Wondering when you should take this important test?
The GRE is required for many master’s and doctoral program applications across the U.S. Maybe you’re like me, and you know that you’re definitely going to be applying to one of these programs. By taking the test at the right time, you can boost your score and make life easier for yourself.
In short, I’ve learned that the best time to take the GRE is during the summer break before your sophomore or junior year. This is a year or two earlier than the traditional time students take it. However, there are quite a few advantages that make this timing totally worth it.
1) You'll Know Where You Stand
Remember when you had to apply to college? How did you know which schools were “safety schools” and which were “reach schools?”
You probably based it on your high school GPA, class rank, activities, and SAT score.
Applying to grad school is similar, except GPA and GRE scores seem to be very heavily weighted. If you know where you stand by junior year, you can get a head start on your graduate school search. This can have all kinds of benefits.
2) You'll Have Time to Retake it
Let’s say that you don’t do so hot on your first round of taking the GRE. That’s not gonna happen (cause you prepared right), but let’s say it did.
If you took the test at the beginning of senior year, you are either going to be stressing like crazy to take it again, or you’re going to have to apply to grad schools with a sub-par score.
You can avoid this possibility and give yourself peace of mind by just taking the GRE early. Plus, you won’t feel as anxious on test day.
3) You'll Save your Most Important Summers
As you progress in your college journey, you’ll start to learn what you like about your major, and what you don’t. For example, you might realize that you enjoy working with older adults way more than with kids.
If you take the GRE early, you can free up the summers before your senior (and maybe even junior) year. These summers are excellent opportunities to pursue your specific interests through volunteer work, employment, or internship opportunities.
4) You'll have Learned Concepts more Recently
As college students, we typically do not review foundational math and reading skills. We are expected to know most of these concepts and now apply them to other fields.
I don’t know about you, but I blank when I am asked about certain basic concepts (especially probability… I hate probability). It’s not that the concept is extremely challenging, but that I have not used it for years.
In middle school and high school, you saw concepts like these daily. Time in college can certainly grow your problem solving and vocabulary skills. But this time can also take away from the skills you do not use (like probability).
5) You Can Cross it off the List
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Nobody likes extra having extra tasks on their mind… especially not something like a standardized test.
Take the GRE early if you’d rather spend your time and mental energy elsewhere.