So, everyone who’s going to business school knows they’re probably going to have to take the GMAT before applying. But not everyone has the same plan for what happens between taking the GMAT and actually starting business school. For some people, the application follows the test, followed more or less immediately by acceptance and enrollment.
But other people’s paths to business school might not be so linear. If this describes you, then you’ll need to know everything there is to know about how long GMAT scores remain valid.
HOW LONG DOES THE GMAC HOLD ONTO YOUR SCORE?
The GMAC—who are responsible for creating and administering the GMAT—holds onto your scores for ten years. By that we mean ten years from the date you took the exam. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s always that simple to access your scores.
Your scores remain accessible via your online GMAC account for five years. If you want to view scores for exams you took between five and ten years ago, you’ll need to submit a request for a special score report. In order to do this, you’ll have to call the GMAC’s customer service and pay a $28 fee. Your score report will come in the form of a hard copy.
If you took the exam more than ten years ago, unfortunately, there’s no way to obtain a score report. Though given business schools’ rules for accepting old GMAT scores, there’s no reason to worry about scores that are more than ten, or even five, years old. For more information, see the next section!
HOW LONG DO GMAT SCORES REMAIN VALID FOR BUSINESS SCHOOLS?
By and large, business schools accept scores for any GMAT exam you’ve taken in the past five years. By this we mean exams taken within five years of the application deadline.
The application deadline for each school will vary—in fact, most business schools structure their admissions decisions in several rounds over the course of the year. In addition, schools may have their own particular cutoffs for accepting old GMAT scores (though the vast majority follow the five year rule). You’ll want to double-check with all the schools you plan on applying to, to confirm their cutoff dates for old GMAT scores.
DO BUSINESS SCHOOLS SEE THE SCORES FROM EVERY GMAT YOU’VE EVER TAKEN?
Well, that depends on whether you’ve canceled your GMAT score or not.
Now, when you choose to send a score report to a business school, that school will be able to see all your accepted scores. What does this mean? Well, whenever you take the GMAT, upon completion, you will see an unofficial report of your scores for the IR, Quantitative, and Verbal sections. (No immediate AWA scores yet, as these still require human grading — though who knows what the dawn of Artificial Intelligence will mean for AWA.)
After seeing your unofficial score report, you will have the option of keeping or cancelling your GMAT score. If you cancel your score, it will not show up on any score report seen by any business school (this was not the case before 2015). If you accept your score, however, it will be seen by any business school you send a score report to in the next five years.
One other exception: you can now reinstate previously cancelled scores, if you have changed your mind and would like them to be visible to business schools. This is only true for tests taken on or after January 1, 2014. You will have to pay a one-time fee of $50. This option remains available for up to four years and eleven months from the test date.
SO WHO HAS TO WORRY ABOUT THIS?
As we said, most people apply to business school shortly after taking the GMAT for the final time. These people don’t have to worry much about how long scores remain valid.
Some people, after taking the GMAT, end up postponing their enrollment in business school for any number of reasons. Sometimes life intervenes and plans get delayed. Sometimes people don’t get accepted to any of their top-choice schools, and they wait a year or two to reapply.
One final scenario that would make this question relevant is people who purposely plan to take the GMAT several years in advance of their application to business school. Why would you do this?
Well, sometimes, taking the test at a particular time offers some advantages. Many people choose to take the GMAT at some point while completing their undergraduate degree. Taking the exam while you’re still enrolled in school can help ensure your academic skills aren’t rusty when you take the exam.
Many people also know that the years ahead will be busy, and want to get the GMAT out of the way before they have to balance it with, for example, the two to three years of working experience that most business school students complete before even applying.
Whatever the reason you might have for submitting older GMAT scores, you should be sure to check with the programs you’re applying to determine whether your scores will be valid. But so long as your GMAT test date falls within five years of your target schools’ application deadlines, you should be fine.