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Keith: Why You Should Take the GRE Twice

Here’s Keith’s advice for preparation and test day, based on his exam experience. If you’d like to read others like these, or submit your own write-up after you take your exam, head over to our Student New GRE Experiences page. Enjoy!

“I’ve taken the new GRE twice now.  My first test was in October, my second was December 15th, and both were in Colorado.  I did not use Magoosh prior to my first test, primarily because I did not want to spend more money (which, as you will see, was a horrible mistake).  I instead purchased a few inexpensive books (one McGraw Hill and two Princeton Review), and did all of my studying with those.  I studied for about one month prior to my first exam, using only said books and their accompanying DVDs.

To cut to the chase, I did not get the scores that I needed on that attempt.  I received a 152 quant and a 163 verbal.  I needed a much higher quant score, and so left the exam having decided that my future was hopeless, and that I might as well become a hobo and embark on a bicycle ride of indefinite length toward Mexico.  However, I gave that a few weeks to simmer down, registered to retake the test, and purchased access to Magoosh.

To cut to the next chase, Magoosh was a tremendous help!  My quant score went from 152 to 165, which appears to be sufficient for the program I am applying to.  I studied by setting up mock tests (quant only–20 questions in 35 minutes, on quiz mode).  When I completed each section of 20 questions, I would inspect my results (on the “view results” screen) to see if I could determine any patterns in my mistakes.  If I noticed that I was consistently getting bad results in a certain topic, then I would create a short set of problems consisting only of this topic.  You can do this from the “practice” page, accessible from your dashboard.  I would also watch the lessons on the problem topic, several times if need be, and closely examine the video solutions.  If I could not find any patterns in my mistakes, I would just keep practicing.

I am sure that some of my improvement can be attributed to the fact that this was my second attempt, and that I was necessarily less nervous.  I would recommend that everybody take the test twice (no I do not work for ETS).  The second time around the whole thing was familiar and I was much more comfortable.  It made more of a difference than I expected.  However, comfort was not the only factor.  Magoosh’s mock tests taught me how to budget time in a way that working off of paper books could not do.  The video solutions and lessons also taught me plenty of shortcuts that saved time on exam day.  I believe these time related strategies were the single most important factor in raising my score.

What would I have done differently?  I would have used Magoosh the first time around!  It would have saved me untold (and irrational) emotional anguish, $80 worth of books, and a $160 test fee.

Best of luck to you!  Keep practicing!”

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

17 Responses to Keith: Why You Should Take the GRE Twice

  1. Deepak October 14, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi, I have decided to take GRE 2 times. I know that I have to wait for 21 days before I can take the exam again, but is there wait period registering again? or can I register for both exams in the same day?

    Sometimes, if you are not lucky, its hard to get dates when you need. So I wondering if I can register to take up GRE twice, one in October and one in November.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 18, 2016 at 3:24 am #

      Hi Deepak,

      To the best of my knowledge you can register for multiple exams as long as they are at least 21 days apart. 🙂

  2. Kristina C. September 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi all,
    I already took the test twice. Is it “bad form” for the reader of the scores to see I took it three times?


  3. Kristina C. September 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    Hi all,
    I have already taken the test twice, what is your opinion.. should i take it again? I don’t – Is it “bad form” for the reader of the scores to see that I had to try three times?


  4. Jimmy April 9, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    That hobo reference cracked me up so much! =))

    I am in the same boat, 152 in Quant on my first attempt. Used just the usual stuff like you did. I was getting 156s in the mock tests before I took the the actual test.

    I knew about magoosh but there wasn’t enough time left after I had booked for the test.

    Now I will take up magoosh’s 1000 question bank offer and give it another shot. Your transformation story has inspired me.

  5. Sean August 7, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    OK Magoosh… the moment of truth.

    I took the GRE on Saturday, July 27th and did not get the results I was expecting — granted I could not get motivated to study.

    I am a CPA so I feel I have the ability to do well on the quantitative section, but only scored a 155 — less than anticipated. My verbal… not so much… 151. I’m looking for a combined score of 320 and I have a month to prepare. I’m going to try and stick to the 1-month GRE study plan posted by Mike in the “Resources” tab.

    I’ll keep you posted on my results…

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette August 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Hi, Sean

      The one month plan is great! Also, remember to keep an eye on the score predictor on your dashboard as you go :).

      Feel free to let us know if there’s anything we can help you with!


  6. Jayashree May 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I took Revised GRE in sept 2011 and scored really very less and i couldnt concentrate much on practice tests as im working professional so please help me out as in where will i get the practice tests so that i will take and learn about my mistakes .I had purchased few books but none worked and especially verbal i am not able learn the words as there are many to grasp .Im planning to take up GRE again in august and want to apply for spring intake.Please help me.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris May 15, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Hi Jayashree,

      Sorry to hear your first time around didn’t go well :(. Have you considered Magoosh yet? We are entirely computer-based so you can take our lesson videos and practice questions with you anywhere you go (that works very well with an on-to-go lifestyle).

      Try us out if you are not sure. We offer a free trial, so there is nothing to lose :).

      Let me know if I can answer any other questions!

  7. Khan April 17, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Hey Chris,
    I am planning to give GRE again after a dismal effort by me 3 years back. This time I want to really give it a go and get a good score. I came though Maghoosh and was really impressed by the reviews and the style of giving lessons.I think this can really help me I am working 5 days a week. I wanted to ask how can we maximise the content given in the gre program by maghoosh?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      Hi Khan,

      I’m glad you are enjoying Magoosh :). In your shoes – working full-time – GRE prep can be difficult, but not impossible. My credo is a little every day can go a long way. I’ve had many students who cram on weekends but rarely study during the week day. Following this approach is not very effective as your brain seems to forget much of what it has learned.

      Instead, wake up 20 minutes earlier every day – if possible – and dedicate this time to GRE prep. Then, when you come home, spend another 45 minutes. Also, during the day, whenever possible, take advantage of downtime to study vocabulary. While this may not seem like much, within 5 days, you will between 6 – 8 hrs of prep. Then when the weekend comes your brain will already be in GRE mode, ready to learn.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Chris Lele
    Chris March 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Hi Madan, is great for online flashcards. And if you want even more context on words, check out It takes words from major newspapers, magazines, and books. seems like a great program. But I am a not a visual learner so I am not sure how effective it is. I like to read words, visualize them in my own head, then use them or make connections between them. But if works for you, then def. use it :).

  9. Madan February 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I am using Magoosh and following the strategies of Princeton Review, using Magoosh to take Verbal practice tests. Some questions I can answer correctly, but most of the questions I cannot answer precisely, because I don’t understand the meaning of two or more of the answer choices and some of the words in the question itself. The vocabulary I am learning daily is not overlapping with the words used in the questions and answers. Can you please give some ideas to overcome my problem?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris February 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      The truth is you will have to learn many, many words to see significant overlap, either on the Magoosh questions or on the actual GRE. Look up words that you encounter that you don’t know. Make them part of your active vocabulary. Learning vocabulary for the GRE is not easy, and will take a lot of patience. Where are you currently learning words from?

      • Madan Kumar March 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. I am learning words from NYTIMES and words from the tests which I took in Magoosh, and Princeton. Now I’ve started learning words from “”.Please let me know if I should learn from some other books or online materials.

  10. manoj January 19, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    I have a week until my original GRE revised test. I’m feeling a little tense about my scores. I’m taking mock tests every day, but I can’t seem to get up to the mark. I don’t know how to proceed – all suggestions are invited. Thanks for your reply!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris January 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Hi Manoj,

      Believe it or not, taking mocks tests every day will actually hurt you – and nowhere is this more true than with the Revised GRE test. Let me explain.

      First, mock tests should be used to help you focus on your weak spots. Doing so takes time. You will want to understand why you are making certain mistakes and you will want to shore up your fundamentals. Taking a practice test every day means you are probably making the same mistakes in reasoning, etc.

      So step back from a practice test and use it to grow. A practice once a week is ideal, and then perhaps twice a week when you near test day.

      Finally, I mentioned how taking a mock test every day is particularly ill-suited for the Revised GRE. The truth is there are not enough reputable practice tests to go around. I’m not sure which material you are using but I would not stray from official material (out of which you can squeeze a few tests) and, to an extent, Manhattan GRE material.

      If you are only taking Kaplan and Princeton Review practice tests, you will be in for a shock test day. It’s like a boxer who practices against his little brother and then, fight day, goes against Muhammed Ali. You will get knocked out.

      So instead of taking practice tests every day spread them out. Use the time in between to figure out your errors in reasoning. If you are stumped, ask me. Post on

      Even if you have only a week left – as is your case – take advantage of this method.

      Hope that helps!

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