5 Steps To Crush GMAT Retakes

Took the GMAT and got a low score? Angela Guido is here to help. A bad GMAT score or even an average GMAT can be demoralizing, and it’s difficult to know what to do with a low GMAT score bringing down your applications, but don’t despair! 

From our blog – What GMAT score is good enough for you?

In this video, Angela’s going to walk you through the steps of contextualizing your bad GMAT score, which probably isn’t anywhere near as bad as you think it is, and working to improve it so the adcom can focus more on your personality and achievements.

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Do you want to know your odds of getting into business school in 60 seconds, then visit MBAmo.com

You prepared for weeks or months, you psyched yourself up, you went into game day all confident and ready and boom! You saw your test score and it just wasn't where you wanted to be. It happens to the best of us. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol and former GMAT instructor, and today I'm talking about how to bounce back from a bad GMAT or GRE.

So, What To Do With A Low Test Score?

OK. The first thing to do is to understand that bad business school test scores are not the end of the world. People get into top business schools with terrible scores all the time. In fact, how important that score is for you really depends on you. What is a bad GMAT score? If you're not sure what kind of GMAT or GRE score you really need or want to have for your target school, be sure to check out a related YouTube video linked below, where I talk about what GMAT or GRE score is good enough for you. And to get even more insight into where your score needs to be, head over to MBAmo.com and enter your target school and all the rest of your information and then play around with just the GMAT score part of MBAmo, and see how does your competitiveness at a given school change if your GMAT score changes and just kind of play around on the margins. And what you want to do is fiddle with that score enough so that you see. At what level will your entire profile be a match for your target school? The usefulness of MBAmo is that it puts the score in the broader context of everything else that's happening in your application. MBAmo is only measuring your baseline statistics. There's everything else about you: your achievements, your character, your personality. All of that will play a really meaningful role in your candidacy. But even in the context of just your baseline statistics, you'll still see that the test score really only plays a small role.

  1. So the very first thing you want to do after you get a test score that you don't want is to put it in the broader context of what you're trying to achieve and realize that it's still possible to achieve your dreams even without having the perfect test score.

  2. The second thing you really want to do is relax, take a step back. Don't go right back to studying, get a massage, take a two-day tech detox, you know, go hiking in the mountains. Do whatever you need to do to sort of clear your head and represents yourself, recenter yourself in who you are and what's great about you and what's great about life so that you can remember that in the end, this is still just a test. It's really important that you keep that perspective because you will drive yourself crazy if you think that the entire success of your future hinges on that one little number, I promise you it doesn't. Once you put the test into perspective, then it's time to get back to work. In my vast experience, teaching the GMAT, the most important thing that you can do to move the needle on your score is do actual practice problems from actual past tests written by the writers of the test. So for the GMAT, that's the GMAT Official Guide. For the GRE it's Official GRE problems published by ETS. There are a lot of test prep companies that make their own practice questions and while it can be useful to do those at times, they are always going to be different. They're going to be different from the questions written by the people who wrote the actual test. So spend time doing practice problems from the test writers themselves. And I recommend that you do them in small chunks, ten to twenty at a time, and force yourself to follow a timeline. So, time yourself ten minutes for five problems – this is this is GMAT timing – twenty minutes for ten problems and at the very most forty minutes for twenty problems. You don't want to be doing more than twenty problems in a sitting but really ten is right. Do ten problems at a time and force yourself to finish in twenty minutes. So that means that maybe you're working on the fifth problem and it's not really going well and the clock is ticking and you're nowhere and you feel like OK, it's been about two minutes. While on the actual test what you have to do at that point is guess and move on because it's computer adaptive. So do that even when you're practicing at home, guess and move on. Finish all ten problems in twenty minutes and then review them very deeply using whatever prep materials you've got, whatever test prep company you worked with, whatever books you use. Review your answers to the actual practice problems very deeply. If it took you twenty minutes to solve them, it should take you forty minutes to review them. And this way you're getting the most leverage out of your study in preparation for the tests. You're not learning the content of questions. You're learning how to understand questions, which is what you need, because every question on the test will be new.

  3. Finally, be really honest with yourself about whether you need professional help. Most people will do just fine on the test, either studying on their own if they have the right level of discipline or just taking a big class with a lot of people that meets online or in person many times and provides a little bit of extra structure. But if you're not achieving your potential score, if you know that you can do better than you're doing and you just can't figure out why you're not scoring at the level that you believe you're capable of achieving, that might be a very good moment to hire a tutor. Not all tutors are created equal. You really need someone who can help diagnose the problem and create a customized, tailored action plan for you to get to where you want to go. Basically, at this point – and this is especially true if everything else about your candidacy is in order and it's really just the test score that's going to determine whether you can go for higher ranked schools or lower rank schools – then you really owe it to yourself to give the test everything you've got at this point.

GMAT Percentiles Are Not the Be-All & End-All

So fear not, just because the test didn't go your way does not mean that the sky is falling or the world is ending or your MBA chances are completely destroyed. Just put the test back into context, reconnect with the joy of life and then take the right steps to move the needle on your score so that you can achieve your potential. You'll be really glad that you did. Thanks for joining #MBAMonday. I'll see you next week.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder of Career Protocol

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