Jun 25 2015

GMAT Policy Changes – Cancelled Scores

Cancelled ScoresThe Graduate Management Admission Council announced two significant changes to GMAT policies. Both of these changes, which take effect July 19, are beneficial to GMAT test takers.

Attempts with Cancelled Scores Not Shown

After completing the GMAT, a test taker is shown her scores and has two minutes in which to decide whether to keep or cancel those scores. If she chooses to cancel the scores, her score report currently indicates a cancelled GMAT attempt with a “C” notation. Effective July 19, score reports will no longer show test attempts in which users cancelled their scores. The GMAC will retroactively apply this change to all previously cancelled scores. This policy change does not affect score cancellations generated by the GMAC, such as those due to technical issues or policy violations.

Reduced GMAT Waiting Period

Currently you can take the GMAT a subsequent time only after a 31-day gap. This waiting period will be reduced to 16 days effective July 19. As before, you are limited to a maximum of five GMAT attempts in any 12-month period. Frankly, we cannot imagine why anyone would want to take the GMAT more often than that.

Why Were These Changes Made?

The GMAC said that it received feedback from test takers that business schools may negatively perceive cancelled scores, and that test takers therefore wanted this change. Since candidates may cancel their GMAT scores for a variety of reasons, removal of score cancellations will prevent schools from misinterpreting score cancellations. Although most business schools would probably overlook one cancelled score, several cancelled attempts may raise questions for an admissions officer.

These changes are also in the GMAC’s interest. Without any indication of score cancellation, test takers will be more willing to take the test more often, generating more fees for the GMAC. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the GMAC will now also allow test takers to retake the GMAT sooner.

GMAT Genius’ Interpretation

Both of these changes are beneficial to GMAT takers. You can now retake the GMAT with significantly less risk. For example, consider a test taker who scored 680 on the GMAT the first time and wants to try for a 700+ score. She can now retake the GMAT knowing that she can cancel any score that doesn’t exceed her prior 680, and business schools will be none the wiser. She may now even be motivated to try a few times for a 700+ score.

As another example, consider a test taker who falls sick just before his exam. A test taker who reschedules his exam within seven days of the scheduled date loses the entire test fee. Previously, someone who fell sick would either waste the $250 fee by rescheduling or risk the dreaded “C” on his score report. Our test taker can now take the test while sick as a practice run, knowing that he can cancel his score without the cancellation showing on his report. Furthermore, he can retake the GMAT sooner, while he has greater retention from his studies in advance of the first test date.

We recommend that GMAT aspirants retake the GMAT only if they have good reason to believe that they can score higher. The GMAC has just reduced your risk in doing so. You can read more about the changes on mba.com.


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  1. Bobby

    Hello –

    I just called GMAT CS, and the story they told me is a bit different than the above.

    I am thinking about retaking the exam after the policy change goes into effect. I asked the CS agent what would happen if I retook but ultimately decided to cancel the score. He said it would not be included on my score report but that schools would still be able to find out that I took it twice… not sure what to make of this? Thoughts?


    1. Chief Genius

      Hi Bobby,

      Thanks for your comment. I think you may have gotten incorrect information from the customer service rep that you spoke with, since this seems inconsistent with what the GMAC has announced. Schools only find out about your GMAT examinations from your score report. Once the cancelled scores are removed from score reports, schools have no way of knowing about your cancelled attempt.

      To quote the GMAC, “… when a test taker cancels their score, only the test taker will know.” This seems to clearly contradict what the CS rep told you. You may want to call again to speak with someone else and cite the GMAC announcement, since that rep may have been misinformed. For your reference, here are the pages on MBA.com that describe the policy changes:
      Policy Update FAQ

      Best of luck! Please let us know in case you uncover any additional information.

  2. Hank


    I took my first GMAT in mid 2011 and am about to retest on July 18th (1-day shy of the July 19th policy change date). Since the policy is retroactive, if I score less on my second try and cancel my score, the schools that receive my scores will only see the first score taken in mid 2011 right?

    Also, how would it work if I took the test for the second time but didn’t list any schools to receive the reports and only added schools via the additional score reports after the fact if I’m satisfied with the second exam’s score? Would the schools I listed during my first exam receive only the first exam score and not be able to see the second, or would the schools listed on my first exam see my first score and my second score (ie: the schools have access to a database and by listing them on the first exam, they’ll be able to see both scores)?

    It seems to me like the best strategy is to take the second exam without listing any schools, and if the score is good, add additional school reports post test, and if the score is bad, cancel the test immediately. Is that you’re interpretation?


    1. Chief Genius

      Hi Hank — your interpretation is correct, and actually is the same advice that we gave to one of our GMAT clients who took the GMAT today. As long as you don’t mind paying $28 per additional score report after you complete your exam, your best strategy for a GMAT administration before July 19 is to not list any schools to receive score reports. If you are happy with your score, you can then order the score reports for schools at $28 each. If you are not happy with your score, then cancel your score and this cancellation will disappear from all score reports issued starting on July 19.

      If you don’t want to pay the $28 fee per score report, at the beginning of a GMAT administration, you can list up to five schools to receive score reports for free. But these schools will see both your mid-2011 score and results from your July 18 examination — either your scores if you keep them or a “C” if you choose to cancel scores.

      As to your other question, the schools that received your score report from your first exam in mid-2011 will NOT automatically get access to scoring data from your second or any subsequent GMAT tests, nor do they have direct access to a database with new scores. You would need to specifically request that those schools be sent new score reports. Again, you should only do so after your July 18 exam (if you are happy with your score) or after July 19 (if you cancel your July 18 score).

      Best of luck with the GMAT on July 18. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance in your GMAT preparations.

  3. madhuri


    My exam is on 28th of August and I registered for it on June 16. Will the above terms still be applicable? Thanks in advance.

    1. Chief Genius

      Hi Madhuri — yes, you will benefit from the revised GMAT policies. Only your actual exam date matters, not the date of registration. Good luck with your exam, and let us know if we can be of any help.

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