Students who are preparing for graduate school will most likely need to take the GRE. Some experts may claim there is an optimal time, but these tests are offered every day of the year, so each student must consider their own specific situation.
In order to know when you will be ready for the GRE, you must also know when you will be attending graduate school. Some experts think that the best time to take the GRE is during the first year of college. This argument is based on the fact that the GRE is similar to the SAT, so students will have already sharpened up their math and vocab skills. Since GRE scores only last five years, it’s actually best to take the GRE after you have been in school for a few years, but before the pressures of graduation build up.
The GRE test is offered year round, but application deadlines for most graduate programs are in December or January. This means that your application must be finished by the end of November and that the GRE should be taken during the summer. Remember to take the GRE a few months before the application in order to give yourself time to re-take the test if needed. Bear in mind that students must wait 21 days before taking the GRE a second time.
There are many self-help books that guide readers through the test. There are also excellent online resources that provide GRE practice tests. For example, The Princeton Review offers free full-length practice tests that are administered under the same conditions as the actual tests. Students will receive a customized score that highlights their strengths and weaknesses. The Princeton Review also offers strategy sessions and free classes.
The GRE is scored on a 130 to 170 point scale in each section. Every degree program will have different GRE score requirements. A competitive score that will put you in the top 25 percent of all test takers are 158 to 162 verbal, 15- to 164 quantitative and 4.5 writing scores. The top 10 percent of test takers will earn 163 to 170 verbal, 165 to 170 quantitative and 5.0 writing scores. Certain graduate degree programs, such as an online degree in diplomacy, management and doctor of medicine, have high admissions standards. Because of high competition, students may need high GRE scores to be accepted into these programs.
Those who plan on attending graduate school after finishing their degree should take the GRE during their junior year, but those who want to work for a few years should wait until their senior year.
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