How To Decide When To Take The GRE

Do you want to apply for graduate school? The next decision is when you should take the GRE. It is important to adhere to the deadlines for applications to your programs and optimize your GRE scores.

It takes approximately three weeks for official GRE scores at universities to reach mailrooms and another week for them to reach departmental officials. You can use the following information to help plan your GRE preparation.

1. Know your application deadline

You should allow yourself at least four months to prepare for GRE. However, many people only allow two to three months. You should make sure that your preparations are punctual in both cases. You must, for example, take the GRE in November if you have a December application due.

You shouldn’t wait to make a decision. It is better to have a buffer of at least a few months. If your December deadline is near, it’s best to take the GRE in September or October.

You can also relieve stress by taking the test again if you are unhappy with your results (see point 6). It is risky to rely on a single date for your test before you send your application.

2. You must ensure you have enough energy, time, and resources

You will need to spend a lot of time preparing for the GRE. To achieve a high score, you will need to be determined to follow a strict study plan for at least three months.

There are many reasons why the GRE may not be the best time for you. It is possible to wait until you have more time for preparation to take the GRE.

You may be at a crossroads of your life, and are unsure whether you have the time or resources to study for the GRE. Reduce your other commitments to make it possible to fit enough GRE prep into your life.

3. Make sure you are ready to go to grad school

This one is tricky. Not all people who choose to apply for grad school are recent college graduates. After some experience in the workplace and in life, many people choose to go to grad school. You must know your true goals and the best graduate programs to help you reach them.

GRE prep courses are popular among college seniors. However, it is not a good idea to enroll as an underclassman for GRE prep when you don’t know if you will want to go to graduate school. You can give yourself more time and choose grad school as a senior.

You might have never had the chance to travel to other areas of your interest or you would like to backpack in another country to find out what you can do. You’ll know when it is time. When you feel confident that you’ve made the right decision and are willing to follow through, you should take the GRE.

4. Do not assume that testing is available on the date you prefer

While the GRE General Test can be taken virtually any day of the year theoretically, each testing center has its own scheduling and operation. Do your research and verify test dates. Don’t assume flexibility or availability. Weekends are the most popular times to book time slots.

A GRE administration can be scheduled a few days in advance. However, this is unlikely. It is best to schedule a date and time that allows you to prepare for the exam. You can find information on test centers in your area at and register online. Don’t approach GRE scheduling carelessly.

5. Take advantage of every opportunity that is available

Some graduate programs have only one deadline. However, some may allow you the flexibility to apply in either spring or autumn semesters. For working professionals, these deadlines can be four times per calendar year.

It might be a good idea to study for the GRE more often if you have multiple chances to apply. You have more options to apply each year for the GRE, which will allow you to score higher.

It’s worth planning ahead for the test date you need if your window of opportunity to apply is short.

6. Make sure you are available to take the GRE again.

Many people take multiple GREs. Retaking the GRE exam is a good idea if you feel you could benefit. However, not giving yourself enough time for preparation can result in similar results, or even lower scores.

ETS, who administers the GRE, allows you the opportunity to take the GRE one time every 21 days. You can also take the GRE as many times as you like within a 12-month period (365 consecutive). Your official GRE score won’t be available for you until around 10-15 days later. To avoid disappointing scores, give yourself time and allow yourself to breathe.

You will eventually have to decide when and where you will take your GRE. While the application deadline is obviously the most important, there are other factors that could influence your decision. To prepare for the GRE, you may need to make a schedule or take on a more intense course to keep your interest in studying. You will have to consider your personal goals, current life circumstances and other factors before you make the decision about taking the GRE.


  • camdynelliott

    Camdyn Elliott is a 35-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. She has been writing about education for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Camdyn is the founder of the education blog Education Week, and she is also the author of the book "How to Teach Like a Pro: A Guide to Effective Teaching Methods for College and Career Students."

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