By: Apex GMAT
Date: February 22, 2021
There it is. A 163 Verbal and a 165 Quantitative. Not what you wanted, but pretty damn good. Should you keep the score or cancel it? Do you take the exam again, after all the agony, or hope that it will be enough?
GRE test takers face these questions each time they sit the exam, and there is no one size fits all answer. There are many factors to consider, from your personal situation, available time, career and graduate school goals, and the draw of being done with the GRE.
You Are Not Your GRE Score
Let’s begin with a more general premise: YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRE SCORE. As much as some might have you believe so, your GRE score is not the be-all-end-all of your life, self-worth, or graduate school candidacy. It’s important to keep this fact in mind, and what follows from it – while a strong GRE score is necessary to demonstrate academic skill and preparedness for a graduate program, a strong score is not enough, especially if you’re applying to a top-ranked program.
Something that almost no one will tell you – nearly everyone struggles on the GRE and spends months preparing. We often see clients from top consulting and banking firms who insist on not recommending us to others because they don’t want anyone they work with to know that they needed help!
How The Admissions Committees View Your Score
An admissions committee is looking at your entire profile – your resume, recommendations, accomplishments, and presentation in an interview setting. While they use the GRE to determine how well they believe you’ll thrive in the academic parts of the graduate school program, they’re really looking at the individual when making a decision.
Admissions committees want to see you at your best, so having a second score on your score report, or even speaking about your struggles on the GRE and how you overcame them can work as a positive to your application. Many programs are also willing to “super score” – taking the best subsections and combining them into the best possible score, and, especially on the quantitative, want to make sure that you’ll be able to handle the rigors of the program. Having an inferior score on your score report is a lot like running a race slowly… no one cares about your worst time, they only care about your best. You might be tired, ill, have a nail in your shoe, or some other calamity, so only your best time represents your capability, and admissions committees know this. So when should you retake the GRE? Well ask yourself the following question before you make that decision:
What Does This Increase Really Mean To You?
Another factor to consider is how much an incremental increase in your GRE score will be compared with spending the time elsewhere – adding another activity to your resume, spending more time on crafting your essays, or even feeling better by going out and seeing friends more regularly so you don’t absolutely freaking lose it!
These are real considerations, and being well rounded in fact, not just on paper, will provide a notable enhancement to your ability to market yourself effectively and accomplish your goals – career, romantic, and otherwise. Are you really prepared to give so much up for a number on a piece of paper?
Why Should You Retake The GRE?
On the other hand, perhaps you had an off day, or perhaps it is really important to you to crack that top score because your brother/partner/boss got there and you want to be in that same rarefied air. There’s nothing wrong with that, and that drive can be a healthy one. Retaking the exam, especially after significant preparation, represents an extra $205 GRE retake fee and an afternoon. Additional retakes are “free” relative to the time and commitment you’ve spent to get to the first exam, so to the extent, it’s not damaging to your mental health, relationships, and lifestyle, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t take the exam one or more additional times. Admissions committees can’t see that you’ve canceled your scores, so don’t worry about looking try-hard. Besides, like everything in life, you’re doing it for you, right?
GRE Retake Strategy
In the end, there is no right or wrong answer, just the answer that is right or wrong for you. Consult with your family, partner, friends, and colleagues. If you’re working with a professional tutor, they should be able to provide you perspective as well, especially since they’ve seen this many times before, and maybe have gone through it personally. If you would like to talk about your GRE prep or retaking the GRE with an Apex instructor leave us your details.