If you’re one of the many students looking to make it to the grad school of your choice in the USA, then you’ll surely be engrossed in your GRE Exam preparations right now. Deciding upon your strategy to give the GRE Exam not only requires you to prepare adequately for the exam, but also requires you to plan in advance to as to when will you actually take the test. Since the GRE Exam scores are valid for a period of 5 years only, it is very important to choose the right time to take the exam. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some of the parameters that will help you decide the best time to take the GRE Exam.
When Will You be Attending Grad School?
While there is no conventional best time to take the GRE Exam, it is essential that you take the test keeping in mind your future academic options. As the GRE Exam score is valid for a period of 5 years, you should only take it at the time when you’re absolutely sure of pursuing your education. However if you plan on working for a couple of years after college, be sure to not take the test in the first year itself as it can put a constraint on your professional aspirations.
What is the Application Date for Target Programs?
The most important factor that determines the ideal time to take the GRE Exam is the application deadline for the universities that you’re targeting. Missing the deadline due to unavailability of GRE Exam scores can potentially set you back by a full academic year. If one is targeting the fall semester, then your application should be ready to meet the November-December deadlines. For this, it is ideal that you take the GRE Exam sometime in June-July, which will provide you with enough time to get your score and prepare a strong application by the time the deadline comes. If you have not shortlisted your final target schools, you can also keep a tentative deadline of November 15th, making sure that you’re eligible for most schools.
Time Spent in GRE Exam Preparation
While the ideal way to decide your GRE Exam date is with respect your college guidelines, one way to find out the right time to take the exam can also be your level of preparation. The GRE Exam preparation requires a minimum of 2-3 months of preparation and you should only focus on giving the exam after you have duly put in the time and prepared well for it.
Number of Retakes
While it is important to focus on getting your target score in the first attempt while taking the GRE Exam, it is advisable to keep a buffer for any potential retakes that you may have to do. Since you must wait 21 full days to retake the GRE, you should take your first attempt at least more than 21 days before your application is due
Keep in mind that you can take the GRE Exam once every 21 days up to 5 times within any continuous rolling 12 month period. While there are a lot of dates for taking the GRE Exam and no particular date is better than the other, the above information will help you in planning your preparation in the best way possible and will allow you to proceed with your applications in an ideal manner.