Answer by Jamboree Education:
This question might seem to have an obvious answer – after all, the GMAT is a test that you can attempt multiple times, and it does have a validity of five years. It might seem that the right answer is that you can appear whenever you feel like it.
But that’s not the most optimal answer. Over the years, we’ve seen that a well chosen GMAT date can impact many things – including performance, application quality and comfort during the entire process. Here, we present a short checklist that we always discuss with our own students, when they come to us with queries on whether the time is right for the GMAT.
Do you have a 3-5 month preparation runway, so as to make sure that you give the GMAT your best shot?
If you are absolutely sure that this year Is the right time to give the GMAT, then there is only one question to ask yourself. Do you have enough time to give yourself the highest possible score, from a preparation input standpoint? Depending on your comfort with the source material and test format, the ideal preparation time might vary from two to five months; determine what this time is for you, and check whether you can dedicate time over this period. If not, waiting a year or six months will only improve your chances: most schools have multiple application rounds, and additional time affords you the chance to add to your experience section in the application.
Are you completely sure that you will be applying (seriously; with a high probability of success) to Business Schools within the next three years?
Yes, the GMAT score is technically valid for five years. However, it is also a little like an article of food: it can technically be consumed till its expiry date, but it is wise to consume it well before. Most candidates prefer to submit GMAT scores that are not older than three years and, if you want to do the same, you should think through your short term future, and evaluate your chances of getting into your target schools within the next 1000 days. To this end, you might want to speak to connections of yours in those schools, look at the median years of work experience of entrants, and speak to admissions consultants to get a fair estimate of your chances.
In your 3-5 month preparation window, will you be able to ensure concentrated preparation for at least one of those months?
As important as a long preparation runway is ensuring the existence of an intense prep period. You want to be at your peak when you give the most important test of your life, and the best way to do this is to dedicate a relatively short stretch of time to nothing else than GMAT prep. If you are sure that a few weeks’ leave from work will be achievable, you should have all you need.
At the very outset, you need to convince yourself that you will be able to find this time. Any date you choose will only be foolproof if you can assure peak capability prep.
Do you have your eye on a mentor or coach to make sure your preparation is all it should be?
Most aspirants need someone to guide their GMAT preparation, and we have seen that these guides can be of three types. The most common are institutions who provide end to end GMAT and application coaching and guidance. Some candidates prefer to engage continually with someone who has applied successfully and recently. Some others opt for part time (for example, online test only) sessions with coaching institutions. In case you are looking for a date for your GMAT that is not far in the future, you should definitely look at whether you will have access to this guidance throughout your preparation period. If not, you should either get that access right away or consider postponing till you can get coached right.
Are you convinced that an MBA abroad is high on your list of probabilities?
Choosing your date for the GMAT is a very important function if how important it is for you. If you – and your mentors – are sure that it is a backup at best, then you should schedule it according to when it causes the least disruption in your priority plans. If it is the top priority, then you should schedule it so that it is timed right to give you the best chance of success. If you are not sure about how important it is, you should have several career discussions so that you determine whether it’s a critical step in your career or a not so important backup.
If you are also aiming at graduate degrees in other disciplines, would it make more sense to give only the GRE?
In case you are looking at the immediate term to apply – within the next year or year and a half – and you want to apply both to graduate non-MBA schools (in similar programs like and MBA programs – it might make sense to evaluate whether you have time to give both the GRE and the GMAT, and perform as well as possible in both. If not, then you should seriously evaluate your chances of cracking the GRE, given that every good MBA program accepts the GRE these days. This will make sure that you do not divide your efforts, but are rather able to focus on one exam and get a good enough score in it that you need nothing else.
Even if you are applying to no programs except the MBA, it still makes sense to evaluate the GRE as an option. In case your skill set matches (very strong on Verbal, fair Quant skills) better than it does for GMAT, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you selected the program that affords you the greatest chance of success.
In case timelines are tight, are you sure that you will be able to take care of minor logistics such as test dates?
In case you have only a few months within which you have to give the GMAT to be able to apply in the current round, and if you are convinced that you will be able to perform optimally, you need to do a quick detail check. Is the availability of test dates such that your application will reach each one of your target schools in time? If not, is there a test center near your city where you can give the test in time? Do you have all the requisite identity proofs (e.g. passport) that you will need? These checks are best done up front; the last thing you want to find out at the end of a couple of months’ intense preparation is that you have to postpone your test date because of a small oversight on your part.
Once a candidate has thought through all these points, we have seen that he / she is always able to take an informed, powerful decision on whether the time is right to take the GMAT, and use that decision to power a lot of his / her thinking about the future, and how best to fit a top international Business School degree into that future.