stands alone as the only data-point for a person's IQ, so I think it's a good idea to really work hard and bust your tail to make that first GMAT really great, and hopefully the only one you have to take.
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22 Jan 2007, 14:30
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I've read the document and it certainly seems to be from a credible source, but I disagree with his/her (and your) analysis. I would contend that to get over 700 you need to be pretty smart regardless of how many times you take the test, maybe not Stephen Hawking smart - but certainly as smart or smarter than most of the people I meet in the ibank I work in. Certainly smart enough to succeed in any MBA programme.

Most (caveat: not all) super IQ 780 GMAT types make good engineers and spreadsheet monkeys, not dynamic determined business leaders. If there is one thing that characterises self made millionaires it is incredible drive and ambition. The kind of drive that forces people to spend a year improving their GMAT score from 450 to 700. If I were to pick a wingman for a future business startup, I would pick someone with this drive every time.

Someone with a 150 IQ and no drive will get nowhere, but someone with an average IQ and incredible drive has the potential to achieve anything they want.

Just my 2c.
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28 Jan 2007, 09:20
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Wow! I am reading some of these comments.. And I must say I am a little brought down by the comments (albeit there are some encouraging ones). I am giving the exam the 4th time. Not giving up... I have mediocre GPAs but an excellent professional work experience.

Not sure if I should dare to dream that I can make it to a top notch business school or should I just give up... I am sure some of you are high 600s and low 700s GMAT score students. I have seen some students who have scored 720 and 730 in their first attempt in GMAT and have cracked some schools like Chicago and Duke. But looking at their personality in day to day life I would not give them more than a 2 or 3 on a scale of 10. Talking skills, general smartness etc. I am sure they are good exam takers and good bookworms... But if that is what the business schools are looking for in a candidate then I think the cream of the student body is outside the business school and not in the classroom (accepted students)!

Sounds Like I should sit down and do a reality check on myself! Should I spend so much time and energy giving such a stupid exam or should I spend some quality time with my wife! (she has been extremely patient!).

Thanks Guys!!!!
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09 Feb 2007, 08:09
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Great discussions here. I would like to add my two cents too.

One of the most important thing that we are taught as an MBA is that it is the result that matters. In the business world, people do assign a very heavy weight to hard working attitude and persistance. However, you have to be able to deliver in the end.

It is not sufficient to do you best to study and prepare, and then go in there and try your luck when time is up. And if the result is not as good as you expected, you come back and repeat the process and try your luck a second time some time later. This is NOT the correct approach.

You should have a reasonable estimate about what you can achieve BEFORE you take the test. In other words, you need a measurement. If you have been getting 550s in your practise exams, don't be surprised that your real score is kind of far away from 700. If you don't know how much you would score, because you have never taken a full length (AWA included) practise exam, then you shouldn't go there and take the real test.

I can't stress enough the importance of the "measurement". Know where you want to be (your target score) and where you are (your practise score) is the only way to solve many people's puzzle about how many times one should take GMAT. When somebody can consistently score about 50 points higher than his/her target score, then I would say he/she is ready to take the test. In that case, if the real score is a surprise, then it warrents careful examination about what went wrong. Is it the anxiousness? Time management? etc. Then you can work on these specific targets and take a second shot.

For people who have taken many times of GMAT without significant improvement, my advise is don't hurry in and take another shot. You need to sit back and look at the process you have been carrying, and try to find a fix before you test again. When I say fix I mean you have to be sure that it does fix your problem. You have to be able to show significant improvement in your practises, not just study 24 hours a day and 7 days a week without knowing what good it did for you. GMAT is not a test of how hard you can work and how long you can persist. It is a test of how much you can solve problems.

The take away from this long post, is that the real issue is not how many times one should take GMAT. The real issue is whether you know where you stand before you take the test.
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30 Mar 2007, 22:36
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fresinha12 wrote:
you are talking about exceptions rather than the norm...

In life, luck is not on YOUR SIDE

OasisNYK wrote:
Do you discount the Denver Bronco's 2 Superboels because it took them several tried to win?

Is Michael Jordan less of a basketball player because he was cut from the High School team once?

Did the chicken come before the egg?

Its all subjective - each case is different, and there is no way to know how the ADCOM will view it. My guess would be, if you ahve multiple attempts you need to do a good job of spinning it to the ADCOM and you will be fine.

OASYSNYK - Your thread somehow appeared pretty inspirational. Fresinha - in life if luck is not on our side then those guys mentioned by OASISNYK would not have had a life at all! But they did. So can we perhaps! And if it's just a thought I don't mind - it's still a beautiful thing to imagine....

I don't know whose idea it was to start a thread like this - I have taken GMAT 4 times already (630, 680, 670, 660). What do you think I am doing now on this forum? I am a 30 year old individual with an IT background - from a premier engineering institute in India. Reasonably well educated, good background etc.

Plus - i have a big attitude as well. As naive and idiotic as it may sound, I'm ready to discount the last two of my previous attempts. Let me just put it this way-the only serious attempts were the first and the second. I improved my score from 630 to 680. In the attempt that fetched me 680 I was reasonably confident I would score 700+. But well oh well! it's GMAT.

Then came a break of about 2 years. Meanwhile I went through the usual ups and downs of life. Got married, then some family issues kicked in, I moved out of India and went back to US (where I have taken 3 of my 4 attempts) and decided I wanted to take the GMAT a third time. I scored 670 and decided to call it quits right then. Then in 2005 I came back to India because my father needed me.

I Lost my father to a debilitating renal disease. Went from pillar to post getting him treated. Spent money. Experienced toil, frustration and suicidal tendencies (well I'll never do that..but a thought nonetheless did occur to me once).

My fourth attempt which fetched me 660 was really stressful. I had started "preparing" in June of 2006 when I had realized I wanted to take it again. My father was around then. He had been sticking on pretty OK and so I thought may be the worst was over and started frequenting GMATCLUB again.

I thought if all goes well I would take it in August 06. And then in July - I had to leave everything. Father fell ill again. He passed away on Aug 29, 2006. I did the final rites and came back to my professional work place in Mid September.

Obviously, I couldn't concentrate on a thing for about the next month and a half. On and off GMAT would haunt me. I don't know why. But it would keep sticking its neck one way or the other at some point or the other. I would actually try to ignore it. Then towards Oct end I could bear it no longer. I said to myself come on bro..give it a chance.

You all can see I am an emotional person (may be a tad more than is normal). Anyway got the test scheduled for Dec 1st 2006 and came out with the dullest score of my life - 660.

Ok, so what did go wrong? I have never considered myself lacking in brains or anything like that. I am good. I've got reasonably good verbal skills (but that's obviously debatable on a public forum and given my dismal GMAT background) and Math obviously has never never ever ever been a problem. I have scored consistently above 47 in all my GMAT attempts. It's verbal that follows a disturbed cycle. English is not my native tougue as most of you would have fathomed anyway.

So where am I? Who the hell am I? What the heck do I think of myself? Are these familiar questions? Do they ring a bell?

Ok so here we are fighting our own battles sitting smug in the thought we'll try and try again till we succeed as I am sure most of my Indian contemporaries would have been taught as a child. In India right from our childhood we are conditioned to fight for an existence. When I say " we " I mean most of the Indians in general have to fight it without a choice. Not that people in other countries don't but with our massive population we are a wee-bit disadvantaged.

And then, someone comes along and says - guess what the more the number of attempt the more of an Idiot you appear to the adcoms. You know what I don't think I care two hoots for what the adcoms think. I think this whole MBA thing is just about making money and nothing else anway. Give me ONE Harvard guy that made a huge difference.. ok let's not talk about exceptions but pray tell me what these classy universities the world over are producing? And then how about ordinary heroes from ordinary backgrounds and ordinary moores? Never mind. That's my belief and still I am trying to get into a premiere B school. Sounds paradoxical alright - but the point I am trying to make is if you don't get through so what?

I appreciate GMAT however for a different reason though. in India there's a popular saying that the most beautiful looking of the flowers blossoms in the dirtiest of environs. And GMAT also - all this madness notwithstanding - on an extremely personal level challenges you to perform. Challenges you to discipline yourself and look it in the eye and say I'll succeed no matter the vicissitudes accompanying the preparation. I am a cigarette addict and I can tell you that being one can be severely debilitating not just from a pure health standpoint but also from an exam prep standpoint. The exam drains perfectly healthy people forget about tobacco addicts. And yet I fight. I will fight. I will kick the butt for the exam because I love the exam very much. Only I think that what I've just said is a load of crap - it's not the exam that I love so much - it's the self-created image that I am brilliant and can score a 780 no less that goads me to kick the butt pulverize the challenge - the gauntlet that GMAT throws. Of course you all know it's a quirky exam.

So out of all this madness if you can find a place for yourself - if you can connect with what it is YOU aspire for and not what you are conditioned to aspire for you would have made your life worth living. I, as your GMAT buddy, challenge you to this. I challenge you to challenge yourself and give it a personal shot.

Lemme tell you all this - and this I say as if I am a sage from the mountains - No one knows what they (the right honorable admission committee folks) want. No one I repeat. We can follow trends, we can understand patterns - but there will be a counter-example for every example one may produce. So there will be a guy who would rise from the ashes and there would be a guy who would go into the ashes. Plain and simple.

You just gotta give it what you have in whatever quantity you have. If you believe in it you'll get it no matter what. This may sound a bit high falutin - but that's what I believe in.

My dad used to say quoting someone - I've ever been a fighter, so ONE fight more; the Best but NOT the LAST!

In the ultimate eventuality however remember to be calm and patient - because sometimes no matter how hard you try, things JUST don't turn out the way you expect them to be. This I say from experience as I'm sure most of you would have experienced anyway.

I didn't intend to write such a long post but once I started I couldn't hold myself back.

It's ok perhaps to crib once in a while..

I love you all and you all be good and keep fighting and don't worry about what THEY think! It's more important what YOU think!

Thank you for your patience if you are reading this line AND provided you've read the previous ones as well ))))
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Re: How many times should one take the GMAT? [#permalink]

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08 Jul 2009, 07:31
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I read through most of this thread, and I'm definitely in the "one and done" camp. I can't help but think that adcoms would discount your high score if, for example, you followed up your test with a lower score. In my opinion you should prepare adequately, take the test once, perform well, and make sure to score in the top range of your practice scores.
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Re: How many times should one take the GMAT? [#permalink]

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17 Jan 2012, 20:07
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With the GMAT - ideally you want to get it out of the way. It's one of lots of data points. You want to show your best but should not dwell on it for too long. Twice is fine but don't keep taking the test until you score the maximum potential that you think you deserve.

Just aim for your target score for your school / applicant profile pool and move on.

Remember, it's about effectiveness and efficiency.
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Re: How many times should one take the GMAT? [#permalink]

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05 Feb 2012, 16:40
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I agree with the last post. Even the columbia adcom in one of the youtube videos says that it doesn't matter how many times you take it and that only the HIGHEST SCORE is considered with the rest of your application. If Gmat is not a measure of IQ then frankly it doesnt really matter if your earlier averages are lower than your latest score even if it's by luck. My personal opinion. What we do know is that schools are hell bent on seeing a good GMAT score in majority of the cases because thats what move rankings.
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Re: How many times should one take the GMAT? [#permalink]

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30 Jun 2012, 12:42
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All these arguments are invalid to admission counselors. Its Ultimatly, the schools choice to accept the gmat as a predictor, and its your job as the applicant to submit your best application, better said, best overall application, work experience, number of years in a leadership role, how many people have you managed and did you do good job at it? At the end of the day, mba programs are looking for leaders, not just great standarized test takers. great that you can get a 760 on the gmat but can you lead others or help others in obtaining that same score, are you the type that will help someone get there or watch someone fail in life, are you the type that watches someone fall, and you don't have the decency to give them a hand? You know who you are! You will make an excellent spreadsheet monkey!

Schools ask for LOR for this reasons, they are sick of scumbag blood sucking leaches that drain the life of people, stay away from high MBA programs, I don't want to see you, or be near you! Unless you give a crap about leading, innovating, and creating change, and helping your classmates, you have no reason in an MBA program, go to a small shitty state school, that school is for you.

This is why B schools evaluate an overall application, and completly throws away the argument that if you get a high gmat score your mostlikely to enter the program. Who cares if you get a high GMAT score? Seriously, it does not, not by a long shot. If your a scumbag in life, you'll most likely sound like on on paper. MBA Programs are looking for people who are sincere, authentic and honest, and give a shit, and own up to who they are as individuals, and you can apply putting a great essay, under 1,000 words, as to why they should choose you, if you got a 530? So be it, apply. Don't be discouraged. Be more than encouraged to submit a better essay, and better recommendations.

I know a HBS alum that just graduated this last may, he told me he took the exam like 4 times, that automactically debunks the myth of retaking it over and over will hurt you overall, especially coming from a guy that worked directly as a admission counselor his second year of his MBA program.

Business schools want leaders, not followers, people who can make a difference. I bet someone who gets a 580 can get into HBS or Stanford, or Columbia, with great leadership potential awesome essays and 2 great letters of recom, it might not be the best of applications, but it's still worth it to apply because if these people are human, they will see through a simple score that is used to predict a likelihood of success of passing all his/her classes.

If your scoring low, don't be discouraged on the exam, try, and try again, if you choose to stop at your higher shift your focus on essays, and letters of recom. If you can retake the gmat and do better power to you, and you should if you want to, but you should move forward to apply, don't let the psychology of an exam bother your dreams, challenges will always make you stumble in life, it's up to you to overcome those challenges, especially if you don't, you'll never know their reponse, and you'll be left with a lingering could of, should of, would of.
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22 Jan 2007, 14:39
londonluddite wrote:
Most (caveat: not all) super IQ 780 GMAT types make good engineers and spreadsheet monkeys, not dynamic determined business leaders. If there is one thing that characterises self made millionaires it is incredible drive and ambition. The kind of drive that forces people to spend a year improving their GMAT score from 450 to 700. If I were to pick a wingman for a future business startup, I would pick someone with this drive every time.

Someone with a 150 IQ and no drive will get nowhere, but someone with an average IQ and incredible drive has the potential to achieve anything they want.

Just my 2c.

can't agree more on this. and it really all depends... depends on what schools you're applying and who is the person that looks at your application. i think there are really a lot of factors in your application overall and you can justify the number of the attempts, especially when the improvement is quite dramatic.
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22 Jan 2007, 14:40
I think that is poor advice, to only take the GMAT one time. There are many situations where taking it again will in fact help you.

Now, if someone does take it 4+ times with just one higher score, Adcoms will understandably conclude that the one high score was an outlier. Anyone might get lucky after a bunch of tries so if someone scores 600, 620, 630, 630, 720, then the Adcome might conclude that the last score was just luck, and they might be right.

But I believe the prevailing thought is that it Adcoms will not hold it against you if you take the GMAT 2 or 3 times. Based on my own observations, I think it is worth taking the GMAT a 2nd time if you improve by 30 or more points. It's also worth taking again if you are not within the normal range of accepted students. It's probably OK to take the GMAT a 3rd time if you show a trend of improvement and a good score that final time.

I believe that if you take the exam more than 3 times, you really need to describe why your improvement should bear weight. Otherwise, Adcoms will assume that it's a natural result of test-taking experience and/or luck.

But I believe most Adcoms are genuine when they say that they will look at the highest score if you take it 2 or 3 times.
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23 Jan 2007, 03:50
lets not forget what GMAT really is: it is a statistical predictor of success in first year graduate business school. no more. no less. it has nothing to do with IQ, and it is not directly measure any of your abilities.

according to GMAC the standard error of your result is 29 points. which means that in about 1/3 of the cases you can get up to 29 points more than your actual statistical predictor grade, and in 1/3 of the cases you may get up to 29 points less than your "real ability". therefore, in my view any improvement of 50 points or less has little meaning (statistically).

according to GMAC, retaking the test should not affect your score statistically. i.e. you would get grades that are in the area of your real ability with respect to the standard error of this estimator.

given this, if i were an adcom i'd look at the average of the test scores, regardless of their number.

however there is one thing that GMAC has overlooked: people do get better, people can learn new stuff and improve their skillls. they may do it by studying to the gmat (most of us would admit that they did learn som new math principles when studying to gmat) or they may do it by studying something else.
in fact, since GMAT is a good predictor of success in Bschool... the best way to improve your score is to study skills that improve your chances of success.... the GMAT test will probably reflect that somehow. this is probably why, in my opinion, adcoms do, in fact, looking at the maximum score.

and one other thing....
Quote:
Most (caveat: not all) super IQ 780 GMAT types make good engineers and spreadsheet monkeys, not dynamic determined business leaders. If there is one thing that characterises self made millionaires it is incredible drive and ambition. The kind of drive that forces people to spend a year improving their GMAT score from 450 to 700. If I were to pick a wingman for a future business startup, I would pick someone with this drive every time.

while i agree that drive, determination and ambition are very important traits of a business leader, choosing the right targets to "use" those is even more important. in my view spending a year to improve your GMAT directly (i.e. not by improving your general skills) is not choosing the target wisely. it shows, in my view, lack of perspective. i don't mean that you shouldn't try to improve it if you need to.... but i wouldn't spend a year doing so, and saying this is my main target. also.... self awareness is another personal trait which is needed by leaders. when you take the GMAT you probably roughly know what your score would be. you can avoid taking it if you think you are not prepared enough. retaking GMAT again and again might be interpreted as lack of that self-awareness. this is probably true, as pelihu noted, when you retake more than 3-4 times.
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23 Jan 2007, 04:01
just a thought..i am guessing people who repeatedly take gmat..actually artifically affect the percentile score..

how much do adcoms really look at the percentile score ?
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23 Jan 2007, 06:53
I guess my the subject line I selected for my original post was probably a little too dramatic, because I didnt' mean that there is never an instance when a person should take the GMAT more than once. What I meant was two things (1) You shouldn't have the attitude that the first GMAT you take can be a "dry run" or a "test drive" to see how you do, and (2) Hobbit said it very well, you shouldn't devote an inordinate amount of time to taking the GMAT.

I agree with others that you want people with drive and other intangibles, but to me spending a year limping your way to a 700 doesn't show that a person has their priorities straight. Look at these two hypothetical profiles and think about what an ad-com might infer:

Person #1
GMAT #1 January of 2006 620
GMAT #2 April of 2006 650
GMAT #3 September of 2006 640
GMAT #4 December of 2006 690

Person #2
GMAT #1 February of 2006 650

And when I say that the GMAT functions as an IQ test, I don't literally mean an "Intelligent Quotient" test in the sense of the very specific test that goes by that name, I mean that the GMAT is used by ad-coms as measurement of a person's intelligence. Whether you agree or disagree with how valid the correlation is between a person's intelligence and the GMAT doesn't really matter, that's what ad-coms use it for. They don't use it to gauge how a person progresses over time. They would not look at Person #1 above and think "Wow, this guy really knows how to study, he took a year of his life and really improved his score. Must be a hard-worker with a lot of drive." They would look and say, "Hm, this person scores around a 650, probably a bright guy but why the he!! did he waste a year of his life retaking this thing?"
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23 Jan 2007, 12:58
Shouldn't hard work, ambition and diligence be evinced by preparing and executing well on your first gmat attempt? You only get one chance to make a first impression. It's analogous in business to preparing an IPO and executing the day it sells. It's analogous to life. Some people perform when it counts and some people don't.

I don't think the gmat is as simple as "Okay, applicant is in the range so it's ok." I'm sure they use some numerical system in conjunction with your gpa to come up with a score. But then again, I don't think they stress the gmat as much as applicants do simply because many people have good scores.

On a side note, I have a friend with a 690/top 5% gpa/2 yrs consulting/family of doctors who got accepted at Chicago. Another friend who's a second year at Stern who had 670, 640, 750/mediocre gpa (lib arts)/2 yrs WE

Also, I understand that bschools want to boost their gmat avg so they don't care how many times you took the test. But if you have two people with comparable scores, with one who took it once and the other who took it multiple times, I think the school will look more favorably at the one timer.

Last edited by kidderek on 28 Jan 2007, 21:45, edited 1 time in total.
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27 Jan 2007, 20:03
londonluddite wrote:
Most (caveat: not all) super IQ 780 GMAT types make good engineers and spreadsheet monkeys, not dynamic determined business leaders. If there is one thing that characterises self made millionaires it is incredible drive and ambition. The kind of drive that forces people to spend a year improving their GMAT score from 450 to 700. If I were to pick a wingman for a future business startup, I would pick someone with this drive every time.

Wow...where do I begin?

I doubt that the majority of people that score 780 on the GMAT and have IQs of 160+ are engineers and "spreadsheet monkeys". I mean, seriously. What does it take to score a 780 on the GMAT? Intelligence, willingness to prepare, and ability to work well under pressure, among other things. These are not characteristics of your typical spreadsheet monkey.

There isn't just one characteristic (or even two, since you actually mentioned two ) that self-made millionaires have - there are dozens. Drive and ambition are great, but if I had a nickel for everyone out there with drive and ambition that can't afford to pay rent, I would be a self-made millionaire.

If it took someone a year to improve their score from 450 to 700, I would admire his determination, but wonder why he got a 450 in the first place. And I sure as hell wouldn't want him as my CEO (shareholders want results NOW, they don't admire the fact that their CEO is "really trying hard" and will probably improve once he has enough time to study).

I'm picking on you and I apologize if you take offense, but I think you made some really poor generalizations and arguments there.

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28 Jan 2007, 14:38
Axl_Oz,

I didn't at all mean to discourage anyone from improving their GMAT score. Everyone's unique situation needs to be addressed on an individual basis.

I'm not passing judgement on people who take the test multiple times at all. All I'm saying is that I was NOT aware until recently that schools see ALL of an applicants GMAT tests. I thought that when a school says, "We only consider your highest GMAT score," they meant they only saw one score. But if they in fact see all of a candidate's scores, and the dates when the tests were taken, that kind of tells a story, which can't help but have an effect on the reviewer's opinion. If I was a reviewer and I was comparing one person who took it once and got a 640, and then someone else who took it three times and got a 590, 630, 660 -- I would be inclined to think better of the person who just took it once and got on with their life and the other important parts of their application.
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29 Jan 2007, 08:54
I agree with the OP.

Because B schools say they only take the highest score, more applicants take the test nonchalantly.

For statisticaly purposes, they only take the highest scores and maybe even consider the highest score when judging applicants, but those other scores are also in fine print.

I know Berkeley asks how many times you take the test. They also ask for your 2 highest scores.
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29 Jan 2007, 10:12
I was told that admissions doesn't even look at the official score report until after they have decided to admit you. Then they verify that the score you listed was accurate, but that they use what you listed on your application as a basis for admit.
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29 Jan 2007, 10:15
As for me, I'm happy I retook it.
I had my 1st try on Dec 2004 and got a 620, then Feb 2005 600 (bummer), and now, Dec 2006 700.
Maybe adcoms don't like it that much, but I believe it was a great improvement.
29 Jan 2007, 10:15

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