When Should I Take the GRE?

When Should I Take the GRE?As a college student with an interest in going to graduate school, you might wonder when you should take the GRE. The GRE is the General Records Examination, which is a type of standardized test that is similar to the ACT or SAT that you took in high school. It tests your knowledge in several key areas, which shows schools some of the knowledge and skills you have. In addition to knowing when to take the test, you may want to know a little more about the test itself.

What is the GRE?

The GRE is an extensive examination that consists of three key areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The verbal reasoning section gives you a short passage or story that you read and then a series of questions you must answer based on that reading. In the quantitative reasoning section, you will answer simple and more difficult math questions. Though the GRE also has a writing section, which asks you to write essay responses to a series of questions given, most graduate schools care more about your scores on the other two sections.

Why Take the Test?

Graduate schools usually have a limited number of spaces open to new students and want to ensure that only the best students receive acceptance letters. When filling out applications to those schools, you typically need a college transcript, proof that you graduated from an accredited college or university and several letters of recommendation from your college professors, supervisors at work or your peers. Many programs also require that you take the exam and submit your scores. A high score on the GRE shows that you have the skills necessary to do well at the graduate level (please also see: Cheapest Online Colleges for Master’s Degrees).

Tips for Taking the Test

U.S. News & World Report recommends that you prepare for the GRE with a practice test and a test prep course. A test prep course goes over each section of the exam in depth and gets you prepared to take each of those sections. Many of the practice tests now available include questions found on previous editions of the test and questions similar to those you will find on the actual test. Take the practice test first, which gives you an idea of where you scored the highest and shows you which areas you need to work harder on before taking the real GRE.

When to Take It

The best time to take the GRE depends on when you apply to graduate school. Most schools have a deadline in place and require that you complete all steps associated with the application process before that deadline. You need to ensure that you give the testing board at least 30 days to grade your exam and submit the results to the graduate school. If you think that you’ll want to retake the test, take it early in the fall of your senior year in college. Many students take the exam during their junior year and again in their senior year.

Taking the GRE is just one thing you need to do before applying to graduate school. Your results may help you get into your dream school and land a teaching or research position, too. Plan to take the GRE late in your junior year or early in your senior year of college.