1. Maybe you’ve had the dream I have every once in a while, that you spent the past three months preparing to take the GMAT, only to show up at the testing center and flat out bomb. It’s the B-school applicants equivalent of that dream where you have to give a speech in front of your whole high school and forget everything you were supposed to talk about.


    Indeed, everyone fears getting an absolutely atrocious score on the GMAT, and it’s a strange kind of comfort to know that the Graduate Management Admissions Council (the organization that makes and administers the GMAT) lets you cancel your scores if they’re particularly embarrassing.


    We covered the pluses and minuses of cancelling your GMAT scores in a prior blog post, but we never went in depth into how you can actually go about cancelling your scores. Consider this your comprehensive guide.


    The good news is that you don’t have to cancel your scores right when you take the test. If there’s one big piece of advice I’d like to give before telling you how to cancel your scores, it’s just that you shouldn’t make a snap decision about cancelling them. Like we said in that other blog post, it’s difficult to make a good decision about your scores in the heat of the moment.


    What Happens If I Cancel My Scores At the Testing Center?

    • Your scores will disappear forever (unless you pay to reinstate them)
    • You’ll still be out the $250 registration fee
    • There will be no evidence you ever took the GMAT on this day
    • You’ll have to wait 16 days to take another test


    You will not be able to see your scores again if you cancel them. If you want to keep track of the score you decided to cancel, it will be on your to note it yourself. You likely will want to know what score you got in the future, especially as you’re trying to gauge how much you’ve improved. Be sure to write it down.


    As you’ve likely guessed, the GMAC does give you the opportunity to pay them some more money in order to reinstate your scores. For $50 you can reinstate any canceled scores that are less than 5 years old. Honestly, a big part of the reason why you shouldn’t cancel scores immediately at the testing center is because you don’t really want to pay that $50 a few days later when you regret the snap decision you made.


    You will not receive a refund. Just because you cancel your scores doesn’t mean you’ll get your $250 back. The GMAC is a non-profit organization, but they are pretty intent on making sure they get paid!


    There will be no record of you registering for and taking this particular GMAT on your score report. This is a big relief, since schools you’re applying for will never know that you took a GMAT and cancelled your scores. This gives you the opportunity to show the programs your are applying to nothing but the GMAT scores that you’re proudest of.


    The GMAC used to put a “C” for “cancelled” on score reports, but that’s not the case anymore. This means any GMAT you took that you are displeased with remains 100% confidential. That should hopefully relieve a lot of stress going into the exam.


    Even if you cancel your score, you still must wait 16 days before taking another GMAT. The GMAC’s rules very simply state that you must wait 16 days between every single GMAT you take. This is also pretty merciful, honestly, since if you had a less than ideal performance on test day, you likely want to take some extra time to better prepare for next time you take the test. Don’t see the 16-day limit as a restriction, but as an opportunity to step up your game.


    What If I Didn’t Cancel My Scores at the Testing Center?

    Congratulations, you resisted temptation and gave yourself an important opportunity to reflect on the scores you received. That was a smart move.


    Why? You still have 72 hours after your exam to cancel your scores, for a fee of $25. That’s cheaper than the $50 fee they charge to reinstate scores you cancelled in the heat of the moment. After paying that $25, those scores are cancelled and any record that you took this specific GMAT are erased from your score report. Phew!


    Of course, during that 72-hour reflection period, you may decide that this GMAT score you got is fine, and that you wouldn’t be ashamed to have that show up on your score report next to better scores you’ll get when you retake the test in a few months.


    If you don’t cancel your scores at the test center, you will be handed a print-out of your unofficial score report with your Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores at the test center. Take this home with you and compare what you got to the scores desired by the schools you’re planning on applying to.


    Within 20 calendar days following the test, you’ll receive an official score report that includes the same info as your unofficial report plus an Analytical Writing score. By now it is obviously much too late to cancel your scores, which means you’re pleased with what you’re seeing on that report. And if you decided you’re not pleased, just start studying immediately to get that amazing score you know you deserve.


    Should I Cancel My GMAT Score?

    Well, that’s the question! Like I mentioned earlier, whatever you do, don’t cancel your score immediately. Take some time to meditate on the scores you earned and decide if they would detract from your application.


    Review the scores listed on admissions websites for the various MBA programs you’re planning on applying to. Some quick Googling will give you a good idea of whether or not your scores are in an acceptable range to make your application competitive at those schools.


    In general, I’d say don’t cancel your scores, especially if it was your first time taking the test. If you were nervous taking the test, know that taking the GMAT in the testing center will feel familiar next time around. You’ll be much better positioned to focus on your strengths and really delivering on game day.


    If you did worse on your actual GMAT than on the practice tests you took, it likely has to do with nerves. Practicing at home is a much different experience than sitting in that testing center and taking that test.


    Plan on retaking the test if you aren’t happy with your performance. Hopefully when you complete more practice tests, you’ll be working as hard as you can to treat them like you’re actually sitting in that testing center taking the real thing. Track your improvement with your practice scores and remember that a very slim minority of GMAT test-takers are naturally good at this test.


    Working to improve on the GMAT is a challenge, and you’ll be facing a lot of challenges when you’re involved in a rigorous MBA program. Look at this as an opportunity to show a business school that you’re able to rise to the occasion on a stressful, difficult exam.

    Dave Green
    Senior tutor and professional test-prep writer. Interdisciplinary wizard, with Master’s degrees in economics, philosophy, and political science at HUJI.

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