You’ve studied countless hours, canceled plans with numerous friends, and even changed your diet and caffeine consumption to fuel your brain as best as possible. And yet, after all that, your final combined score result is just a 320. Not bad, but also not perfect. This score can get you into most graduate school programs, but can it get you into that elite ‘top’ school you are aiming for? If you have the resume and top-notch essay responses to back up your GRE score, then you may feel comfortable applying to your dream graduate school with that score.
But what if you are still unsure? Is it worth spending the hundreds of dollars, and continuing the stringent study plan you had just spent months trudging through to try again? Perhaps a second attempt means you will bump up your score to a 324, or maybe your second attempt will land you with a score of equal or – gulp – lesser value! After going through the cost-benefit analysis of such an undertaking, you may have decided on the undertaking of retaking the GRE.
But how do you study for the GRE the second time to guarantee a higher score?
You are not alone in asking this question, and, unfortunately, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer or study plan that can guarantee a higher score and make the retake worthwhile financially and timewise. However, there are some things you can begin doing now which can help you embark on your GRE retake journey.
1. Book the GRE retake sooner rather than later
Deciding on ‘when’ to retake the GRE can have a huge effect on your ability to succeed in the test. We suggest booking the retake sooner rather than later. This will help set a definite timeline of how long you must study and how you can expect to structure the coming weeks. Additionally, don’t wait months to retake the GRE. Once you have decided that you will retake the exam, be sure to schedule it a couple of weeks after the last test you took. While it may seem to be a time crunch, this is because you are not starting from scratch when studying for your retake. You already have a whole host of wealth stuck in your head! It will hang around for a few weeks, requiring only brief reviews and refreshers to keep the knowledge up to date.
2. Focus on your weaknesses
So, you have taken your first GRE test. You now know how you test under time pressure, and you can adjust your studying accordingly. Did you find that you struggled with the time constraints? We suggest focusing on different studying methods which will help you feel more comfortable under the time constraints. During the test you may realize that you did not study enough for certain quantitative-type questions, or your GRE vocabulary was lacking. In this case, spend time before your retake focusing on the areas you found most challenging. By no means does this mean ‘ignoring’ your strengths, rather, spend the most time on your weakness, being sure to set aside a few hours a week to review and rehash the parts of the exam you feel most comfortable with.
3. Consult with your network
Whether you recognize it or not, the people around you are important to your mental health and wellbeing. Because studying for the GRE is a mentally draining venture, relying on your network can help you get through the most difficult aspects of studying for the GRE. As you already experienced over the last few months of studying, an effective student may opt for moments of quiet study rather than social events with friends and family. This doesn’t change your second time around taking the test.
However, your friends and family may be disappointed to hear that you are extending your absences from events further to study for your second round. It is important, then, to confer with them. Let them know what you are doing and why. Perhaps someone in your network had a similar experience and they can offer you advice and tips on how to rock your second round. Additionally, do not be shy to let them know how you are feeling and how they can best support you during your studying. This can help alleviate any further stress you may accumulate during the time you sequester away over the books.
4. Get a private tutor
It may seem obvious but hiring a private tutor who specializes in the GRE can help push you to the next level. Often, your struggles with the GRE can be alleviated by the unique perspectives and solution paths a private tutor can give you. Our GRE tutors at ApexGRE specialize in working with students who want to achieve an elite score and are looking to develop the skills to do just that. We invite all interested potential clients to sign-up HERE for a complimentary consultation call where we can discuss your GRE and graduate school goals. Our tutors are happy to work with an array of clients. Whether it is their first or fifth time taking the GRE and whether they have 6 months to prepare or just a few weeks, we can work within your time frame and skill level to help you achieve your goals.
Finally, deciding to retake the GRE means countless more hours of hard work. Deciding whether it is worth it is up to you, however, being prepared for the process of retaking the GRE can help alleviate the stress of the decision.
Contributor: Dana Coggio