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  Retaking the GMAT

Posted by ian on Tue 16 Sep 08 at 2:42pm

GMAC makes a wealth of information about the GMAT available in their research reports. A study by Lawrence Rudner, entitled "GMAT Retakers", offers some interesting facts about those who take the GMAT more than once:

How many people take the GMAT more than once? During the time period studied (2003-2004), nearly 20% of those who took one GMAT test took at least one further GMAT test. Of this group, more than half do not speak English as a first language.

How soon after first taking the GMAT do people retake the test? Of people who take the GMAT twice, nearly half write their second test within 60 days of the first.

What proportion of GMAT test takers do not finish the Quantitative section? Around 16% of first-time GMAT test-takers, although more than half of these leave only one or two questions unanswered. Still, despite all of the information available about the severe penalties for not finishing one section of the test, about 7% of test takers leave more than two questions unfinished at the end of the GMAT Quant section.

What proportion of GMAT test takers do not finish the Verbal section? Around 11%, but more than half of these leave three or fewer questions unanswered.

How much do people improve when they retake the GMAT? On average, GMAT retakers improve by slightly more than 30 points on the 800 scale. The Quantitative improvement was, on average, 2.4 points, while the Verbal improvement was lower, at 1.8 points on the scaled score used by the GMAT, though on each section, the average percentile improvement was roughly 6 percentile points.

Should you expect to improve 30 points if you retake the GMAT? Probably not. The standard deviation of the improvement was nearly 60 points, a very high number compared to the average improvement. That means that there is a lot of variation from the first test to the second. In fact, a quarter of the people retaking the test actually scored worse the second time, and 10% saw their score drop by 40 points or more. More than half gain no more than 30 points. That said, 38% gain between 30 and 100 points, and 8.5% gain 100 points or more.

Who improves their GMAT score the most when retaking the test? Rudner's report identifies several groups who make the largest average improvement upon retaking the test. Those with below average GMAT scores (below 530) on their first GMAT made much larger improvements than those with above average scores. Those who did not complete the Quantitative section on their first attempt also saw large improvements. Finally, those whose undergraduate GPA was high relative to their GMAT performance witnessed a significant improvement.



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