You probably know that you can cancel your GMAT score if you aren’t happy with it. However, there’s a lot of misinformation about what it means to cancel your GMAT score and whether you should do it or not. In this article, we’ll answer the big questions about score cancelation, plus a few you might not have thought to ask.
Should You Cancel Your GMAT Score?
The answer to this question depends on whether it’s your first time taking the GMAT.
If it’s your first time taking the GMAT and you get a lousy score, your instincts will tell you to cancel your GMAT score and wipe the slate clean. Don’t do it! There are good reasons to keep that score, even though you aren’t happy with it.
First, it’s completely normal to submit two GMAT scores to schools. If you take the GMAT again later, you’ll probably get a higher score. Sending two scores—a lower one and a higher one—sends a clear message to schools:
- You don’t give up
- You can fix your weaknesses
That’s a positive message to send, and it can add some impact to your overall story.
Second, having a weak official score is better than not having one at all. What if something unexpected happens and you can’t take the GMAT again before your deadlines? What if your plans change and you decide to apply to an MBA program with less stringent GMAT requirements? If you have a weak GMAT score, you can still apply, even if you’re less confident in your applications. If you have no GMAT score at all, your applications won’t make it off the ground.
In short, don’t cancel your first GMAT score unless it’s over 100 points below your goal. If your goal is a 700 and you earn a 570, feel free to cancel (although you don’t have to). If you get a 620, keep that score!
If you already have an official GMAT score, the rules are a little different. Unless your new score is stronger than your old one, go ahead and cancel it.
Be careful, though: ‘stronger’ doesn’t just mean ‘higher overall.’ Your GMAT score goes beyond just the 200-800 number. Here’s an example:
- First score: 620 overall, 38 Quant, 37 Verbal, 4 IR
- Second score: 620 overall, 43 Quant, 32 Verbal, 6 IR
Even though the overall scores are the same, the second score does a much better job demonstrating your Quant ability. If that’s a priority in your applications—say, if you haven’t gotten very good grades in math classes in the past—you should keep that second score.
If your new score is only a little stronger than your old one, consider how close you are to reaching your goal score and how much more progress you think you can make before your deadlines. If you’re very close to your goal, you may want to keep your new score. If you improved, but you’re still pretty far off, and you’ll definitely take the test again later? You may want to be more aggressive about canceling.
How to Cancel Your GMAT Score
At the end of your official GMAT, you’ll have the opportunity to cancel your GMAT score. On the screen, you’ll see your “unofficial score”: your Quant and Verbal subscores, your overall score, and your Integrated Reasoning score. You’ll have two minutes to decide whether to keep or cancel that score. During that two-minute window, canceling your GMAT score is totally free.
Don’t try to make the decision within those two minutes! By the end of the test, you’ll be mentally drained. GMAT strategy is all about planning for test day, and whether to cancel your GMAT score is no exception.
If you aren’t happy with the decision you made on test day, you have 72 hours—three days—to cancel your score at home. You cancel by logging into your account at mba.com, the same account you used to register for the test. Canceling your GMAT score at this point costs $25. If you don’t see the option to cancel immediately, don’t panic. It can take 24 hours for the option to appear online. If it takes longer than 48 hours, contact the GMAC right away.
Here’s one small thing to be aware of: if you order an Additional Score Report, you lose the ability to cancel your GMAT score. So if you decide to send your score to an extra school, then change your mind and want to cancel that score, you won’t be able to do it.
Consequences of Canceling Your GMAT Score
Will schools know that you canceled a GMAT score? The answer is no. If you cancel your GMAT score, schools will never even know that you took the GMAT on that day.
Don’t panic if you look at your own official score report and see your canceled scores there! Your score report is different from the one your schools see. Yours includes all of your canceled scores, while the ones that schools get don’t include those scores (or any record that a score was canceled).
Here’s what happens when you cancel your GMAT score:
- You won’t get a printout of your unofficial score.
- You can still order an Enhanced Score Report for a canceled score.
- The test does still count against your five-test yearly limit, and your eight-test lifetime limit.
- You can reinstate your score if you change your mind about canceling it. This costs $10, and can be done online for 4 years and 11 months following your test date.
- You can cancel and reinstate the same score multiple times, as long as all cancellations happen within the 72 hour window.
- If you reinstate a score, schools can’t see that the score was ever canceled. A reinstated score looks the same as any other score.
If you have more questions about what happens when cancelling your GMAT score, check out the GMAC’s FAQ on the topic, or contact GMAC support.
In short: it’s easy to cancel your GMAT score, and it has relatively few consequences, other than the time, money, and energy you put into taking a test. However, if it’s your first GMAT, plan your cancellation strategy ahead of time, and lean towards not canceling your GMAT score. Your instincts will tell you to cancel a bad score and keep a good one, but the issue is a little more nuanced than that—and you can always change your mind later!
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.