Improving your GRE Score: Why and How?


5 mins read9.9K Views
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jul 30, 2022 10:40 IST

So you have written your GRE, spent hours and hours and perhaps even loads of money but the result is not that impressive. Apart from leaving you a bit dejected, a poor score often leaves you with the dilemma…should you re-write the exam or should you go ahead with the present score? There are confusing accounts about how GRE scores are not all that important and the final decision would rest on a combination. And you are confused…whether another attempt is warranted or should you simply go with the present score? Here’s a look at whether you should or shouldn’t re-take the exam and also if you decide to take it, what to do to improve your score.

Retake GRE or not?

To begin with, it is important to understand how a GRE is marked, how the scores are assessed and what you should consider before deciding to re-write the exam. Here’s a quick recap:


Score Range

Verbal Reasoning

130 – 170, on a 1 point increment

Quantitative Reasoning Score

130 – 170, on a 1 point increment

Analytical Writing

0 – 6, in half-point increments

You could be at 290 and not wanting to re-write the exam or even at 310 and desirous of taking the exam once again. Your score is not what truly matters, it is how you stack up with the competition that matters in the end. The final answer would be yours, but we urge you to consider the following before deciding whether or not you should write the GRE again:

1. The average GRE scores accepted at the university you plan to apply to

Say for instance you wish to apply for a certain course X in Z University in some country which clearly mentions a cut off for GRE score. In that situation, the answer would depend on how sincerely you wish to get into that university. If you are really keen, then you have no alternative but to take the test again.

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2. Your Percentile Rank

The GRE Score card would depict your percentile rank as well. If the percentile is fairly decent, you need not fuss over your score but if it is in the range of 80, re-writing the GRE exam would be advisable.

3. Your overall Application

Another factor that you must pay due consideration to is your overall application. In case you have had an exceptional academic record or perhaps you have been an exceptional sports person or a leader in your community…assess your application on a whole. It is important to iterate that GRE is only a part of your application. Furthermore, it is an integral part of your application. So if you are confident that a low GRE score would be compensated by your other academic/ co-scholastic achievements, you can avoid taking the test again.

Remember, GRE is an indicator or your aptitude and not you on a whole. Also, every student knows how much effort went into the preparation. Before you decide, be honest and assess whether you gave it your very best or were you simply lazy. Think if you could have done better and be honest about it. And plan to take the test again when you are absolutely not happy with the score received vis a vis the effort put in.

What to do differently in order to improve your GRE Score?

So you have assessed and decided that you would rather re-take the test. Brilliant! It is no easy commitment and has no true downsides to it. You can always choose to share whichever score you wish to share with the University. But since it is a considerably expensive test, you would want to be better off on the second attempt. Here are a few things you can do to improve your scores

1. Take a different approach

Always remember, writing an exam again is not just about your verbal reasoning or your quantitative reasoning. It comes down to the speed as well. If given the freedom, your mind would come to the right answer…the trick to cracking any exam is how quickly you can do it. And it is not always about how well your concepts are but also how you cope with the stress of a time-bound environment. Taking up classes would probably help your mind simulate the same environment, hone it better and prepare it for the final test.

Alternatively, self-study might be the thing required. You might be the person who needs to be away from the constant competition and excitement of classroom coaching to improve your response time.

2. Always take a prep time before the re-take

Even if you simply wish to rewrite the exam because you were not able to perform in the first one due to some unforeseen circumstances, we strongly recommend that you prepare before the second attempt. The pattern remains the same, your understanding remains the same but writing an exam often brings to the fore the areas where you were lacking. So take some prep time and then retake the exam. A week would not considerably dent your application deadlines, so take your time.

3. Address your areas of weakness, learn new tools

The score would have clearly defined where you lack. In case your quantitative reasoning score was good but verbal reasoning left much to be desired, it is time to improve your vocabulary.

Both the sections – be it verbal or quantitative, have their own unique requirements and can be addressed in a simple manner. Remember, verbal reasoning is all about how good your vocabulary is. Similarly, quantitative reasoning is about how quickly you process simple mathematical concepts and numbers. While the first section can be improved by vociferous reading and learning new words, for quantitative sections, nothing works more than practice.

Also, especially for the quantitative reasoning section, there are tools that help you like back solving and quick mathematical calculation tables. Improve your skills with the help of these tools and you are sure to improve your score.

About the Author
Written by
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio

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