Re-taking the GMAT!

Congratulations on your decision to retake GMAT. The good news is that you are now one-attempt wiser and realize the seriousness of the GMAT. History is with you; statistics indicate that among the re-takers of GMAT, the overall average gain has been 33 points on a second testing. A word of caution too: nearly 25 percent of retakers of GMAT actually GMAT lower the second time than the first. If you are considering retaking GMAT, you clearly would not want to be a statistic in this category of students.

Re-taking GMAT is a complex topic and one needs to introspect what did not work the first time around. Reflect upon the following:

What was your medium of preparation?

online offline

In your earlier attempt(s), you would have either done self-study, attended classes, or relied on online-classes. You need to reflect on the suitability of that medium. For example, if you felt that you had a tendency of procrastination while doing self-study or attending online-classes, then switching to classroom coaching might be a solution. Similarly, if you missed the ability to spontaneously ask doubts and get clarification, classroom coaching would again come to your rescue. On the other hand, if your hectic schedule did not allow you to attend the classrom coaching religiously in the first attempt, self-study or online-classes would be a good option.

Were you fully prepared in the first attempt?

Exam Preparation

In your earlier attempt(s), you would've had access to a repository of study material (including conceptual text material and assignments). Were you able to do justice to the study material? If you just did not have time to complete the material, chances are that you were just not aware of a lot of concepts that are tested on the GMAT.

On the other hand, if you did religiously complete the entire course material, but still did not achieve the intended result, consider changing the study-material (a different book or a different course provider).

How much were you scoring in mocks?


As goes the saying: the proof of pudding is in the eating. In your earlier attempt(s), how much were you scoring in Official mocks? If your mock scores were nowhere close to your target GMAT score, you should have considered postponing the GMAT On the other hand, if you were hitting your target scores consistently in mocks but did not do so in the actual test, you need to analyze what went wrong on the day of the exam.

Was it a time-management issue or a conceptual clarity issue?

Time Concept

On the day of the exam, did you fall short of time in some section(s)? If yes, you already know the reason why you scored less. The strategy should then be to do more practice in a time-bound manner, so that you get a sense of time. On the other hand, if you did not fall short of time, but still scored less, it is clearly an issue of conceptual clarity. In that case, you need to start afresh and cover the bases. An ESR (Enhanced Score Report) can be quite handy in this analysis as well.

Don't let ego be the reason for retake


This might sound too extreme an obversvation, but our interactions with many retakers show that a lot of students who do not achieve the desired GMAT score, are already GMAT weary. After one (or multiple) attempts, they have mentally already give-up on the GMAT. However, their ego has not yet given up. They decide on retaking the GMAT, because their ego would just not let go.

So, the trigger for retake is not their determination to improve, but their ego to not let go. How else can the following statement from a student be explained:

"I have not been able to GMAT well in my two previous attempts. This time around, I desparately want to get a 700+. Frankly I don't even want to do MBA; but I want to do well on GMAT".

This ego reflects in the approach for preparation: such students religiously sit through the classes, because that's a recommendation / best-practice; they work on assignments because the instructor has prescribed those assignments!

Basically they do everything correct by the book. However, what they are subconsciously doing is that they are just going through the motions: the motions of sitting through the classes and the motions of working on the assignments. This approach is an antithesis to learning; the kind of incremental learning that should accrue with each new concept and with each wrong question, just doesn't come along; thise is no aha moment in the entire preparation for retake; consequently, preparation for retake is just an exercise of doing more of the same thing that they did in the first attempt. Since preparation is more of the same thing, the result is also more of the same thing: another failure.


While re-preparing, focus on your weak areas but don't ignore your strong areas. Honesty matters during your entire preparation. Be honest with yourself and keep benchmarkting yourself vis-a-vis your first attempt: are you learning new stuff that you did not know earlier; are the concepts that you already know, any clearer now; is the time management any better. Approach your preparation with enthusiasm and with vigor, and checkmate GMAT!

Be honest. Please.

If this is the case, then the entire strategy around re-preparing needs to be thought through. The strategy should be as much about more concept clarity as it should be about mental preparation to perform to your potential, on the day of the GMAT.