GMAT Dilemma - Would you recommend I retake again?

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Hi there -

I've had a bit of a dilemma on my mind for the past year or so and the time has finally come to make a decision. Basically, I'm wondering if I need to retake the GMAT or not.

Took the GMAT July 2010 - scored a 710 : V40 / Q47, AWA 6
Retook the GMAT July 2012 (because retakes never hurt, right?) - scored a 710 : V41 / Q47, AWA 6, IR 2

Even though the scores are about the same, I'm afraid that the IR 2 will look bad, even if I just submit the first score (provided that's even possible). Am I making this out to be a bigger deal than it is?

Biggest reason I am asking is because I currently find myself unemployed and looking for a job (Was working full-time to launch a startup for the past 2 years and funding dried up). I could use this time to retake the GMAT a 3rd time... or I could learn a new language, travel a bit, put extra energy into the job search, etc. I'm planning on applying for 2014, though if I find a particularly interesting opportunity, I could be persuaded to delay my application until 2015 at the latest. (I'll be 30 on Christmas, and I already feel like I'm at the top end age range for a number of my target schools).

Additional Context (if it helps):

Work Experience:
1. 3 years in IT (mostly in system administration-type roles, some increasing responsibility, promoted / relocated twice)
2. 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa
3. 2 years helping to launch a technology/marketing startup in the US.

Volunteer Experience:
1. Serve on the board for a local non-profit (supporting returned peace corps volunteers)
2. Periodically volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

1. Longer-term - start a company with a presence in an emerging economy.
2. Short-term - work for a major technology / financial services company for several years to gain the experience necessary for my longer-term goal

Aiming for: Schools like Cornell, Duke, Darden, Columbia, Yale, Tuck, etc.
(Was dinged in the past from Kellogg, Chicago, and Wharton - admittedly 1-2 years ago, before my thinking had quite matured to the point it's at now.)

Many thanks for the help,

GMAT Confused


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by [email protected] » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:05 am
Hi GMATConfused2013,

You've added a great deal of detail in your post; before offering my 2 cents, you'll likely find it best to deal with an Admissions Consultant. While the cost is significant, you are planning to apply to a variety of Top-20 schools (and some of those schools have rejected you before, so you'll need a specific way to get past that issue - a top AdCon advisor will be more helpful than this forum). These schools reject 75% - 95% of applicants each year, so you have to make sure that you're not giving a school any reason to reject you.

That having been said, you have a lot of things going for you, in terms of your work experience, volunteerism and GMAT score.

Here are the potential "hiccups", as I see them. Based on your first GMAT score, I'd have to ask WHY you took the GMAT again? What were you trying to do? What was your goal? Unless you were specifically asked to retest by an Admissions Rep from one of those schools (or by an AdCon advisor), there's really no reason to have retested. It looks strange - and strange isn't in your favor.

Your application essays and personal statements can be a real plus or a real minus to your overall application. You have no way of knowing how your essays were interpreted. It's possible that you wrote about the wrong subjects, came across as boring or off-putting or simply upset the Admissions Officer(s) who read your essay. Any of these factors could hurt your application.

As far as the IR score is concerned, you shouldn't be. IR is a funny section in that nobody really knows what it means nor can anyone make a prediction about you (or your performance in an MBA program) based on your IR score. In the short term, IR is simply a non-factor, so don't sweat it.

A strong Admissions Consultant will be able to fill in all the details, read your essays and make suggestions, help you to craft the strongest possible application and, in some cases, help you to prepare for any interviews that you may be granted. It's a big task and a competitive landscape, but just like the GMAT, it's predictable.

Best of Luck,
Contact Rich at [email protected]