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GMAT® For Dummies®, 7th Edition with Online Practice

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “GMAT For Dummies 7th Edition Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Introduction

You’re merrily skimming through the admissions requirements for your favorite MBA programs when all of a sudden, you’re dealt a shocking blow. Your absolute top choice program — you’ll die if you don’t get in — requires that you take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). And you thought your days of speed-reading passages and solving for x were over.

Many MBA programs include the GMAT as an admissions requirement, so you’ll be in good company. But how do you prepare for such a comprehensive test? What are you going to do? Get out your spiral notebooks from undergraduate courses and sift through years’ worth of doodles? Many years may have gone by since you encountered a geometry problem, and we bet your grammar skills have gotten a little rusty since English 101.

Clearly, you need a readable, concisely structured resource. Well, you’ve come to the right place. GMAT For Dummies, 7th Edition with Online Practice, puts at your fingertips everything you need to know to conquer the GMAT. We give you complete math and grammar reviews and provide insights into how to avoid the pitfalls that the GMAT creators want you to fall into. We also try to make this book as enjoyable as a book that devotes itself to setting up equations and critiquing arguments can be.

About This Book

We suspect that you aren’t eagerly anticipating sitting through the GMAT, and you’re probably not looking forward to studying for it, either. Therefore, we’ve attempted to make the study process as painless as possible by giving you clearly written advice in a casual tone. We realize you have a bunch of things you’d rather be doing, so we’ve broken down the information into easily digested bites. If you have an extra hour before work or Pilates class, you can devour a chapter or even a particular section within a chapter. (If these eating metaphors are making you hungry, feel free to take a snack break.)

In this book, you can find

We’ve included all kinds of information to help you do your best on the GMAT!

You should find this book easily accessible, but a few things may require explanation. A few of the chapters may contain sidebars (a paragraph or two in a shaded box) with quirky bits of information that we think may interest you but aren’t essential to your performance on the GMAT. If you’re trying to save time, you can skip the sidebars.

Foolish Assumptions

Although we guess it’s possible that you picked up this book just because you have an insatiable love for math, grammar, and argument analysis, we’re betting it’s more likely that you’re reading this book particularly because you’ve been told you need to take the GMAT. (We have been praised for our startling ability to recognize the obvious!) And because we’re pretty astute, we’ve figured that this means that you intend to apply to MBA programs and probably are considering working toward a masters of business administration.

Generally, MBA programs are pretty selective, so we’re thinking that you’re a pretty motivated student. Some of you are fresh out of college and may have more recent experience with math and grammar. Others of you probably haven’t stepped into a classroom in over a decade but possess work skills and life experience that will help you maximize your GMAT score despite the time that’s passed since college.

If math and grammar are fresh in your mind and you just need to know what to expect when you arrive at the test site, this book has that information for you. If you’ve been out of school for a while, this book provides you with all the basics as well as advanced concepts to give you everything you need to know to excel on the GMAT.

Icons Used in This Book

One exciting feature of this book is the icons that highlight especially significant portions of the text. These little pictures in the margins alert you to areas where you should pay particularly close attention.

remember This icon highlights really important information that you should remember even after you close the book.

tip Throughout the book, we give you insights into how you can enhance your performance on the GMAT. The tips give you juicy timesavers and point out especially relevant concepts to keep in mind for the test.

warning Your world won’t fall apart if you ignore our warnings, but your score may suffer. Heed these cautionary pointers to avoid making careless mistakes that can cost you points.

example Whenever you see this icon in the text, you know you’re going to get to practice the particular area of instruction covered in that section with a question like one you may see on the test. Our examples include detailed explanations of how to most efficiently answer GMAT questions and avoid common pitfalls.

Beyond the Book

Be sure to check out the free Cheat Sheet for a handy guide that covers tips and tricks for answering questions in each section of the GMAT. To get this Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and enter “GMAT For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

The online practice that comes free with this book contains six full-length practice tests, so that you can really hone your GMAT skills! To gain access to the online practice, all you have to do is register. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Find your PIN access code located on the inside front cover of this book.
  2. Go to Dummies.com and click Activate Now.
  3. Find your product (GMAT For Dummies, 7th Edition with Online Practice) and then follow the on-screen prompts to activate your PIN.

Now you’re ready to go! You can go back to the program at testbanks.wiley.com as often as you want — simply log on with the username and password you created during your initial login. No need to enter the access code a second time.

Tip: If you have trouble with your PIN or can’t find it, contact Wiley Product Technical Support at 877-762-2974 or go to support.wiley.com.

Where to Go from Here

We know that everyone who uses this book has different strengths and weaknesses, so this book is designed for you to read in the way that best suits you. If you’re a math whiz and need to brush up only on your verbal skills, you can skim Part 4 and focus on Parts 1, 2, and 3. If you’ve been writing proposals every day for the last ten years, you can probably scan Part 3 and focus your attention on the math review in Part 4. Because the integrated-reasoning section differs so significantly from other standardized test questions, you’ll benefit from reading Part 5 regardless of your math prowess or verbal genius.

We suggest that you take a more thorough approach, however. Familiarize yourself with the general test-taking process in the first two chapters and then go through the complete GMAT review, starting with the verbal section and working your way through the analytical-writing, math, and integrated-reasoning sections. You can skim through information that you know more about by just reading the Tips and Warnings and working through the examples in those sections.

Some of our students like to take a diagnostic test before they study. This is a fancy way of saying that they take one of the full-length practice tests before they read the rest of the book. Taking a preview test shows you which questions you seem to cruise through and which areas need more work. After you’ve taken a practice exam, you can focus your study time on the question types that gave you the most trouble during the exam. Then, when you’ve finished reading through the rest of the book (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), you can take another practice test and compare your score to the one you got on the first test. This way, you can see just how much you improve with practice.

This book provides you with a bunch of practice tests, but you can never get enough practice. So, if after taking all the practice tests provided at dummies.com, you still crave more, visit the official GMAT website at www.mba.com and download the free GMATPrep software there. This software mimics the computerized format of the test and gives you practice on the types of mouse-clicking and eye-straining skills you need to succeed on the exam. That way, you can experience using the same software you’ll see on the exam.

We’re confident that if you devote a few hours a week for at least six weeks to practicing the skills and tips we provide for you in this book, you’ll do the best you can when you sit in front of that computer on GMAT test day. We wish you our best for your ultimate GMAT score!

Part 1

Getting Started with the GMAT

IN THIS PART …

Familiarize yourself with the format of the test.

Find out how to maximize your score by organizing your time and streamlining your approach.

Discover what you can and should do to gain admission to the business school of your choice.

Chapter 1

Getting the Lowdown on the GMAT

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Finding out how MBA programs use your GMAT score

check Deciding when to take the GMAT and knowing what to bring

check Figuring out the format of the GMAT

check Understanding how the GMAT is scored

check Considering whether you should retake the GMAT

Congratulations on deciding to take a significant step in your business career! More than 100 countries offer the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, 2,100 universities and organizations in 114 countries use GMAT to make admissions decisions. That said, you’re probably not taking the GMAT because you want to. In fact, you may not be looking forward to the experience at all!

The GMAT need not be a daunting ordeal. A little knowledge can help calm your nerves, so this chapter shows you how admissions programs use your test score and addresses the concerns you may have about the GMAT’s format and testing and scoring procedures.

Knowing Why the GMAT Is Important

If you’re reading this book, you’re probably thinking about applying to an MBA program. And if you’re applying to an MBA program, you probably need to take the GMAT. Many MBA programs require that you submit a GMAT score for the admissions process. (Some may require other tests or no test at all, so make sure you check each program’s admissions checklist.)

Your GMAT score gives the admissions committee another tool to use to assess your skills and compare you with other applicants. But if you’re seeking a career in business, you’re probably resigned to being continually assessed and compared. The GMAT doesn’t attempt to evaluate any particular subject area that you may have studied, but instead it gives admissions officers a reliable idea of how you’ll likely perform in the classes that make up a graduate business curriculum. Although the GMAT doesn’t rate your experience or motivation, it does provide an estimate of your academic preparation for graduate business studies.

remember Not every MBA applicant has the same undergraduate experience, but most applicants take a standardized test. Other admissions factors, like college grades, work experience, the admissions essay or essays, and a personal interview are important, but the GMAT is an admissions tool that admissions committees can use to directly compare you with other applicants.

The most selective schools primarily admit candidates with solid GMAT scores, and good scores will certainly strengthen your application to any program, but you shouldn’t feel discouraged if your practice tests don’t put you in the 90th percentile. Very few students achieve anything near a perfect score on the GMAT. Even if you don’t score as high as you want to, you undoubtedly have other strengths in your admissions profile, such as work experience, leadership ability, good college grades, motivation, and people skills. You may want to contact the admissions offices of the schools you’re interested in to see how much they emphasize the GMAT. That said, the GMAT is a very important factor in admissions, and because you’re required to take the test anyway, you should do everything you can to perform your best!

Timing It Perfectly: When to Take the GMAT (And What to Bring)

Which MBA programs to apply to isn’t the only decision you have to make. After you’ve figured out where you want to go, you have to make plans for the GMAT. You need to determine the best time to take the test and what to bring with you when you do. The following sections can help you out.

When to register for and take the GMAT

When is the best time to take the GMAT? With the computerized testing procedures, this question has become more interesting than it was in the days of paper-based tests. When the exam was a paper-and-pencil format with a test booklet and an answer sheet full of bubbles, you had a limited choice of possible test dates — about one every two months. Now you’ve got much more flexibility when choosing the date and time for taking the test. You can pick just about any time to sit down and click answer choices with your mouse.

Registering when you’re ready

The first step in the GMAT registration process is scheduling an appointment, but don’t put off making this appointment the way you’d put off calling the dentist (even though you’d probably like to avoid both!). Depending on the time of year, appointment times can go quickly. Usually, you have to wait at least a month for an open time. To determine what’s available, you can go to the official GMAT website at www.mba.com. From there, you can choose a testing location and find out what dates and times are available at that location. When you find a date and time you like, you can register online, over the phone, or by mail or fax.

The best time to take the GMAT is after you’ve had about four to six weeks of quality study time and during a period when you don’t have a lot of other things going on to distract you. Of course, if your MBA program application is due in four weeks, put this book down and schedule an appointment right away! Be sure to come right back, though. You need to start studying — and now! If you have more flexibility, you should still plan to take the GMAT as soon as you think you’ve studied sufficiently. All the following circumstances warrant taking the GMAT as soon as you can:

  • You want to start your MBA program right away. If you’re confident that you’d like to begin business school within the next few semesters, you should consider taking the GMAT in the near future. After you know your score, you’ll be better able to narrow down the business schools you want to apply to. Then you can focus on the other parts of your application, and you won’t have to worry about having an application due in four weeks and no GMAT score.
  • You’re considering attending business school. Maybe you don’t know whether you want to pursue an MBA. Even so, now’s a good time to take the GMAT. Your GMAT score may help you decide that you have the skills to succeed academically in graduate business school. You may think that you don’t have what it takes, but your performance on the GMAT may surprise you! If you do decide to apply to an MBA program, you’ll already have one key component of the application under wraps.
  • You’re about to earn (or have just earned) your bachelor’s degree. If you’re nearing graduation or have just graduated from college and you think you may want to get an MBA, it’s better to take the GMAT now than wait until later. You’re used to studying. You’re used to tests. And math and grammar concepts are probably as fresh on your mind as they’ll ever be.

    You don’t have to start an MBA program right away. Your GMAT scores are generally valid for up to five years, so you can take the test now and take advantage of your current skills as a student to get you into a great graduate program later.

remember Giving yourself about four to six weeks to study provides you with enough time to master the GMAT concepts but not so much time that you forget what you’ve studied by the time you sit for the test.

Scheduling for success

Whenever you register, you want to consider your own schedule when picking a test date and time. Take advantage of the flexibility allowed by the computer format. The GMAT is no longer just an 8 a.m. Saturday morning option. You can take the test every day of the week except Sunday, and, depending on the test center, you may be able to start at a variety of times. Many centers offer 8 a.m. testing times, but some have other options, even 6:30 at night — great for those night owls who consider 8 a.m. a good bedtime rather than a good exam time. You have a little bit of control over making the test fit into your life instead of having to make your life fit the test!

If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule an early test if you can help it. If you’re better able to handle a nonstop, two-and-a-half-hour barrage of questions — not to mention the analytical essay — after the sun hits its highest point in the sky, schedule your test for the afternoon or evening. By choosing the time that works for you, you’ll be able to comfortably approach the test instead of worrying whether you set your alarm. We’re guessing that you have enough to worry about in life as it is without the added stress of an inconvenient test time.

tip Check the GMAT website for the available testing times at the test centers near you. Then study for the test at the different available times of the day to see when you’re at your best. Schedule your test session for that time. Even if you have to take a few hours away from work or classes, being able to take the test at a time that’s best for you is worth it. And you may end up picking a test center based on its available times rather than its proximity to you.

While you’re thinking about the time that’s best for the test, you should think about days of the week as well. For some people, Saturday may be a good day for a test. For others, the weekend is the wrong time for that type of concentrated academic activity. If you’re used to taking the weekends off, scheduling the test during the week may make more sense for you.

remember Choosing the time and day to take the GMAT is primarily up to you. Be honest with yourself about your habits, preferences, and schedule, and pick a time and day when you’ll excel.

Things to take to the GMAT (and things to leave at home)

The most important thing you can bring to the GMAT is a positive attitude and a willingness to succeed. However, if you forget your admission voucher or your photo ID, you won’t get the chance to apply those qualities! In addition to the voucher and ID, you may bring a list of five schools where you’d like to have your scores sent. You can send your scores to up to five schools for free if you select those schools when entering your pretest information at the test site. (You can skip this step at the testing center if you provide your school information when you register online.) You can, of course, list fewer than five schools, but if you decide to send your scores to additional schools later, you’ll have to pay. If you can come up with five schools you’d like to apply to, you may as well send your scores for free.

tip Because you can take two optional eight-minute breaks, we recommend you bring along a quick snack, like a granola bar, and perhaps a bottle of water. You can’t take food or drink with you to the testing area, but you’re given a little locker that you can access during a break.

That’s really all you need to bring. You can’t use a calculator, and the test center provides a booklet of five noteboards and a special black pen (but no eraser), which you’re required to use instead of pencil and paper. You can ask for another booklet if you fill yours up.

Forming First Impressions: The Format of the GMAT

The GMAT is a standardized test, and by now in your academic career, you’re probably familiar with what that means: lots of questions to answer in a short period of time, no way to cram for or memorize answers, and very little chance of scoring 100 percent. The skills tested on the GMAT are those that leading business schools have decided are important for MBA students: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

The GMAT allows you to choose the order in which you take the four sections:

Pick the order that’s most comfortable for you. If you’re unsure, we suggest leaving the less important writing and integrated reasoning sections for the end when you’re more fatigued. Whether you take the quantitative or verbal first depends on which section is easier for you. You may want to lead with your strength or get the section you like least out of the way in the beginning.

Getting familiar with what the GMAT tests

Standardized tests are supposed to test your academic potential, not your knowledge of specific subjects. The GMAT focuses on the areas that admissions committees have found to be relevant to MBA programs. The sections that follow are an introduction to the four GMAT sections. We devote the majority of the rest of this book to telling you exactly how to approach each one.

Demonstrating your writing ability

You type an original analytical writing sample during the GMAT. The test gives you 30 minutes to compose and type an essay that analyzes an argument. You’re expected to write this essay in standard written English. Although you won’t know exactly the nature of the argument you’ll get on test day, examining previous essay prompts gives you adequate preparation for the type of task you’re bound to see.

remember The readers of your GMAT essay score you based on the overall quality of your ideas and your ability to organize, develop, express, and support those ideas.

Integrating your reasoning skills

The second GMAT section is a 30-minute integrated-reasoning test that examines your ability to read and evaluate charts, graphs, and other forms of presenting data. You’ll examine a variety of data representation and answer 12 questions based on the information.

The GMAT categorizes the four basic question types in this section as graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. Graphics interpretation and table analysis questions are self-explanatory: You interpret graphs and analyze tables — simple enough, right? The two-part analysis questions present a problem and related data provided in two columns. You choose a piece of information from each column to solve the problem. Multi-source reasoning questions provide you with a bunch of information from which you have to decide what piece or pieces of data actually give you what you need to know to solve the problem.

Quizzing your quantitative skills

The quantitative section is pretty similar to most standardized math sections except that it presents you with a different question format and tests your knowledge of statistics and probability. In the 37-question section, the GMAT tests your knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation with standard problem-solving questions. You’ll have to solve problems and choose the correct answer from five possible choices.

Additionally, GMAT data sufficiency questions present you with two statements and ask you to decide whether the problem can be solved by using the information provided by the first statement only, the second statement only, both statements, or neither statement. We show you exactly how to tackle these unusual math questions in Chapter 15.

Validating your verbal skills

The GMAT verbal section consists of 41 questions of three general types: the ubiquitous reading-comprehension problems, sentence-correction questions, and critical-reasoning questions. Reading comprehension requires you to answer questions about written passages on a number of different subjects. Sentence-correction questions test your ability to spot and correct writing errors. Critical-reasoning questions require you to analyze logical arguments and understand how to strengthen or weaken those arguments.

Understanding the computerized format

The quantitative-reasoning and verbal-reasoning sections on the computerized GMAT can be taken only in computer-adaptive test (CAT) format. The CAT adapts to your ability level by presenting you with questions of various difficulty, depending on how you answer previous questions. If you’re answering many questions correctly, the computer gives you harder questions as it seeks to find the limits of your impressive intellect. If you’re having a tough day and many of your answers are wrong, the computer will present you with easier questions as it seeks to find the correct level of difficulty for you.

With the CAT format, your score isn’t based solely on how many questions you get right and wrong but rather on the average difficulty of the questions you answer correctly. Theoretically, you could miss several questions and still get a very high score, so long as the questions you missed were among the most difficult available in the bank of questions. At the end of each section, the computer scores you based on your level of ability.

Answering in an orderly fashion

With the CAT format, the question order in the verbal and quantitative sections is different from the order on paper exams that have a test booklet and answer sheet. On the CAT, the first ten questions of the test are preselected for you, and the order of subsequent questions depends on how well you’ve answered the previous questions. So if you do well on the first ten questions, Question 11 will reflect your success by being more challenging. If you do poorly on the initial questions, you’ll get an easier Question 11. The program continues to take all previous questions into account as it feeds you question after question.

warning Perhaps the most important difference of the CAT format is that because each question is based on your answers to previous questions, you can’t go back to any question. You must answer each question as it comes. After you confirm your answer, it’s final. If you realize three questions later that you made a mistake, try not to worry about it. After all, your score is based on not only your number of right and wrong answers but also the difficulty of the questions.

We’re guessing you’ve figured out that the analytical writing assessment isn’t in CAT format because it’s not a multiple-choice test. But you may not know that the integrated-reasoning section also isn’t a CAT section. You receive questions in a preordained order and that order doesn’t change based on your answer selections. Like the CAT sections, though, after you’ve submitted an answer to a question, you can’t change your answer.

Observing time limits

Both the verbal and quantitative sections have a 75-minute time limit. Because the quantitative section has 37 questions, you have about two minutes to master each question. The verbal section has 41 questions, so you have a little less time to ponder those, about a minute and three-quarters per question. The integrated-reasoning section is shorter; you have 30 minutes to answer 12 questions, or about two and a half minutes per question. You don’t have unlimited time in the analytical writing section, either; you have to write the essay within 30 minutes.

tip These time limits have important implications for your test strategy on the quantitative and verbal sections. As we discuss later in this chapter, your GMAT score for these two sections depends on the number of questions you’re able to answer. If you run out of time and leave questions unanswered at the end of a section, you’ll essentially reduce your score by the number of questions you don’t answer. In Chapter 2, we present you with an efficient, workable strategy for managing your time and maximizing your score.

Honing your computer skills for the GMAT

Technically challenged, take heart! You need to have only minimal computer skills to take the computerized GMAT. In fact, the skills you need for the test are far less than those you’ll need while pursuing an MBA! Because you have to type your essays, you need basic word-processing skills. For the multiple-choice sections, you need to know how to select answers by using either the mouse or the keyboard.

Knowing Where You Stand: Scoring Considerations

Okay, you know the GMAT’s format and how many questions it has and so on. But what about what’s really important to you, the crucial final score? Probably very few people take standardized tests for fun, so we give you the lowdown on scoring in the following sections.

How the GMAT testers figure your score

remember Because the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, your verbal and quantitative scores aren’t based just on the number of questions you get right. The scores you earn are based on three factors:

  • The difficulty of the questions you answer: The questions become more difficult as you continue to answer correctly, so getting tough questions means you’re doing well on the test.
  • The number of questions you answer: If you don’t get to all the questions in the verbal and quantitative sections, your score is reduced by the proportion of questions you didn’t answer. So if you fail to answer 5 of the 37 quantitative questions, for example, your raw score would be reduced by 13 percent: after converting the raw score to the scaled measure, this loss may decrease your percentile rank from the 90th percentile to the 75th percentile.
  • The number of questions you answer correctly: In addition to scoring based on how difficult the questions are, the GMAT score also reflects your ability to answer those questions correctly.

GMAT essay readers determine your analytical writing assessment (AWA) score. College and university faculty members from different disciplines read your response to the essay prompt. However, one of your readers may be an automated essay-scoring machine programmed to evaluate the important elements of your essay. Two independent readers separately score your writing assignment on a scale from 0 to 6, with 6 being the top score. Your final score is the average of the scores from each of the readers.

If the two readers assigned to your writing task give you scores that differ by more than one point, a third reader is assigned to adjudicate. For example, if one reader gives you a 6 and the other gives you a 4, a third reader will also review your essay.

Your integrated-reasoning score ranges in whole numbers from 1 to 8, with 8 being the highest. Scores of 1 and 2 are rare and unusually low, and very few GMAT-takers score as high as 7 or 8. Generally, if you receive a score of 4, 5, or 6, you’ve done a respectable job answering the integrated-reasoning questions.

How the GMAT testers report your score

Your final GMAT score consists of separate verbal-reasoning, quantitative-reasoning, integrated-reasoning, and analytical writing assessment scores and a combined verbal and quantitative score. When you’re finished with the test — or when your time is up — the computer immediately calculates your verbal, quantitative, and integrated-reasoning scores and provides them to you in an unofficial score report. You’ll have a separate scaled score from 0 to 60 for the verbal and quantitative sections. The two scores are added together and converted to a scaled score ranging between 200 and 800. The mean total score falls slightly above 500.

You won’t see your analytical writing assessment scores immediately after the test. These scores are included in the official score report that’s either mailed to you or made available online about 20 days after you take the exam. So although you’ll be able to view your verbal, quantitative, integrated-reasoning, and total scores immediately after the test, you’ll need to wait three weeks to see how well you did on the AWA section.

When you do get your official score, the AWA score appears as a number between 0 and 6. This number is a scaled score that’s the average of the scores for all the readings of your response. The final score is rounded to the nearest half point, so a 4.8 average is reported as 5. The integrated-reasoning scaled score ranges between 1 and 8. Neither the AWA nor the integrated-reasoning score affect your total GMAT score in any way. Both scores are reported separately, and each MBA program decides how to use them in their admissions decisions.

Official scores, including the verbal-reasoning, quantitative-reasoning, total, integrated-reasoning, and AWA scores, are sent to the schools that you’ve requested receive them. The score reports they receive include all your scores, as well as a table showing the percentage of test-takers who scored below you. (For example, if your total score is 670, then about 89 percent of test-takers have a score lower than yours.) You don’t have to pay for the five schools you select before you take the test to receive your scores, and for a fee, you can request your scores be sent to any other school at any time up to five years after the test.

Why you should (almost) never cancel your GMAT score

Immediately after you conclude the GMAT and before the computer displays your scores, you’re given the option of canceling your scores. You may see this as a blessing if you’ve had a rough day at the computer. You may jump at the chance to get rid of all evidence of your verbal, quantitative, and writing struggles.

warning Canceling your scores is almost always a bad idea for several reasons:

  • People routinely overestimate or underestimate their performance on standardized tests. The GMAT isn’t a test on state capitals or chemical symbols, so knowing how well you did isn’t always easy. As long as you answer most of the questions and are able to focus reasonably well during the test, you’ll probably earn scores that aren’t too different from the average scores you’d get if you took the test repeatedly. People who retake the GMAT and other standardized tests rarely see their scores change significantly unless they’re initially unprepared to take the exam and later attempt it with significant preparation. You’re reading this book, so you don’t fall into that category of test-taker.
  • You may not have time to reschedule. It may take a while to reschedule the test. If your applications are due right away, you could miss an application deadline because you don’t have GMAT scores to submit.
  • You’ll never know how you did. If you cancel your scores, you’ll never know how you did or what areas you need to work on to improve your score if you decide to retake the test later.

A few circumstances exist in which you should consider canceling your scores. These situations aren’t based on your estimation of how you did, which may be inaccurate, but on extenuating factors:

  • You’re pretty darn ill during the test. Waking up on test day with a fever of 101 degrees or getting sick during the test may warrant canceling a GMAT score.
  • You were unable to concentrate during the test. Unusual personal difficulties, like a death in the family or the demise of a close relationship, could distract you to the point where you freeze up in the middle of the exam.
  • You left many questions unanswered. If you forget the time-management techniques we discuss in Chapter 2 and you leave quite a few questions unanswered in the verbal and quantitative sections, you may consider canceling your scores.

Repeating the Process: Retaking the GMAT

Because most programs consider only your top scores, retaking the GMAT may be in your best interest if you aren’t happy with your first score. The GMAT administrators let you take the test quite a few times if you want (that’s pretty big of them, considering you have to pay for it every time). If you do retake the GMAT, make sure you take the process and test seriously. You should show score improvement. A college will be much more impressed with a rising score than a falling one.

warning Many colleges may be turned off if they see that you’ve taken the GMAT more than two or three times. The key is to prepare to do your best on the first (or second) try.

remember Official GMAT reports contain scores for every time you take the test. So if you take the GMAT twice, both scores appear on your report. It’s up to the business program to decide how to use those scores. Some may take the higher score and some may take the average. Keep in mind that your new scores won’t automatically be sent to the recipients of previous scores, so you’ll need to reselect those programs when you retake the test.

Chapter 2

Maximizing Your Score on the GMAT