So you’re unhappy with your scores on the graduate record exam, simply known as GRE. What can you do? Should you retake the GRE? While retaking the GRE won’t hurt your odds of being admitted to graduate school, the time and effort spend preparing to retake it might be better spent elsewhere. How can you tell if taking the GRE a second, third, or additional time is a good idea?  Consider some of the following things such as did something interfere with your concentration (such as testing conditions), did an outside stressor interfere with your performance (such as difficulty getting to the test center or personal problems or were your scores lower than those on your practice tests? Other two things to be considered are did you study long and hard enough and are your scores much lower than required for admission to your desired graduate programs. The GRE is intended to be administered in standardized conditions.  Every test center is supposed to provide identical conditions such as adequate space to work, good lighting, and, above all else quiet. In reality conditions vary. Street noise cannot be controlled. 

Should you retake the GRE

Although sometimes it is very difficult, neither can a nearby test taker’s coughing, sneezing, or sniffling. Can you do a better job of concentrating next time? Were you suffering from a cold? Headache? Allergies? Stomach troubles? Be honest with yourself: Did your own physical functioning contribute to your performance? Stress is accompanied by many somatic symptoms, such as headaches and stomach pains. Will your body react in the same way next time? Is it worth retaking the GRE? Might relaxation exercise and stress management improve your performance? Illnesses, family emergencies, and unexpected challenges, such as car trouble on the way to the exam, can influence your ability to concentrate and may heighten anxiety.   Many of these freak incidents are unlikely to happen again, or in the case of car trouble, might be avoided next time.  Consider retaking the GRE in case you think freak occurrences impacted your score. If you truly were unprepared you may be able to improve your score.  How do you know if you were unprepared? Did you take enough practice exams to have an idea of your average score? If not, you probably were unprepared.  Consider retaking the GRE only if you can realistically expect to do a better job preparing.  Use the free GRE Diagnostic Service to determine what sections are toughest for you. Especially if it is higher than any published mean or average score, consider devoting your time to writing excellent essays and obtaining relevant applied and research experiences in case your score is above the minimum required in the program of your choice. You may not need to retake the GRE to get into grad school in case you scored at the 85th percentile or higher. You can take the GRE General Test only once every 21 days.