At the height of the season for top US MBA-bound applicants to take the GMAT, GMAC introduced a new policy for reporting scores.

According to GMAC, which owns and administers the test, the new policy gives test takers more control over their scores.

From now on, test takers can first see their preliminary score and then decide whether to report it to business schools or to cancel it, so that no one will ever know what it was. Prior to 27 June, 2014 test takers had to take the decision before they actually took the test.

New GMAT Rules

However, the decision to cancel scores at the end of the test has various implications under the new process, including financial ones. See details in New GMAT Reporting Policy”.  Obviously, the new situation calls for new strategies that affect the way in which prospective applicants select and shortlist business schools, plan when to take the GMAT and how many times to take it, as well as secure the budget for preparation, test taking and score reporting.

Check the seven strategies and scenarios presented in the next articles. They reflect the new situation and comment on all your options. Hopefully, this roadmap will help you look ahead and plan wisely, so that you have your best GMAT score in time for your application for admission.

Strategy 1: You do not list score recipients at the start of the test.

At the start of the GMAT test you will have the opportunity to list up to five business schools/programmes (score recipients) to which your score will be reported. But this is not mandatory, so you can skip this step. In this way, you will be the only one to get the official score report.

This strategy was also possible before 27 June, 2014. Actually, this was the only way to ensure that you could see your score first and then decide whether to send it to the business schools you were applying to or to retake the test in an attempt to improve your performance.

When recommended:

This strategy is an excellent one if you start your GMAT preparation early, leaving yourself enough time for one or several GMAT tests. In this way, you can make sure that you have done everything within your control to achieve the highest score you possibly can. Then, you can shortlist the business schools to which you will be applying based on the best fit between your highest/latest score and the average score for the programme you are applying for. Thus, you improve your competitive advantage, at least as far as the GMAT is concerned. You must select schools where your score will be close to or above the average for the last incoming class.

Scenario 1A

... And you are happy with your score

If you do not list any score recipients at the start of the test, you will be the only one to receive the official score report. If you are happy with your score, you can then order official score reports to be sent to the business schools of your choice, for a fee. Allow several weeks for the official score reports to reach the admissions office of the designated schools.

Effect on Reporting:

If you do not list score recipients, an official score report will be issued to you alone. Then, if you take the test again and you report the result, all scores of the past five years will be reported to the schools, including the one for which you did not list score recipients. In this way schools will see what your past score was and can get an idea about your progress if your next scores are higher.

Scenario 1B

... And you are not happy with your score

If you do not list any score recipients at the start of the test, you will be the only one to receive the official score report. If you are unhappy, you will most likely retake the test. However, if you then decide to send the score of your next test to business schools, then they will also get your previous score.

To avoid this, you can cancel the score at the end of the test. In this way, this score will never be released to schools. Remember that you have only two minutes to decide whether to cancel your score. If you do not click on one of the options in time, the system will automatically cancel your score. Below is snapshot of the screen which you will see when you have to decide whether to report or cancel your score.

GMAT rules and strategies


What happens if you change your mind? Under the new rules, if you cancel your score at the end of the test, you can reinstate it within 60 days of the test date, for a fee. If you would like to take the next step and order score reports for schools, you can do that for an additional fee per score report. Allow several weeks for the score report to reach the business schools.

Effect on Reporting:

If you decide to receive an official score report, then the score will be reported to schools if you retake the test and report your next score, as the score report contains all results of the past five years.

If you cancel your score at the end of the test, as the new policy allows, that score will not appear in the score reports of past tests. However, the fact that you took the test and cancelled the score will be reported. It is still not clear how admissions committees will interpret cancelled scores. Actually a cancelled score on your score report may bring more questions than comfort.

New GMAT Rules - part 2 describes the scenarios which occur when you do select score recipients at the start of the test, as well as how this affects your timeline and budget.