Are you thinking about taking the GRE again after doing it before? Find out how many times you can retake the GRE, and see if you should actually retake the GRE.
If you’re looking to get into grad school (especially business school), then you’re usually required to take the Graduate Record Exam by the admissions department of the grad school you’re applying to join. The test will then measure your critical thinking, verbal reasoning, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning skills, so the admissions staff can check out if you do have the right stuff to get into their grad school.
However, it often happens that a GRE test taker isn’t happy with their score. This is usually because they feel it’s not high enough to get into the grad school of their choice.
If you feel this way, then you may want to consider retaking the test. It’s not all that unusual, as statistics show that 1 in 4 GRE test takes retake the test. You may have good reasons to do so.
How Many Times Can You Take the GRE?
You can take the GRE more than once, though there are certain limits.
- You can take the paper-based test as often as you can. You can take every test that’s offered throughout the year.
- You can take the computer-based test once at least every 21 days. If you start your GRE test and then you cancel the scores, it will still count as another attempt. You’d have to wait another 21 days to take the next one.
- You can take the GRE up to 5 times a year. That means after you’ve taken the GRE the first time, you can take it 4 more times in the next 365 days.
Should You Retake the GRE? Factors to Consider
Now that you know whether you can retake the test, the next important question is whether you should retake it in the first place. Your decision may hinge on several factors.
How Much Will It Cost You?
Taking the GRE comes with costs, and in most locations, the fee is $205. Some places charge higher fees. Turkey, for example, will charge $255. You also have to register online first, and you can’t just walk in to a test center and take the GRE.
You’re also allowed only to send 4 free score reports to various schools. Any more than that will cost you an extra $27 per recipient.
You also have to take your GRE preparation into account, and that will cost you a lot more. Sure, you can just buy a bunch of books to keep the costs low, but then these aren’t enough. If you relied on just books the first time you took the GRE, it’s not surprising you’re not satisfied with your score.
The bare minimum prep course you need is a basic self-paced course from a reputable brand like Kaplan and Princeton Review. That kind, of course, will cost you at least $450. You’ll have to pay extra for live online classes and additional features. If you add 10 hours of private tutoring, the cost can easily reach $2,000.
So, can you afford that? That’s the question you need to think about first.
Will the Schools Know about Your Previous Attempt?
If you take the GRE multiple times, it’s easy to understand that it’s not something that will impress admissions departments.
The good news is that the GRE offers the ScoreSelect option, which lets you pick out the particular score reports to send to the schools you’re applying to.
On the test day, you can view your scores at the test center and then:
- Choose not to send your scores at this time
- You can send just the most recent scores for your 4 free score reports
- You can send all your GRE scores over the last 5 years
After the test day, you can still send score reports for a fee. Then you have a choice to make:
- You can send in your most recent scores.
- You can send in one or as many test administrations scores you want in the last 5 years.
- You can send all your GRE scores in the last 5 years.
However, you have to check the grad school requirements carefully. Some grad schools require all applicants to report all their GRE scores if they’ve taken the test more than once. You should have known this beforehand, so you would have taken the first GRE test more seriously!
Can You Prepare for the GRE Better This Time?
One common reason for retaking the GRE is because you didn’t prepare for it properly. If you tried to wing your study plan by doing everything yourself, you may not have scored as high as you should. What you need is a good GRE prep course.
That just leads to the natural question: What’s a good GRE Prep Course? For one thing, you need to go with a recognized brand so you know you’re getting premium study materials and Carefully chosen instructors and tutors.
You also need the following:
Diagnostic Analysis and Carefully Designed Study Plan
Your GRE prep course should be able to analyze your previous GRE attempt and find out which areas need special attention and improvement. You can then devise a study plan that focuses on these areas. At the same time, you need to make sure that you can actually follow the schedule you come up with.
Most GRE lessons come in prerecorded form, so you can view them at any time. Try to get a prep course with comprehensive coverage, so that the video lessons cover all the topics that come up in the GRE. The more video lessons available, the better.
You may also want to do some research as to the quality of these videos. We’re not talking about video quality, though it’s great if the videos are in HD. It’s more important that the videos are effective. See to it that the videos were created by actual experts, such as those people who actually did very well in the GRE in the past.
You may also want to see that the videos aren’t boring. That’s why you may want to go with a prep course that offers a free trial. That way, you know what you’re in for and you can see for yourself if the videos can catch your attention or if they’ll just lull you to sleep.
It’s great if you have thousands of practice questions to use so you can check if the video lessons did their job. You should go with a filterable set of questions, while some prep courses even adjust the difficulty levels of the questions depending on your current performance.
You may also get customized homework assignments after the video lessons based on your progress.
Support and Answers to Questions
Sometimes you just don’t understand something, so you may want to ask someone. Your prep course should at least have an email support system, though it’s better if you can use a messaging system that answers your questions right away.
Full-Length Practice Tests
One benefit of practice tests is that you’re able to gauge your current GRE capabilities. They reveal your current strengths and weaknesses, so you can tweak your study plan to focus more on your weaknesses. The more practice tests you get, the quicker you can adjust your study plan.
The other benefit of full-length practice tests is that they familiarize with what you can expect from the real thing. Even if you’ve already taken the GRE once before, these tests can help you relax when you take the real GRE the next time.
Live Online Classes
Some people prefer this style of instruction, so check how many hours of live online instruction you can get from a course. Just keep in mind that you may pay extra for this service. Also, you may have to keep to a fixed schedule of classes.
If you prefer 1-on-1 tutoring, it will cost you a lot more. But some people find this method extremely helpful, especially those who need lots of support and guidance.
Before, it’s easy enough to find prep courses that offer actual classroom lectures and in-person tutoring. In light of the pandemic, this isn’t really popular these days. Some prep courses have stopped offering it (as of yet), and if you take this option you risk your health.
You don’t want to get sick right before you take the GRE!
Of course, it’s always possible that you weren’t feeling well at the time when you first took the GRE. If that’s the case, take care of your health before you take the exam. Be mindful of pandemic health safety tips, and get a good night’s rest before the day of the exam.
Still, it’s best if you prepare for the GRE properly. Get a good GRE prep course and that’s likely to increase your score. In fact, if you haven’t taken the GRE test yet, then a good GRE prep course may make a second try unnecessary!