GMAT score
Low GMAT score? Thankfully, this standardised test can be taken more than once. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

You’ve narrowed down your business school options, received the final drafts of your recommendation letters, spent countless hours studying, and sat through your Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) exam — either online or at their examination centre — only to find out that your GMAT score is lower than you need it to be.

Now your confidence is crushed and you can’t stop obsessing over your score – but what’s next? Your first step is to realise that your journey is far from over, especially if you’re a first-time GMAT test-taker.

Data from the organisation that administers the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), reveals that three-fourths of business school candidates who retake the GMAT perform better than they did the first round.

While first attempts at the GMAT exam don’t always go smoothly for all students, here are some tips on how you bounce back when retaking the exam to ensure they get a better GMAT score:

Identify your mistakes

Taking the time to review your previous GMAT test will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. Pay special attention to areas where you struggled, but don’t forget to go over areas you did well too.

You don’t want to improve in one area, only to do worse in another the second round.

Study with the best practice materials to boost your GMAT score

Students can expect to take some two to six months to study for the GMAT. You can make the most out of this time by using the best practice materials — or the official guide materials from the test-makers as they’re the real questions.

Official GMAT practice resources, such as the Official GMAT Prep Software, can be a good place to start, particularly as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of your prep to gauge how much progress you need to make and in which areas.

Take on supplemental GMAT coursework

By taking on additional courses, test-takers could show admissions committees that they are capable of excelling in areas otger than just general topics.

MBA officers are often impressed by those who are ready to take on rigorous quantitative courses in business school.

Improve your timing 

As with any exam, you’ll need to remember to pace yourself.

By going too quickly, you risk missing out on important details; go too slow and you’ll put yourself at risk of not finishing the test — or a section of it — on time, which will negatively affect your GMAT score.

If you want to improve on your timing, practise with timed tests and only take breaks when the trials permit you to better prepare for the exam and gain the confidence you need to excel.

Consider the GRE if you’re weak in math

“The GMAT mathematics section is just more difficult,” Mary Pat Jacobs, the founder of Apply Point Admissions Consulting, told the US News in 2015. “If someone has a weakness in the quantitative section, then I recommend the GRE.”

Also echoing this is Magoosh, which notes that candidates who struggle with Quant might find the GMAT math more daunting.

Many business schools accept either test. MBA aspirants without a quantitative background might perform better on the GRE than on the GMAT, so consider this option if you think it might help you boost your score.