"I Just Bombed the GMAT"

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People find this site in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it happens through a search engine, and I keep an eye on what search terms lead people here. The title of this article--"I just bombed the GMAT"--was that search term for someone last week.

"Bombing" the GMAT can mean many things to different people, but suffice it to say that it happens to a lot of test-takers. Many of my students are folks who have taken the test before, and multiple scores are common enough that most business schools have a policy that determines how they interpret them.

I've written before on whether you should retake the GMAT. It's a difficult decision, and I tried to cover the most important criteria in that piece. Today, I'm more concerned with how you should attack it the second time around, once you've decided that you'll try again.

Take a Break

If you studied for weeks or even months and didn't meet your goal, odds are you're disappointed, and understandably so. There's no reason to force yourself back to the books right away. You won't forget everything in a week or two, so take some time off, enjoy your free time, and try not to think too much about the GMAT.

Don't take too much time off, though. Any more than two weeks or so, and you'll have a lot more relearning to do when you get back to it.

Don't Overreact

Many people respond to a disappointing test score by trying to do the opposite of everything they did before. New books, new strategies, new tutor...whatever they can change, they change it. There may be good reason for any of those adjustments, but put some thought into it. You probably did something right, and I wouldn't want you to discard that. You might have just had a bad day.

Set a New Date

You'll have to wait at least 31 days to retake the test--that's the GMAC's rule. But you shouldn't wait a whole lot longer than that. If you studied very much the first time around, there's only so much more you can do. 4-6 weeks is about right, and I would think that 8 weeks is the absolute maximum.

Commit to a date as soon as you decide to take the test again. It's very easy to let your disappointment get the better of you and wait longer to start studying. If you've got the date set up, you're less likely to put it off.

Stick to Realistic Materials

Many people start with a test-prep course of an off-the-shelf book such as one from The Princeton Review. They work for some people. For others, the difference between realistic materials, such as The Official Guide, and commerical resources such as Kaplan's, is enough to throw them off on test day.

If you've already exhausted the GMAC materials, turn to my sets of practice problems, which are closely based on published questions from the GMAT pool.

Stay Positive

You planned on being done with the GMAT after that first test, but the exam has claimed a little bit more of your life. It's tough, but if you've decided to take the test again, you're going to have to deal with it. The more optimistic you are approaching your study time, the more effective it will be. If you focus on your disappointing score, you're that much more likely to replicate it the second time around.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Verbal

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type you'll face on the test. Everything you need, all in one place, including 100+ realistic practice questions.
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