Many prospective graduate students find themselves taking the GRE multiple times to improve their scores. That said, the ETS does place some restrictions that limit how often they may attempt higher scores.
So how many times can you take the GRE?
The answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a single, quantifiable figure. The ETS only administers the test on specific dates, and there are limitations to how often you can take the GRE in a calendar year. Not to mention, graduate school application deadlines may also affect the time you have.
If you want to find out what’s the best GRE Prep Course for you, then check out our Best GRE Prep Course here.
Here, we discuss all the factors related to how often students can take the GRE and whether it is worth taking the exam multiple times.
Can You Take the GRE Multiple Times?
Luckily, test-takers who didn’t perform as well as they would’ve liked on their first attempt can re-take the GRE again in the hopes of improving their score.
There is no limit to the total number of times an individual can attempt the GRE in their lifetime. Instead, the ETS limits the number of times a person may take the exam five times in one year.
Theoretically, an applicant can take the exam as many times as they need in their life until they get a satisfactory score. However, that doesn’t mean retaking it multiple times is always advisable or even feasible.
Besides the five-time cap in a calendar year, you’ll also need to factor in the stipulated waiting period between re-takes and the ETS schedule for GRE dates.
How Long Do You Have to Wait Between Exams?
Besides the cap on retakes within 365 days, there is a required waiting period of 21 days between each exam attempt.
This waiting period gives the applicant ample time to study the areas they need to improve, while still being soon enough to meet most graduate school deadlines.
Suppose a prospective graduate student has graduate school applications due in early December to early January. This person can take the test in September and re-take it in October to have their scores reported early enough for the applications.
For you to have more idea, see our post on How Long Is The GRE here.
Can You Take the GRE Any Time?
If you wish to re-take the GRE, you’ll also need to consider the registration deadlines, test dates, and score reporting dates.
The GRE is not available year-round, so you’ll need to plan early enough to take the exams and have enough leeway to retake them.
Also, when scheduling your retakes, keep in mind the deadlines of the graduate programs. If you are hoping to start graduate school in the coming semester, you need to make sure your exam retake is scheduled in advance of the date that the program needs your scores.
Otherwise, you could have to wait another year to apply for your desired program, or you may even have to consider other options with later deadlines.
Want to know if you are allowed to bring a calculator on the GRE? See our post on Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE here.
Related Topic: How Long Does it Take to Get & Send GRE Scores
Should You Take the GRE More Than Once?
Taking the GRE multiple times is not at all uncommon. Universities will look at your best score when they review your applications. While they can see if you’ve taken the exam more than once, this does not necessarily reflect poorly on your chances of getting accepted.
Taking the test the first time is usually enough for students to improve their scores on the second attempt since they’ll know what to expect and where they need to improve. Having the highest score you can get is the most critical thing for graduate school applications.
The negative consequences of retaking the GRE are the heavy financial costs associated with it. There is a required fee for the GRE general test that you’ll have to pay every time you take the exam, with the fee contingent on where the student takes the test. It’s certainly in your best interest to do well in as few attempts as possible to avoid high test-taking fees.
You may also visit our post on How Hard Is The GRE for more information about the GRE
What’s the Best Way to Prepare for Re-Taking the GRE?
If you find yourself needing to take the GRE a second time, be deliberate with your planning. Make sure you schedule your retake exam far enough in the future that you have adequate time to prepare.
Test prep specialists usually recommend studying for two to four months before taking the general GRE. Between test dates, put some more time into your study routine and increase your focus on the exam sections where you underperformed on your first attempt.
You can see our comparison and conversion guide of the GRE vs LSAT here.
Hopefully, this guide has answered your question of how many times can you take the GRE? Retaking the exam is permissible and even advisable if you didn’t get the score you wanted on the first take. Just note the various factors affecting the timing to give yourself enough time to study and meet the graduate school deadlines.
Ultimately, it is in your best interest to get your desired score with relatively few retakes to improve your chances of getting into the graduate school of your choice.