The GMAT and the Law of Diminishing Returns

By - Dec 21, 00:58 AM Comments [0]

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At what point does studying do more harm than good?

There is a time in every applicant's life where they need to look long and hard at their GMAT score and ask: Is my GMAT score high enough to get me into my schools of choice, or should I retake the GMAT?

You should take the GMAT to achieve your highest possible score, but beware of the following: the law of diminishing returns applies to the GMAT.

Why Too Much Effort Doesn't Always Pay Off

The classic economic theory of diminishing returns 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 is Too Many Attempts?

How many times should you retake the exam? At what point do you become a serial test taker?

When I was an admissions dean and director, I liked to see candidates take the test 2-3 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, or eight times did negatively impact that way I looked at the candidate.

The GMAT isn't Everything!

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 admissions board an indication of leadership, impact, business skills, or fit. 

Bottom Line

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.

Watch our webinar and learn Your 3-Part Game Plan to Dominate the GMAT

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.


Related Resources:

Get Accepted To Top B-Schools With Low Stats [Free on-demand webinar]
• Should You Retake The GMAT? [Short Video]
• Should You Retake the GMAT Exam?

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