Limits on Retaking the GMAT

GMAT Retake Policies

According to GMAC's policies on the GMAT, students may only take the GMAT five times within any one-year period. This policy does not refer to calendar years, but consecutive twelve-month periods (for example, if a student has taken the GMAT five times between March 1 and December 1 in the same calendar year, he or she must wait until March 1 of the following year to take the GMAT again). This policy is automatically enforced with online registration; the system will not allow students to register for more than the maximum number of test administrations within the given period. Test-takers registering by mail or phone can assume that the policy limiting retakes will be followed. Students are also not allowed to take the GMAT less than 16 calendar days after their most recent test attempt. Students who receive a perfect score of 800 are not permitted to take the test again for five years.

Comparison with Retake Policies for Other Graduate-Level Tests

GMAT retake policies compare favorably to those that apply to other graduate-level standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The computer-delivered GRE may be taken five times within any period of 365 consecutive days, with a mandatory 21-day waiting period between test attempts. The paper GRE may be taken as often as it is offered (three times per year: October, November, and February). The paper GRE is not available in the United States, and the 21-day waiting period between retakes applies. Students taking the LSAT are permitted only three test attempts in any two-year period, although exceptions are sometimes granted for extenuating circumstances. There are no limits on the number of times students may take the TOEFL, but there is a waiting period of 12 days between test attempts.

Retaking the GMAT to Meet Minimum Admission Standards

Most business schools do not officially have a minimum GMAT score for admission, but there are exceptions to this practice. The MBA program at Salem State University requires a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a minimum GMAT score of 400 in order to be considered for admission. Furthermore, this institution expects a GPA/GMAT index of 1000, which is calculated in the following fashion: (GPA * 200) + GMAT total score = GPA/GMAT index. An applicant with a GPA of 2.5 would need a GMAT score of 500 in order to meet the admissions index (2.5 * 200 = 500) at this school (which guarantees only consideration, not acceptance).The College of Business Administration at California State University, Sacramento uses a similar GMAT/GPA index ((GPA * 200) + GMAT), which mandates a minimum GPA of 2.5, a minimum GMAT of 500, and an index of 1060 (overall GPA) or 1100 (last 60 undergraduate credits). Students wishing to study at business schools that use these types of admissions procedures should probably retake the GMAT if they fall below the minimum numbers.

How Business Schools Consider GMAT Retakes in the Admissions Process

Most institutions will consider the highest GMAT score for applicants who have taken the GMAT multiple times. Harvard Business School, for example, allows its applicants to choose the GMAT score they wish to use for their applications (although all scores are reported, and the chosen scores must come from a single test). UCLA's Anderson School of Management is another example of a highly ranked business school that uses top GMAT scores rather than the average of all test attempts. These procedures are typical, and students are therefore not penalized for taking the GMAT two or three times. More than three test attempts, however, may be a red flag for some admissions officers.

GMAT Retakes and Merit Scholarships

GMAT standards for merit-based scholarships are usually higher than they are for acceptance, and this may be another reason for prospective graduate business students to consider retaking the GMAT. High-scoring students accepted to top business schools often receive scholarship offers from lower-ranked schools in order to improve the student profile of the latter. Most business schools offer scholarships strictly on merit rather than need, and many of these are explicitly linked to GMAT scores. MBA applicants to the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston qualify for the Bank of America Academic Success Scholarship with a GPA of 3.5 or above and GMAT scores of 600 or better (consideration for this scholarship is automatic and does not require a separate application). The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is another institution that automatically evaluates students for merit scholarships, based on "academic performance, GMAT scores, professional experience, and application strength." Students able to improve their performance through GMAT retakes often receive direct financial benefits for doing so.