“Should I Retake the GRE?”

Let’s say you took the old GRE a couple years ago, and are thinking about applying to graduate schools this fall.  Should you take the new GRE if you already took the old GRE?

All GRE scores, from the old and the new test, are valid for five years after you’ve taken the test, and the departments we contacted have indicated they will continue to accept old GRE scores as long as they are valid.  So, if you took the old GRE within the last five years, and are happy with your old score, there’s no reason to retake the test.  If you’re looking to score higher, though, you might want to consider retaking the exam.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) boast several benefits unique to the new GRE that are supposed to make it more friendly to test-takers.  Unlike on the old GRE, the new GRE allows you to skip around a section and answer questions in the order you prefer.  The next verbal or quantitative section will get easier or harder based on your overall performance on the previous section.  The new GRE also offers a very basic, 4-function and square root calculator for the quantitative section.

How can this help you? If you’re the type of test-taker who likes to skip around a section and tackle the easier problems before you dive into the more challenging ones, the new GRE format should be extremely beneficial.  The fact that the computerized test now adjusts its difficulty after each section instead of after each question should also keep you from getting penalized too heavily for getting a single question incorrect.  This could be particularly beneficial in the verbal section if you know your vocabulary but are stumped by one set of tough words you haven’t seen before.

Despite these benefits, there are still components of the new GRE that could make it harder.  The “analyze an issue” section is now 30 minutes instead of 45, meaning you have less time to write your first essay.  You are also given just one “analyze an issue” prompt instead of two.  Some of the new question types may be harder, too, as some questions have more than one correct answer.  Test-takers are expected to select all of the correct answers to a question in both the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections.

Does this mean the new test is harder? Not necessarily, but it does mean that, even if you took the old test, you need to prepare differently for the new one.  If you took the old GRE while you were still in school and you haven’t been in school for a couple years, you especially need to make sure to review and prepare so you remember all the material you may have forgotten.  You certainly wouldn’t want to take the test and score lower!  Need some specialized preparation before you tackle the new GRE?  Check out Test Master’s proven GRE preparation courses, which guarantee to increase your score by at least 10 points.

Want a detailed breakdown of each section on the new GRE? Check it out, here.

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2 Responses to “Should I Retake the GRE?”

  1. Trey says:

    Is taking the GRE pointless if you took it three times in the past few years, and not happy with any of the scores.

    • Bill says:


      It is not. The ETS, the makers and administrators of the GRE, have a policy for score reporting known as ScoreSelect. ScoreSelect essentially allows you to designate which GRE score reports are sent to which universities or institutions. This means that you can take the GRE as many times as you want (or, in actuality, as many times as you are allowed, which is once every 21 days, up to 5 times in any 12 month period) and then choose to use only your highest score for admission.

      Hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions!


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