how many times can you take the GRE

How Many Times Can You Take the GRE?

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke

The GRE is a demanding standardized test put on by the ETS. During your preparation, you may have found yourself wondering, “How many times can you take the GRE?” You might also wonder how much a poor score will impact your admissions applications. Do schools really see every score you get on the GRE!? This is a breakdown of when you should and shouldn’t retake the GRE, along with some helpful tips for your GRE retake experience.

Prepping for the GRE? Consider our top picks for GRE prep books!

How Many Times Can You Take the GRE?

The GRE is based on the computer. You can take it once every 21 days, with a maximum of five times during a one-year period. A year, in this case, is counted as the 365 days following your first attempt. If you start a GRE exam and then cancel the scores, this still counts as an attempt, which means you’ll have to wait 21 days before you can take the test again. The paper-based test, on the other hand, can be taken as many times as it’s offered throughout the year.

How Many Times SHOULD You Take the GRE?

Even though you can take the test up to five times, you might want to consider an alternative approach. If you’ve taken the test four times without improving your score, you might want to wait before your fifth attempt. That way, you can make sure your options are still open for the rest of the year.

There are reasons that you might want to retake the GRE, though. If you believe that your score can improve significantly on a retake, then a retake is a good idea. Alternatively, if your original score was only 5-10 points away from the middle range of your ideal school, a retake might help you become a more competitive candidate.

Use the 21-day period between tests to your advantage. Review the material as well as you can. You might want to take a review course or invest in a tutor as well.

Questions to Ask if You Are Thinking About Taking the GRE Again

Would more prep time improve my score?

If you rushed into the test, you might end up with a lower score than anticipated. It’s okay, though. You have the opportunity to do a retake. You can consider the first test a trial run that sets your expectations for your next testing. When you prepare for your retake, you’ll want to pay special attention to the places that you feel you can improve with study. If you believe that more studying and preparation will improve your score, a retake is definitely a good idea.

Related: How Hard is the GRE?  

Were my mock tests scores higher than test day? Did my nerves get the best of me?

ETS creates PowerPrep tests so that you can set realistic expectations for your score. If you’ve taken all the PowerPrep tests available, and your test score wasn’t in line with your preparation scores, your performance on the test wasn’t an indicator of your usual skill.

It’s common to become stressed and flustered while taking the test, which can result in a lower score. You can familiarize yourself with the testing environment and performing under pressure. From there, a retake should yield a higher score.

Did you use a prep book or study guide you weren’t happy with?

Maybe you didn’t take advantage of all the resources at your disposal. Sometimes you’ll use preparatory material that doesn’t emulate the actual test at all. If you took the test and found that your prep material didn’t adequately prepare you, a retake is a good idea. Make sure that this time, you use better resources. A good place to start is with the PowerPrep tests. Since these are put out by ETS, they’re the best way to familiarize yourself with the testing environment. Similarly, consider these GRE prep courses or our favorite GRE prep books

Were my scores really close, but still under, the mid-range for the programs I plan to apply?

If your scores are within 5-10 points of the midrange for your preferred school, you’ll want to consider a retake. Your second test time will ideally yield better results. Improving your score will make you a competitive candidate when you fill out your applications. Check out some of these average GRE scores for top grad programs. 

Related: Your Guide to 2,200+ Free GRE Practice Questions 

Will Schools Know How Many Times You Retake the GRE?

You can use the GRE ScoreSelect program to send the GRE scores that you choose to your preferred schools. Every time you retake the GRE, you have the option of choosing what scores schools see. Schools won’t see any scores you choose not to send. They won’t even know that these scores exist.

If you take the GRE three times and decide to send only one of the scores, the school will only know that you’ve taken the GRE once. You can use the ScoreSelect program for both GRE Subject Tests and the General GRE.

Costs of Retaking the GRE

There are literal costs to retaking the GRE. If you are testing in the United States, each testing attempt costs $160. If you’re testing in any other location, each testing attempt costs $190. There are limited fee waivers available, but the chances that you’ll have a retake fee waived is low.

You’ll also need to pay for prep materials, especially if your previous prep materials were inadequate. Similarly, you might want to pay for a tutor to help you. Take into account the amount of time that the retake costs, not only during the test itself, but during your study period as well.

How to Improve Your GRE Retake Score

Make a new study schedule you can stick to.

It’s better to set aside study periods each week than to cram right before the test. The GRE covers a huge amount of material. You’ll want to choose a GRE test date that allows you enough time schedule in solid study sessions. Make sure you have adequate time to review the subjects you’re shaky on. Don’t overwhelm yourself, either; it’s important that you can stick to your study schedule.

Take a practice GRE test and focus on weaknesses.

When you’re targeting your study sessions, it helps to know what areas require the most study. If you take a practice GRE test, you’ll be able to see which areas you struggle most with. Dedicate ample study time to reviewing these sections.

Consider new prep methods.

Maybe you should invest in new preparatory books. You might also want to consider hiring a GRE tutor, or even taking a GRE prep course. The study methods that work for you will vary depending on your learning style. Just make sure that the methods you use are relevant to the test.

In Conclusion

How many times can you take the GRE? You’re allowed up to five test periods within 365 days, as long as there’s 21 days between each test. However, whether you should retake the GRE will vary depending on your scores, study methods, and ideal school requirements. You should make sure you have relevant study materials and consider investing in a tutor. Most of all, don’t worry! You have the option to choose what scores schools see, so a retake won’t damage your chances of admission.

Did you find this post How Many Times Can You Take the GRE? helpful? We hope so! Let us know any other concerns or questions you may have about GRE retakes by commenting below.

Keep Reading:

What to bring to the GRE