Should I retake the GMAT (730)

Hi -

Two questions from me:
- Is it worth retaking the GMAT and trying to get closer to 750?
- If I didn't retake and went with my score below (730), what are my chances?

Profile:
- 26 year old male
- White
- Top 10% of the class at a Top 5 international university (LSE for Political Science)

Professional Experience:
- 3.5 years at Big 4 consulting. First on the grad scheme (as a Level 1), and then in the strategy team as a Level 2
- 1 year at a small (in headcount) European strategy boutique as a Level 3
- Focussed on transport / mobility strategy (cars, trains etc.)
- Good experience with office leadership (mentoring, internal roles, interviewing candidates etc.)

GMAT:
- 730 overall
- 49 Q
- 40 V
- 6 IR
- 6 AWA

Post MBA objectives:
- Move into infrastructure / transport finance in the short term (in NY or Chicago)
- Start my own advisory firm in the medium / long term. Focussed on the same areas as above

Target schools:
- Reach: H / S / W
- Core: Booth, MIT, CBS, LBS, Kellogg

Hope this is clear.
Any hints or tips would be great.
Thanks!

Comments (17)

Best Response
Mar 28, 2018

Well to start off, your 730 GMAT approximately equal to or higher than the average at every school except Stanford (737 average). So your score alone should not exclude you from any of the schools you listed. While it never hurts to have a higher score, I don't think you necessarily need one. The rest of your profile sounds strong - solid undergrad school/GPA/work experience. The only aspect you didn't mention is community involvement. So to answer your second question, if you submit with the 730 I think you should have a good chance at most of the schools you listed, especially the "core" ones. The answer to your first question is more difficult - it depends on how much time you have before you plan on applying and if you do have time, if it can be better spent than studying for the GMAT. Also, there's no guarantee that you'll score higher the second time around. GMAC actually published data showing the average trend in score over multiple attempts, and it showed that the higher score you started out with, the less likely you are to increase it.

    • 2
Mar 29, 2018

Thanks!

Regarding community involvement, it's pretty minimal outside of my workplace.

Inside the workplace, I've done a lot (mostly of the standard consulting stuff):

  • Been a mentor to someone (currently have 2 mentees)
  • Have internal positions of responsibility (conduct interviews for senior / graduate hires, head of office IT)

Outside of that, I've been involved with pro-bono consulting work - and then done a bit of mentoring work on the back of that with some of the team members (mostly just interview advice / prep)

I guess a follow up question is whether that's enough to be substantial?

Mar 29, 2018

I don't think mentoring co-workers counts as community involvement. Maybe if it is part of some official program your company has, but that still wouldn't be particularly significant. Not sure what kind of pro-bono consulting you did, but maybe you can talk that up. If you really want something that would be viewed as more substantial, try volunteering regularly somewhere or mentoring underprivileged children. Some ideas could be a soup kitchen, food pantry, animal shelter, helping the elderly, etc. I personally aimed for 100+ hours/year volunteering before I applied to school. If you did 104 hours, that's only 2/week. Very realistic in my mind.

    • 1
Mar 28, 2018

From an October 2011 article

Mar 29, 2018

Thanks! Interesting that there is a slight gain (although not enough to be significant).

I guess also that there is a big difference between high 700s and low 700 scores. People who retake scores in the high 700s (GMAT tutors spring to mind) might have a much higher chance of lowering their score?

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Mar 29, 2018

Yes, I'm sure the crazy people who got a 750+ and still retook the test skew that data set, but I bet that the vast majority of re-takers in the 700-800 range were 730 or less.

Mar 28, 2018

When are you planning to apply? R2 decisions are done for most schools already, so unless you are aiming for the late rounds, I'd suggest waiting a year.

In that case, you have lots of time. If you think you can score 750+, go for it. If not, there are better uses of your time. Getting a 750 will not help you out much. However, getting a 780 might.

Mar 29, 2018

I was looking to apply for R1 in October this year - so would have some time to retake if I pushed myself.

In terms of max possible grades - I think I could hit 750 with a bit of luck....beyond that, I wonder whether it would be worth the extra time investment (especially since I have a relatively full on job at the moment)

Mar 29, 2018

In that case, I would not re-take it. 750 vs. 730 is negligible.

Mar 28, 2018

Hi Londonconsultant2018,

A higher GMAT never hurt anyone. However, given your excellent grades, strong work experience, and international exposure, I doubt retaking is a great use of your time -- unless you believe you can raise your score with little effort.

You currently have a competitive profile for your target programs.

Hints going forward:
1. In describing your work, focus on results and impact, not responsibility descriptions.
2. Highlight leadership while still showing your work collaboratively with peers.
3. I'd like to see a more focused post-MBA career direction.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 29, 2018

Thanks Linda - that's really good advice (although just to clarify, I am a British citizen, so not too much international experience!)

With regards to point #3 (post MBA career direction). Is there any advice you can give?

In particular, one of the advantages (as I see it) of doing an MBA is that basically sets you up for doing loads of different things in your career (banking, in-house consulting, MBB etc.). I've always seen this as the biggest benefit vs. immediate short term career moves. Does that match your thoughts as well?

Mar 29, 2018

You're welcome.

You wrote that you for a small European strategy consulting firm. I assumed that meant you worked in multiple countries in Europe, which is why I assumed int'l experience.

Regarding the goal, I may have misread your goal. Is it "infrastructure / transport / finance" , which is what I read? Or is it "infrastructure / transport finance," which is what you wrote and which is appropriately focused. If the latter, I "misspoke" and your goal is appropriately focused.

If the former, then I would advise you to focus on either infrastructure/transport, or as you probably intended finance in the infrastructure/transport industry.

Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 29, 2018

Hey @Londonconsultant2018
I think my colleague Nisha responded to this over on the mbaMission board but as I saw you are in London I had to say hello! I'm in London too! EC1. Anyhow, I agree with Nisha...try the GMAT again. Also, schools like to see 2nd attempts. Says something about the type of person you are. Maybe get the extended score report, see where the gap is, and get a private tutor to help push you to 750. If it was July, I probably wouldn't suggest this. But it's March! Go for it. You have time.

I appreciate that you have realistically listed H/S/W as reaches. They are tough for anyone, but particularly for those from over-represented demographics. I like your Core list. I think the challenge is going to be getting this all done. It can be tough to knock out six apps in R1. And you can't do all your reaches in R1 and the rest in R2. You need to move some of those core to R1. MIT has historically been a later deadline and a less labor-intensive app so think about that in R1 for sure.

Hope that helps!
Krista

mbaMission Admissions Consultant

For personal advice, please see up a free consultation: http://www.mbamission.com/consult.php
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    • 2
Mar 29, 2018

Thanks Krista -

Realistically, I'm only going to be able to add one of (1) GMAT retake (2) wider community involvement / leadership before October (again, assuming that I want them to be meaningful).

If that's the case, which one should I go for?

Mar 30, 2018
Comment

mbaMission Admissions Consultant

For personal advice, please see up a free consultation: http://www.mbamission.com/consult.php
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Blog: http://www.mbamission.com/blog

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