Why You Should (Almost) Never Cancel Your GMAT Score

Immediately after you conclude the GMAT exam and before the computer displays your scores, you're given the option of canceling your scores. You may see this as a blessing if you've had a rough day at the computer. You may jump at the chance to get rid of all evidence of your verbal, quantitative, and writing struggles.

Canceling your scores is almost always a bad idea. There are several reasons why this is the case:

  • People routinely overestimate or underestimate their performance on standardized tests. The GMAT isn't a test on state capitals or chemical symbols, so it's not always easy to know how well you did. So long as you answer most of the questions and are able to focus reasonably well during the test, you'll probably earn scores that aren't too different from the average scores you'd get if you took the test repeatedly. People who retake the GMAT and other standardized tests rarely see their scores change significantly unless they're initially unprepared to take the exam and later attempt it with significant preparation.
  • You may not have time to reschedule. It may take a while to reschedule the test. If your applications are due right away, you could miss an application deadline because you don't have GMAT scores to submit.
  • You'll never know how you did. If you cancel your scores, you'll never know how you did or what areas you need to work on to improve your score if you decide to retake the test later.
  • Your score cancellation will be added to your GMAT record. Cancelled scores are noted on all official GMAT score reports. Some schools may look on your cancelled score unfavorably.

A few circumstances exist in which you should consider canceling your scores. These situations aren't based on your estimation of how you did, which may be inaccurate, but on extenuating factors:

  • You're pretty darn ill during the test. Waking up on test day with a fever of 101 degrees F or getting sick during the test may warrant canceling a GMAT score.
  • You were unable to concentrate during the test. Unusual personal difficulties, like a death in the family or the demise of a close relationship, could distract you to the point where you freeze up in the middle of the exam.
  • You left many questions unanswered. If you ignore time management techniques and leave quite a few questions unanswered in the verbal and quantitative sections, you may consider canceling your scores.
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