When to Take the GRE and Retake the Exam?

Raghuram Sukumar GRE 5 Comments

> Following post on When to Take the GRE Exam is shared by HSB Fan.

Note to Raghu: I haven’t really been an active member of the blog, though I’ve lurked here for quite some time. Your blog has been incredibly useful, and I think you’re doing a truly great job here!
I’ve applied for Public Health programs for Fall’13.

I scored a 164V/164Q/4.0 AWA on the GRE, and 118/120 on the TOEFL.

I’ve been helping out a few friends with their test prep and SOPs etc, and I thought this might be a better way to reach out to a larger number of applicants.

This is more of intro type thing to the GRE, and I have tons of ideas for other posts (GRE/TOEFL/SOPs/selecting schools etc) if you think they might be useful (I LOVE writing in general, and the fact that this might actually help people out is just icing on the cake:)) Now for the actual post.

The GRE is an intimidating exam, to say the least.

Five odd hours of testing is not easy by any means, and most students are stressed out at the prospect of taking an exam that might just decide the college they end up at.

When to Take the GRE Exam?

Deadlines for college applications are usually December to March, with most of them clustered in December/January.

In my opinion, the best time to take the exam would be in August/September, leaving you with enough time to receive the scores, and to schedule a retake, if required.

If your end score is not to your liking, it is definitely a good idea to retake a test because of 3 reasons:

Importance of GRE in Admission Process

While there are different opinions on exactly how much importance an admissions committee places on the GRE scores, it makes sense to get the best score you possibly can.

GPAs tend to differ across different colleges and majors, LORs are usually generic and carry relatively little weight-age unless written by star professors and most(not all!) candidates have similar profiles in terms of SOPs and resumes.

In such cases, GRE scores are a somewhat reliable, standardized way of judging an applicant.

A higher GRE score, at the very least, will ensure that your application is at least given a good look by the committee.

While few people like the idea of shelling out the exam fee again, an extra 175$ is not too much in the larger scheme of things when you take into account that retaking it might get you into a much better college, which in turn equals better prospects with respect to jobs/salaries.

So scrimping on the GRE fee might just cost you thousands of dollars potentially in terms of lost opportunities in the future!

Re-take GRE vs Performance

Most people perform better the second time they take the exam, simply because they already have an idea of what to expect and are more confident and less likely to blank out due to nervousness.

That said, retaking the exam is a waste of money if you do not use the intervening time to work on the weaknesses you might have identified the first time around.

Since you are more familiar with the pattern, it makes sense to work on strategies targeting the sections/type of questions that lowered your score on the first try.

GRE ScoreSelect

The GRE ScoreSelect option is a nifty and VERY useful tool introduced by ETS in July 2012.

You have an option of selecting which scores you want to report, helpful in cases where you don’t want adcoms to know the number of times you took the exam, or in case you end up scoring lower the second time around.

Be aware, though, that scores are reported in entirety, and not section wise.


  1. @HSB,
    I took GRE and scored a 315 – 153V + 162Q.

    Is it necessary to retake the GRE exam, if I’m targeting Top Schools for CS Masters?

    Plz reply.. Thanks!

  2. post regarding gre n toefl preparation. things to do , tips and how to prepare.. post them as soon as possible..thanks in advance

  3. I want to know book names for GRE Prep. Is one month sufficient for preparation. I am planning to take during first week of july 2013. In case of retest how much gap is advisable considering application process.

  4. sir, i want food science & technology in MS state universities, USA average cut of ?

  5. i want to do phd in structural engineering in any reputed university of USA.. how much score would redeem my most of the epanses?

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