What to consider before a GRE retake, part I

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If you're thinking about retaking the GRE (The Graduate Record Examinations), even if you haven't yet taken it for the first time, that's fantastic. Really: even ETS, the test-maker, admits that most test-takers will find that they get a higher score by taking the exam twice.

This is most likely in part to decreased test anxiety - after all, you've done this before - and increased prep time. So yes, generally, retaking the GRE is a good idea. But it isn't always! And when it is, there are a few important considerations you need to take into account before you go scanning through GRE test datesHere are the most important things you need to keep in mind before a GRE retake.

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How much did you prep for the first exam?

Were you pressed for time, maybe because of college exams, family commitments, or even a full-time job? If you weren't able to prep enough for your first test, ask yourself: what's changed? If your schedule is fundamentally the same as it was the first time around, you may not be able to make the huge leaps and bounds you hope for on a retake in a short amount of time.

On the other hand, now you know the time commitment involved in preparing for a high GRE score, so, if time allows (see below) you can schedule your retake far enough out that you'll be able to put in enough work at your own pace.

Do you know what brought your score down the first time?

The GRE exam is a tricky little (well, big) beast in terms of its form and content. Examine your score reports closely. Which sections brought your score down? Do you know what question types within those sections gave you the most trouble? Did you run out of time? Did you have a panic attack, or experience high levels of anxiety? Diagnose what happened during the last exam before you plan for your retake, or you'll be, to use an antiquated expression, throwing good money after bad.

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