Is It Worthwhile to Retake the GRE?

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Is It Worthwhile to Retake the GRE?


It is not a bad thing to retake a GRE test. It also does not speak against your academic abilities. Acing the GRE test is not only based on a person’s level of intelligence but also on how intelligently he/she prepares for it. As an applicant for the GRE test, you may be wondering “how many times should I take the GRE?”

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However, before answering this, you need to consider three crucial factors. These factors include the following:

  • A GRE computer-based test can only be taken once every 21 days. A paper-based test can be taken as many times as it is offered.
  • An applicant is allowed to take a computer-based GRE test up to five times in a year subject to the above condition.
  • If an applicant decides to cancel his/her GRE scores, it still counts about the above two conditions. The next date, such an applicant, can retake his/her test is 21 days after the initial date. The applicant can also take the test up to five times a year.

After this is done, you can now proceed to answer the question. I will be examining five situations in which an applicant should or should not retake the GRE test below.

Is It Worthwhile to Retake the GRE

How Many Times Should I Take the GRE Test?

Everybody has different goals, reasons or stories which could make them want to take the GRE test more than once. I will examine five situations below. This way, you can identify yourself in any of the groups. Afterwards, you will know whether you should take the test more than once or more times than you already have

The Goal of Achieving a Perfect Score:

It is only normal to have a target score for your GRE. Hence, the reason applicants retake the GRE tests. If you are determined to have that perfect score, then you can write the GRE test more than once. An applicant can write the GRE up to five times a year. However, it should be noted that the GRE does not repeat questions. So if you are retaking the test, hoping to come across problems, you have answered previously, then sorry to disappoint you. But, your experience in taking the GRE test could help you get better scores when next you take it.

On the other hand, if you have perfect scores in your GRE, perhaps something close to your target score, retaking the test may not be advisable. This is because the time you will take to gather other documents required for applying to the graduate school of your choice will be spent preparing to retake the GRE test.

If you already have a perfect set of scores, take the next step in perhaps, searching for a professor to help you prepare an attractive recommendation letter instead. This is because it is not sure you will still achieve your target score. Use your time wisely.

Is It Worthwhile to Retake the GRE

Short Preparation Time:

Most applicants asking the question, “how many times should I take the GRE”, are concerned about their previously obtained GRE scores. Perhaps you had a short amount of time to prepare for your test. Therefore, you do not feel satisfied with your eventual scores.

It is advised that you re-apply for the GRE test a few months before the exam date. This way, you get to prepare correctly and can now retake the GRE tests. Know what sections gave you the most problems and improve on them.

Schools do not know how many times you have taken the GRE; neither do they ask. So you could easily pick the result with the best scores to apply for the graduate school of your choice.

You Used Low-Quality Study Materials:

Perhaps while preparing for your first GRE test, you used low-quality materials. Maybe you were unaware of the materials designed explicitly for the GRE. Perhaps you were unaware of online mock tests, or apps that aid in preparation for individual sections of the exam.

You could retake the GRE test for these reasons. This way, you could take advantage of the things you missed out on while preparing for your previous GRE test. Then you can prepare better and more efficiently to achieve better scores in your next test. This time, remember to ensure the official GRE materials are part of your study materials.

You Have Taken the Test a Few Times Before:

 If you have taken the GRE up to three or four times of the five times you can take GRE in a year, then perhaps you need a break. It is possible you need more than just paper experience on the areas you may not be getting your desired scores. You could get a job related to such areas and gain practical experience in it. This way, the next time you come to retake the GRE, you will be coming with more experience in that area. Then you can achieve your desired score.

Is It Worthwhile to Retake the GRE

As Many Times as is Okay with You:

What matters is your comfort. If you are determined to achieve a specific set of scores in the GRE, then you can keep attempting the GRE until you finally get what you want. You should, however, note that this shouldn’t be to the detriment of other areas of your life such as time, health, dedication to work (academic or professional), etc. Always try to know when it is time to stop. Do not become a GRE obsessed machine. But in the same vein, it is okay to work towards achieving your goal.


Taking the GRE test multiple times does not speak against your capabilities in the areas you are tested. Only one set of scores will be sent to the graduate school you are applying for. You can take the GRE test up to five times a year. This can be done after 21 days of taking the test if it is a computer-based GRE General Test. But for the paper-based GRE General Test, you can take the test as many times as it is offered.

While taking and retaking the GRE test, you should know when it is time to stop. You cannot afford to become a GRE test-taking zombie. Try to achieve your goal, but know when to take a break if things are not working out as planned.

About the author

Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.