When To Take The GRE? The Ideal Time
When to take the GRE?
| When to take the GRE? : What is the right time to schedule and prepare for the ETS GRE test? | When to take the GRE?
If you are preparing to take the GRE, one thing that plagues many students is when to take the test. Students often wonder if there is an optimal time of the year to take the test. While there is no single answer that will perfectly fit each person’s specific situation, keep the following points in mind in order to make a good decision.
First find out the application deadlines for the graduate schools to which you are applying. Then work backwards from your earliest deadline. Build some extra time into your planning process for unexpected delays because you can only take the GRE test once per calendar month. Keep in mind that it can take as long as four weeks for your official scores to arrive at your designated schools. Thus ideally the first half of the penultimate year (before the final year) is the best time to take the GRE. The reason being that during the second half of the year, students are busy preparing for their final exams, writing their SOP, getting Letters of Recommendation from professors and writing other essays required for the admission process. When to take the GRE?
Another factor to be considered is when do you plan to attend graduate school. Some people suggest that the optimal time to take the GRE is during your first year of college. Since the GRE is so similar to the SAT, and because you’ve recently taken the SAT, it’s better to just take the GRE while those basic math and vocabulary skills are still sharp in your mind. While there is some validity to this argument, it fails to consider a pretty relevant factor: are you completely sure you want to go to graduate school when you are just in your first year of college? Because GRE scores only last five years, taking the test during your first year puts you in a position where you must go to graduate school no later than one year after you’ve graduated (assuming you graduated in four years). Otherwise, you’ll just have to take the GRE again. When to take the GRE?
A better approach would be to wait until you have a couple of years of college under your belt. Make the decision to take the GRE once you are confident that graduate school is your next career move. If you plan on attending graduate school either immediately after graduating from college, then taking the test during your junior year is ideal. If you’re looking to get a few years of professional experience under your belt before heading to graduate school, then taking the test during your senior year might make more sense. When to take the GRE?
Since the GRE is offered year-round, it negates the need to sign up for a test date months in advance. In determining the right time to take the GRE, check your academic schedule — you don’t want to take the test during your busiest semester, as both your test results and your GPA will suffer. Instead, try to find a way to lighten the load for a semester and use the extra hours to prepare for the GRE. Alternatively, if you have a light summer, use those months to prepare for and take the test then. When to take the GRE?
Another important factor to consider is the application deadlines. For most programs, deadlines are anytime between October and January. That means you should aim to have all of the pieces of your application finished by the beginning of December. That does not mean students should wait until November to take the GRE. If your fall semester is very busy, then it will be better to prepare for and take the test over the summer. Even if you can prepare for and take the test during the fall semester, it’s better to aim for a July or August test date. That way, if you need to retake the test, you will have enough time to do so. Keep in mind that you must wait 21 days before taking the test a second time. When to take the GRE?
Students must keep in mind that they can take the GRE up to 5 times, but never more than once per calendar month (including a month in which you cancel your score). You’ll want to schedule enough time in your planning process to register and re-take the test, and then have the new score submitted to the school before the application deadline. Do this only if you know that your score will increase considerably. When to take the GRE?
The GRE scores are valid for as many as 5 years from the date of the test but the admissions officers would not be very amused of the fact that your GRE score is as old as 5 years. Or even 3 years, for that matter, especially if you are a recent graduate. Unless you are a working professional, your GRE score should ideally not be older than 3 years. The reason being the GRE score represents your skill levels in math and verbal but if you took the test 3 or 4 years ago, there is no guarantee that you still are good at math or verbal reasoning, and there is no guarantee that your skills are as sharp as they were when you took the test. So, admissions committees usually prefer that your GRE score be as recent as possible, so that they have an accurate understanding of your abilities. Thus there is no point in taking the GRE in your first year of undergraduate studies. Therefore make sure your GRE score is not older than two years, by the time you apply to universities. When to take the GRE?
To conclude, the right time to take the GRE is when it is right for YOU. Consider the relevant factors that will affect when you will take the test, and plan from there. At the very least, make sure that you give yourself adequate time to prepare for the test (at least a couple of months) and plan for the possibility that you may want to retake it if things don’t go well due to unforeseen circumstances. Plan in advance and prepare well because ultimately, how well prepared you are to take the test, is what matters most, when it comes to getting a score that you are aiming for and getting into your dream university.