To Keep or To Cancel Your GMAT Score—That Is the Question

Stacey Koprince —  June 26, 2014 — 1 Comment

cancel-gmat-scoreHave you heard? GMAC® just announced that, as of 27 June, we’ll be allowed to decide whether to keep or cancel our scores after we find out how we did. Exciting news!

What just changed?
I’ll summarize the details, but you can also read the full press release yourself here: Score Preview Added to GMAT.

Here’s what will happen when you get in there. You’ll take the test and, when you’re done, you’ll be shown your scores for everything but the essay. You will then have 2 minutes to decide whether to accept your scores.

You must actively accept them; if you do nothing, the scores will be canceled.

If you do cancel, you will then have 60 days to decide whether to reinstate the scores—for a fee of USD100. (Also, if you cancel, the schools will still see that you sat for the exam, as always.)

Okay, so what is the significance of this new feature?
Technically, this new feature shouldn’t really change anything because business schools really do use only your highest score. It’s hard, though, to remember that while the clock is ticking. The single biggest value here is peace of mind.

Of course you don’t want to become ill or have a panic attack or mess up your timing so badly that you don’t finish a section of the test. If any of those things happen, though, then you can cancel your score. (Just as you could before, actually—though you wouldn’t have known your score when making the decision.)

The overall message is the same as always: if you don’t hit your goal score, you can always take the test again, so just do your best and see what happens.

Know what you’re going to do before you get in there
2 minutes to decide? That just ADDS stress!

It could, yes, but you will already have decided what you’re going to do if faced with various scenarios.

Scenario #1: Goal score 720. Actual score 670.

Do NOT cancel this score. Sure, it’s below your goal, but it’s still a good score—and you don’t know for sure that you’ll hit 720 next time. In fact, some students score lower on their second test. Do not lose this score.

Scenario #2: Goal score 650. Actual score 450.

Most people will want to cancel this score. Several of my fellow teachers argued that we should tell everyone not to cancel anything, since the schools really do take the highest score. Still, realistically, I think most people will want to cancel a score 200 points below their goal. (But you really could leave it—the schools won’t care!)

Where does the line flip? How far below your goal score do you need to be in order to consider canceling?

I’ve been polling my colleagues since the news was announced yesterday afternoon and, while opinions vary, we all agree that anyone within 100 points of their goal score should definitely keep that score.

I’d go a little further. I think you should keep (or consider keeping) the score if you’re within 150 points of your goal. If you score 600+, keep the score even if your goal is 750.

Scenario #3: First official test Q 61st percentile, V 93rd percentile. Second official test, Q 76th percentile, V 84th percentile.

Even though the Verbal score went down on the second test, the Quant score went from a not-very-competitive score to one that is acceptable to all schools, so keep that score! This is true even if your overall score went down.

I canceled but now I’m thinking I should reinstate the score…
Come and talk to us on the forums. We can help you plan what to do before you get in there and we can also advise you after the fact. Post in the General Strategy folder in the Ask An Instructor section of the forums.

In sum
Definitely keep the score if you are within 100 points of your goal. Strongly consider keeping the score if you are within 150 points. (Pick a specific cut-off point for yourself before test day.) If you are more than 150 points below a reasonable* goal, then go ahead and cancel the score.

*Anything above 750 is not a reasonable goal, unless your real goal is not business school but teaching for us. :)

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Stacey Koprince

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Stacey Koprince is an Instructor and Trainer as well as the Director of Online Community for Manhattan Prep. She also co-manages the company's GMAT curriculum and product line. She has been teaching various standardized tests for more than fifteen years and her entire teaching philosophy can be summed up in five words: teaching students how to think.

One response to To Keep or To Cancel Your GMAT Score—That Is the Question

  1. Hello Stacey,

    I have taken GMAT examination a few days back and scored pathetically low[Score:- 400(Q-28/V-18)], but I have accepted my GMAT score despite being more than 200 points below my target score i.e 650-680. Have I done a mistake doing so? since it has been mentioned above that ” If you are more than 150 points below a reasonable* goal, then go ahead and cancel the score”. Now, I am a bit worried how to start all again and is this gonna hurt my admission chances in future? Please suggest!!

    Thanks!!
    Slacker
    “Stay hungry…stay foolish”

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