Should I Retake the GRE?

Yes. And no. It depends. Sure, that’s not the sort of wishy-washy answer you want to hear, but the truth is the answer depends on your own specific case. We cover a lot of that in our Retaking the GRE flowchart. If you’re totally lost in the woods, follow that link for a bit of guidance! Granted, it can’t account for every possible case, but it includes some of the questions that matter the most, many of which I’ll talk about below. And how you answer those questions will determine whether you should retake the GRE.

How hard did you prep?

A little bit of math and some reading passages. No big deal, right? Well, oftentimes students of mine have dabbled in the GRE, picking up a book here and there, and figuring the reading comprehension will take care of itself, and…then they end up coming to me the second time around, well-aware that dabbling is not going to cut it. So if you only gave it a 50% or even 70% effort, then you may want to retake the test, especially if you are willing to prep hard.

How much time do you have?

Even if the prior question resonated with you, committing the time and dedication to studying might not have been possible. Unless, you feel you are ready to attack GRE prep with a newfound vigor and intensity, you may want to reconsider taking the test.

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

Another way of interpreting this question is from the standpoint of deadlines—you need to apply to a program by a certain date. Unlike the old GRE, the new GRE requires you to wait 21 days before you can retake the test. If applications are due, retaking the test may not be feasible and you may not have a choice but to stick with your current score.

How did you prep?

Preparing for the new GRE is no easy feat. To make things worse the web is veritable blitzkrieg of quick fixes and “ultimate” vocabulary lists. Off-line things aren’t much better – most books give you the false impression that by simply reading them, your score will automatically go up.

The truth is a lot more complicated – to reach your potential you should prep with a variety of resources, both online and paper-based. Even then, some sources are helpful whereas others are harmful. So if you used a Kaplan GRE book (or Princeton Review or even Barron’s for that matter) and were shocked test day – both by the content of the test and your final score – you are not alone. There are better ways to prep. So if you do not use a combination of the best prep resources, you should definitely consider retaking the GRE.

Then of course, there are the classes. About half of all of the students I’ve tutored are casualties of the one-size-fits-all, read-from-a-script test prep classes. While you may be in this group, and feel really scammed after all the money you spent (or at least filled with this dread that you are no good at standardized tests), taking a class isn’t necessarily going to help your reach your maximum potential. There are great tutors, great on-line forums, and great study materials (like Magoosh!) to make retaking the GRE well worth your while.

How was test day?

First time walking into a testing room? The staff made you feel as though you were about to serve a ten-year jail sentence? Overcome with test jitters? (It’s natural). Hungover? (shame on you!) There are many reasons for a less than optimal score. So ask yourself, is there something unexpected that happened test day that I could somehow anticipate this time around? Even if it is simply a good night’s sleep versus four hours of fitful sleep, retake the test.

What was your score?

If you scored above the 90th percentile and you’re a perfectionist shooting for the “ultimate score” when you’ve already qualified for the program you’re most interested in, your time may be better spent working on the rest of your application (essays, letters of recommendation, etc.), especially if you’re strapped for time as deadlines approach! If you scored significantly lower than you had been performing on your practice tests and you know that there’s a lot of room for improvement if you were given a second chance, then I’d say you should buckle down and go for it. Focus on getting a solid grasp on the material, but also work on pacing and other strategies to make sure you can score to your full potential on the day of the exam.

To retake or not to retake?

Depending on how you answered these questions, you may seriously want to reconsider taking the test. The worst thing to do is to know you could have done much better—but never gave yourself the opportunity to prove this so.


Update, October 7th, 2014: Hi everyone! We’ve decided to turn the comments off on this post for now. We encourage everyone to check out this handy flowchart to help you decide whether or not you should retake the exam. And, if you have a Premium Magoosh account and would like a more personalized response, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard to contact us. 🙂 Thanks!

P.S. Ready to improve your GRE score? Get started today.

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100 Responses to Should I Retake the GRE?

  1. April September 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    After 2 weeks practice on Magoosh, I got 154 on verbal, 170 on quant and 3.0 AW. I’m happy with my quant score but the verbal and writing score is little low. I’m applying financial engineering master degree and hoping to get in the top 10. I don’t know how much a 3.0 AW would affect my application and I’m afraid that I may not be able to get a full score on quant next time. Do you think I should retake it?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi April.

      From the sound of your degree, it looks like quant is weighed heavily. A 3.0 is on the low side, esp. the top 10. I’d say take it again, if you know that you can make a significant improvement in your AWA. You’ll have to do a lot of writing and reading up on AWA, but if you feel you can hit at least a 4.5 then go for it. In the end, you can choose which score you want to send, so if the retake doesn’t go well than at least you still have the perfect 170 🙂

  2. Jessica September 30, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I have found it so helpful reading your different posts on Magoosh- you are really helpful! I was wondering what you thought of my scores, and if you have any input. I am applying for an MS degree in Food Science. My quantitative and verbal scores were both 153, and my analytical writing portion I received a 4.0.

    I know that I will receive strong letters of recommendation, and I have a 3.4 GPA. In addition, I have been apart of several large projects on campus, such as starting the Food Science club for students.

    Any thoughts? It has been really difficult finding any information on relative GRE scores for programs I am interested in. However, one school I am applying to sets a score of 153 for quant/verb to even be considered; that makes me feel like perhaps I should give the GRE another go.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Jessica,

      Glad you’ve found the blog helpful :).

      It sounds like your resume is pretty strong overall. I would definitely retake the GRE if you didn’t study much the first time around or if you did much better on your practice tests, whether or not you prepped much, than you did test day. It comes down to room for improvement.

      So if you feel you can improve a lot (which I’m sure you can :)) and you have the time to dedicate to GRE prep, aim for a retake. You wouldn’t want to be at the minimum threshold for scores if the rest of your application is strong. Upper 150’s would probably be a good goal to aim for.

      Good luck 🙂 – and feel free to shoot me any other questions!

  3. Josh September 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Took the GRE today (used Magoosh software to prep!). I scored 162 on my verbal and a disappointing 143 on quant. I am applying to PhD programs (finishing a MA now) in political science, but not at top 10 schools. My #1 pick is University of Washington, also looking at UConn, Chicago, etc.

    I’m in a bit of a unique situation. My verbal was good, but my math sucked. My combined score is 305. I’m wondering if you think it’s worth giving the GRE another shot? I am not the best math person and did spend a decent amount of prep time, and not sure if Poli Sci will want strong math versus verbal.

    Any thoughts?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 26, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Hi Josh,

      That’s a good question. Poli. Sci. really is about the verbal, but I wonder if the quant score is still a bit lacking, esp. because many applying to those schools will probably have higher quant scores. If there are other strong parts of your app. (GPA, etc.) then it may not really matter. If you feel other parts of your app. aren’t stellar, then maybe re-taking the test to try to break 150 would be worth it.

      My question: which materials did you use to prep? Given that you didn’t get much math exposure in college, you’ll want to make sure you use a prep program that gives you a solid grounding in the fundamentals.

      Let me know 🙂

    • Josh September 26, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Chris.

      I used Magoosh and also Kaplan books (two, in fact) to prep. My undergraduate GPA was 3.9 and (I’m finishing a MA in poli sci) my graduate GPA is 4.0. The funny thing is that I teach an undergraduate quantitative methods course in my department, for which I received the department’s “teaching excellence” last spring. (I think the gap in this and my scores is best explained by the fact that we use statistics more in poli sci and my big time test anxiety around quant).

      My letters are also good. So, I’m really unsure about retaking.

      Thanks again for your insight!


      • Chris Lele
        Chris Lele October 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm #


        Hopefully, I was of some help. I know how complex these decisions can be sometimes. One thing you can try, if you haven’t already: take one of the Power Prep exams at home. See if you do much better. If you do, then you might not have to prep that much. Doing well might be more a matter of getting yourself into the right mental space before the test.

        Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

  4. Wendy September 17, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    Hi Chris, thanks for a nice post. I wish I had read this post a few weeks ago before making a hasty decision to retake the test…
    On my first GRE, I’ve got Verbal 160, Quant 168, and 3.0 in writing. I am applying for Material Science Engineering for CalTech, UIUC, Northwestern, and so on. I was happy with my Verbal and Quant score, but writing 3.0 seemed too low, so I registered for a second GRE. The second test date is next Thursday, and now I am afraid that I might score lower in Verbal and Quant this time, without seeing any improvement in writing score. I am thinking about cancelling the registration to save money and at least stay at 328 with 3.0 and focus on SOPs and my lab researches. What do you think I should do? Please help.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      Hi Wendy,

      Well…that’s a hard one. You know, you can’t really know what admissions is thinking. On one level you are applying for engineering at Caltech and the like. How big of a component is writing? Yet, I can’t but help think that the AWA score has to have some impact. And a 3.0 is a little jarring, given your other scores. One thing you can do is make up for that by writing some stellar essays (of course, sometimes admissions use the AWA score to check that the same person legitimately wrote the admissions essays).

      My hunch, just reading your writing here, is you could do much better than a 3.0, if you just took a little time, ordered a book or two on the writing, and did some practice essays. The thing is you wouldn’t want to not get in and then wonder if the AWA was the big deal. If possible, retake the test while still taking time to focus on other parts of your app.

      I know that’s kind of a wishy-washy answer, but hopefully that helps 🙂

  5. Dew September 14, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I scored 144V and 166Q. I was not prepared at all. I had just one month time and what I did that I started carmming on 4750 words and I hardly read less than 15 RC in entire month. I had no resources. I just went through some 1-2 free practice test for VA and QA but skipped any RC part of test. I need to score 160+ and above 5 on AWA. i am planning to retake after 67-70 days or so. And this time I wanna put all my efforts. I want to refer all possible best resources. So focusing on only VA what other resources I must have to follow?(magoosh premium is already on my list) How much better (chances) could I score on VA if I put all efforts for more than 2 months
    I am completely aware of my weaknesses. Long RC passage, three fill ups are main pain for me. What strategies to make for better understanding of passages? I

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Hi Dew,

      It sounds like you are on the right path. For verbal, it is not just about memorizing words, you’ll want to improve your overall reading skills when it comes to dense, academic material.

      A great place to start learning about how to do well on the verbal section is our ebook (it’s free):

      That should answer many of your questions about strategies. But the short answer is yes: you will be able to improve dramatically in the next 2 months :).

      Best of luck!

  6. ali September 8, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Hey chris, my gre scores are 157 Q , 160 V 4.5 AWA and I am planning on retaking the exam. Should I go through with it considering I am aiming to apply to Electrical Engineering Grad schools? Your input will be extremely appreciated. Thankyou! 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

      Hi Ali,

      For an EE degree, you might want to bump that score up to 164-165. It would help a little, or even a lot, depending on the program. Especially if you know you can do better the second time around, I’d say retake the test. At the same time, if you feel there are other parts of your application that could use some work–and students often underestimate the importance of essays, letters of recommendation, etc.–you might want to focus there. It really comes down to how much time you have.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Majo September 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Hello! Great post btw. I need some help here please. I have Q164 and V158 and I’m aiming to MIT, I know the average percentile for both areas in my program is 90th. I’m not a native english speacker, so the verbal part is quite hard for me, but I’m sure I could do it better. In the other hand, I have a toefl of 98 when I should have an 105. What I should do? Focus more on the toefl or in the gre?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

      Hi Majo,

      I think your verbal is already pretty strong as a non-native speaker. You might want to retake the test to see if you can get an even higher score. The TOEFL, though, could be a “make or break”, so you’ll want to make sure that you get 105 or higher.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  8. rohit September 3, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    Hi chris, i have just given my gre today and scored 313( verbal 151 and quant 162). My quant went really well and i have no idea why i scored so less. Verbal i was expecting around 155-156 and i got caught up in one of the verbal sections and also wasted about 5 minutes by going to the washroom so maybe scored less because of it. My awa went really awesome and i was sure to score highly today. Also i scored 320+ in mocks. I am targetting good universities which generally accept gre scores greater than 320. If i retake my gre i wont be able to give ample time to my application as the fall deadlines are only a few months away and i wish to give toefl also. Should i retake my gre?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi Rohit,

      It seems that you are right to want to focus on your application. At the same time, it sounds like a rather chaotic test experience (going to the washroom as the timer is running can’t help your score :)). I’d recommend retaking the test without prepping as intensely as you did the first time around. But I’d also recommend taking it very soon, so your GRE skills don’t ebb. That way, you can focus on your application, yet give yourself a fair shot at having a better test day experience.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  9. preeti September 2, 2014 at 1:46 am #

    Hi chris, I gave my gre on Aug 21 n scored 150 v 159Q, 3.5 awa. My overall percentage of 6 sem is 79 %( topper of the deparment). Iam confuse whether I should give gre again or not, with the help of magoosh premium I scored dis with prep of 20 days.iam aiming for top university for ms mechanical, my extra circulars are ok.plz help me wid dis confusion, if I have to retake hw much prep I need and wen should i write gre so that I cn apply for fall 15 . I need to give toffel also. Tanx

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Hi Preeti,

      It seems that you are very busy and taking the test again would be quite a time commitment. I’d apply with your current scores and see how that goes. Your scores aren’t bad, and if you feel you prepped well in those 20 days then def. focus on other aspects of your application. But if you can set aside the time and give GRE prep another month, you might be able to boost the quant score into the mid-160’s and the verbal up a little. Still, I’m not sure how much of a difference that will make. Again, my advice is to focus on other parts of you app.

      Good luck 🙂

  10. Josh August 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the info. I’m planning on applying to the top EE programs in the fall (Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley). I scored a 165 in quantitative and 161 in verbal. My scores are decent, but I know I could do a little better on the quantitative. I expected around 167-169. My verbal score is about what I expected. I was the top student at a top 20 undergrad EE program (3.97 GPA). Do you think it’s worth retaking the GRE if I’m only considering these top programs?


  11. Khushhal August 29, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Hi Chris,

    First of all, thanks for a very helpful article!

    I took my GRE 3 days ago and scored 305 (163 Q, 142 V). I would be applying for the CS program for Fall’15. I was very disheartened after watching this low scores as i was mostly getting around 315-320 in the Manhattan and Princeton tests. I don’t know what happened on the test day as i was very much prepared after 2 months of study. Thinking about a retake but not sure of it as i need to work on the other aspects of my application which will need some time. Should i retake because there’s still time for the fall’15 deadlines and i’m pretty much sure of atleast a 10 mark increment.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 29, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Khushhal,

      I always advice students who did significantly worse on the real test than on the practice exams to seriously consider a retake. I also advice them to work on other parts of their application so they don’t get so caught up in the GRE retake that they let the rest of their app languish.

      In your case, it sounds like your head is in the right place and you are not going to let the rest of your app. languish. Also, a 10-increment is huge, esp. if you can get a 5 point boost in quant. My advice–definitely retake the test.

      Best of luck 🙂

      • Khushhal August 30, 2014 at 8:35 am #

        Well, thanks a lot!

  12. Jenny August 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I’m applying to PhD programs in history. My GRE scores are 163 verbal, 149 quant, and 5.0 AW. I’m mainly worried about the quant score since it falls within the 37th percentile. Will I still be competitive for top 20-50 history programs, or should I retake the GRE to improve the quant score?

    I read the Magoosh article “GRE scores for arts and humanities programs” from Summer 2013. ( Is the chart on that article still (generally) accurate for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle? Thanks!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 29, 2014 at 10:37 am #

      Hi Jenny,

      Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about being the 37th percentile, since you are lumping your self with C.S students and the like. Amongst your cohort, you have decent quant scores (the chart wouldn’t change appreciably in the course of a year). The main thing is your verbal is strong and your writing too. At this point, other aspects of your application are going to make the difference.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  13. Sid August 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I took my GRE today and got 163 in Quant and 155 in verbal. I think it was my bad luck that i got all literature related really dense comprehensions. Magoosh helped me a lot to boost up my quantitative score but i feel i could have done better there also. I also practiced a few topics from Manhattan 5lb books. I am aiming to apply for an MBA program for only Kelly School of business. I am really confused as to whether i should re-take GRE or not because i feel i performed well today despite the low verbal scores.

    Any guidance would be much appreciated!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Hi Sid,

      Those are verbal scores aren’t too shabby–even for b-school. If you think you can do better, in both sections, I’d highly recommend taking the test again. Esp. because, this time around, you know what it is like to sit to take the GRE–always indispensable knowledge :).

  14. Anustup August 17, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I wrote my GRE on 4th August,2014 and got a score of 306(V-148,Q-158,AWA-4.0).I am quite disappointed,especially with my performance in the quant section.In my mock tests(Kaplan,Princeton(books+online)),I used to score around 320(Q-in the 165 range,V-above 155),but in the actual exam I found the questions to be substantially tougher.In particular,the toughness level of my first section(quant) was totally unexpected.As a result,my mind got filled with jitters and subsequently affected the rest of my exam.I faced pacing problems too.I’m an engineering undergraduate intending to do an integrated Ph.D. in a grade A- or Grade B+ university.I’ve considered retaking the test sometime around the end of September.Since I already have a level of preparation,this time,I’ve planned to practice only from the ETS Official Guide and take its mock tests to make myself familiar with the real contents of the exam and adapt accordingly.Would that be enough to get my target score of 320?Do you think I’ve made the right decision?I’d heartily appreciate any additional suggestion or advice regarding this.Thanks a lot!
    P.S.:-Princeton and Kaplan are very misleading and they are quite passionate about it.

  15. Jenny August 16, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I’m applying to PhD programs in history. My GRE scores are 163 verbal and 149 quant. I’m mainly worried about the quant score since it falls within the 37th percentile. Will I still be competitive for top 20-50 history programs, or should I retake the GRE to improve the quant score?

    I read the Magoosh article “GRE scores for arts and humanities programs” from Summer 2013. (
    Is the chart on that article still (generally) accurate for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle (given that the latest GRE ETS percentile chart reflects scores through April of 2014)? Thanks!

  16. Apratim August 13, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    I was going through the thread and I realize this may have already been discovered ad nauseum. Yet, here’s another. My GRE scores are Verbal : 162 and Quant : 161. While the total score does not bother me as much I’m kinda disappointed with the quant score. I was kinda getting swabby feet about it for the past couple of days ‘n I realized the only way to set the record straight is to appear for it a 2nd time. However, many of my friends are advising against it saying its gonna be a waste of time and effort if couldn’t get the total score up by at least another 5 more points. Now while I can’t guarantee myself that, I’m pretty sure I can fare far better in the quant since I’ve been acing them quants in the practice tests – Manhattan, Princeton, ETS et al. (ETS Practice Test 1 :169 Practice Test 2 :165) However, I do not know for sure if the score for Verbal will dwindle. Guess, I’m kinda confused. Would appreciate your advice.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Hi Apratim,

      I don’t really think retaking the test would be a waste of time, assuming your math synapses haven’t withered since the test. Sign up again, study for a few weeks (the new quant guides are out) and you’ll most likely do much better, considering the disparity in your practice tests and real tests. The verbal could very well stay around the same (you could bone up on the verbal too in the next few weeks).

      The waste would not be doing as well as you could have 🙂

  17. Caleb August 13, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Reading through the webpage and thought I’d ask you a question also. I just took my GRE and got a 155 quant 161 verbal. Not my finest work. Still waiting on my AWA scores. I have a 3.83 GPA with a degree in Health Services Administration with a concentration in informatics from a public university and I am credentialed in my field. Im just now graduating but have worked full time in mortgage originations for the padt 5 years while going to school, im 25. I just gained employment at arguably the best hospital in the world, Johns Hopkins. I’m a disabled veteran and the VA will pay for my MBA wherever I get accepted with the caveat that I must start it soon. As much as id like to retake my GRE to increase my scores i wont be able to without pushing myself into round 2 of the admissions cycle. My question is how likely do you think I am to get accepted at the top MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Yale, Booth or JHU with that background. Really hesitant to apply with those scores but the timing leaves me little choice. I used Kaplan to prep (no online prep) over the past 2 months while taking a final summer course and paid for a tutor ive never used once. Thanks a million.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

      Hi Caleb,

      Hmm…you may be right. The background isn’t the strongest for schools like the ones you listed. So the GRE would be a pretty important component. I wouldn’t say that your scores are bad, but perhaps not quite as competitive, esp. in the quant, as you’d see in applicants to those schools.

      The good news is that you only used Kaplan. What I mean by that is they are not the best in terms of writing questions that actually model the test; by prepping for a retake, you’d have a whole host of great materials to help you improve much more than Kaplan could.

      Since you already have a base in terms of test strategies, I think right now you’d be fine self-studying by choosing questions that are more like you’ll see on the test. First off, there are the ETS materials (ETS writes the test). These will prepare you really well. Then there is Magoosh (that’s us) and Manhattan GRE (they have 6 online practice tests that, at least in terms of quant, will prepare you for the test).

      To give you more of a structure, here is our 90-day study plan:

      Hopefully, all that will help give you the boost you need to stand out in those competitive programs. Good luck 🙂

  18. Anisha August 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I received 155 for quant, 163 for verbal, 4.0 for awa. I am thinking of applying to MPP programmes at the top policy schools (harvard, michigan, goldman, chicago). Having looked at those schools average scores for MPP programmes, my quant and awa is below the average scores accepted. Should i resit the exam? How much do they weigh the gre scores? Would my time be better spent writing good essays instead?

    Also, I used Magoosh and did quite a bit of work especially for math. My predicted scores on Magoosh also ranged in the 155-159 range. (I did study econometrics at uni though).


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi Anisha,

      It really depends on how much time you have. Having a quant close to 160 might make you slightly more attractive to admissions. But if you have little time then you might want to turn your attention to the essay. You might also want to see if you can bump up that 4.0 to a 4.5. I could see the writing score being a pretty big component of a policy program.

      Good luck!

  19. AnuraagG July 25, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I gave my GRE a month ago and scored 159 in quant, 155 verbal and 3 in AWA. I don’t really care much about my verbal and AWA score, but my quant score really bothers me. In the various mock tests I scored –
    ETS powerprep test 1 – 163(Q) , 149(V)
    ETS powerprep test 2 – 163(Q) , 152(V)
    Kaplan mock test 5 – 166(Q), 160 (V)
    Manhattan – 160 (Q) , 157(V)

    So, given these mock test results, I assumed that I would do fairly well in the actual test. I was predicting a quant score in the range of 162-165. and verbal score greater than 152.

    But somehow my score was way below the expectations in the quant section and since I am aiming for a premier economics program, it was imperative for me to score well on the quant section.

    My question is –
    1) Should I retake the exam given the time constraint?
    I mean, the admission process for the fall 2015 session would start around September. Do you think I have enough time to give it again?

    2) If I do have to give it again, what should be my strategy?

    3) Somehow, I felt that the quant section was tougher than both of the ETS sample papers, while the verbal section was easier.
    Was it just my luck that I ended up with such a situation?
    Do you think I can improve?

    The only thing which has been stopping me from retaking it, is the fear of screwing up on the big stage again.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Hi Anuraag,

      Don’t let that fear stop you from taking the test again. Since you’ve already been prepping, you will not need to spend as much time getting up to speed.

      In terms of prep materials, ETS recently released some guides with questions that are quite tricky and subtle. I think it really drives home the point that ETS is good at making questions that seem relatively straightforward actually turn out more tough than they. But these should give you good practice for test day.

      Pay careful attention to the types of mistakes that you make (careless, misinterpretation, etc.) That could give you a significant boost test day.

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  20. Susnata July 6, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    My GRE score is 149V-170Q. Waiting for AWA score.

    GPA 9.61/10 from IIT Kharagpur.

    Want to apply PhD in ECE in top 20 US university. Should I retake GRE for good verbal score?

  21. Vish June 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    I have written my gre and got a score of 306. I was quite dissapointed as i had scored around 320 in my gre practice tests. I have been doubting my prepping abilities as well as my nerves around the time of the exam. My pacing during the exam was much worse than when I took the practice tests at home. I was wondering how long a gap I should place before writing gre again. How much time would be adequete time for a good score( around 325 +). And how should I pace my studying now that basic concepts are clear.

  22. neh June 20, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    My GRE score is 1140 (old pattern) and is still valid. I wish to pursue my Ph. D in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
    Verbal 680
    Quant 480
    AWA 5
    Am apprehensive if this score is good enough. Should I reappear?

  23. gredummy June 9, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    First of all please post this comment as I need your advice!!

    I gave my gre on June 9 and scored a pathetic Q: 150 and V:153. As I am applying for a PhD CS ,these scores would be of no help at all.

    I prpared for quant from Manhattan 5lb , Novas , and ETS OG and despite doing all the problems I dont know why I got so low. For the verbal most of my RC and critical reasoning are bad.
    I am planning for a re-take and is it possible to increase my score for quant and verbal each in the 160 range??
    I am applying for fall 2015 and what time as an approximate guess would you advice for a re-take?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 10, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      GREdummy (though I’m sure you’re not!),

      A quick few questions: what were you practice test scores? I’m wondering if you pysched yourself out and did poorly test day. Perhaps, your baseline (first practice test) was low and you improved a lot, but didn’t do well test day. All this stuff is important for me to know, so I can better advise you.

      I’m also curious about how you approached “doing problems”. Sheer number of practice problems doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in score; it’s how you learn from your mistakes, etc.

      So let me know, and I’d be happy to help 🙂

      • gredummy June 11, 2014 at 8:59 am #

        Hi Chris I posted a reply but I am not able to see it!!!! anyways I’ll be brief regarding my approach and possible weakness

        I understood the problems and the solutions for Math and in the practice tests my scores were around 152 – 156. Despite working on the areas where I wet wrong I was not able to cross 156 -158.

        In the verbal part my problem lies in RC and critical reasoning questions, no matter how much i try i am unable to get them right and the answer choices seem only correct to me. Do you have any tips on how to read the authors mind for these questions??

        I have now exhausted all my practice tests and have worked on the wrong problems in those tests atleast twice so its unlikely that I may not remember them some other time. So how do i gauge my performance now for the retake??

        What would you advice be the appropriate time for the 2nd attempt and is it even possible to get an improved score in the range of 160 – 162 in Quant and 156 – 158 in verbal??

        PS: Curiously I am unable to see my comments or replies after posting and even the next day or so.. If it is a glitch could it be fixed as it leads to multiple posts

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele June 11, 2014 at 10:43 am #


          That is totally my fault! Your comment was sent to me but, amongst the weekend blitz, it got lost. Again, my apologies.

          I see in your first post that you elucidated your areas of weakness pretty clearly. With the RC and CR questions, your problem is not unheard of, esp. among people who are highly intelligent and prone to making connections. See, many of those answers are partially right–or at least not completely wrong. So, it is easy to come up with a rationale to support the answer. The problem is you have to choose the best answer–and you want to be brutal about the answers that you keep, choosing only the one that can weather sustained scrutiny (in this sense it is better to eliminate all answers because you can find holes in all of them).

          A good way to start thinking along these lines is to go through former questions that you’ve missed. Instead of turning on the “let’s justify my wrong answer” part of your brain, find what’s wrong with it. Then, find out why the correct answer is correct by trying to poke holes in it (you’ll see this isn’t easy to do). Over time–or maybe even quickly–you’ll get a sense of how the test writers think, and what makes a wrong answer wrong and a right answer right. The key is not to succumb to the temptation to defend your answer because it has some element of plausibility. All of this applies to the CR and the RC section.

          Hope that makes sense, and let me know if you want me to explain more 🙂

  24. Sundar R June 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I took the GRE at got a score of 154-V 156-Q and 4-AWA. I wish to apply for a PhD program in Political Science. What are my chances? Should I retake?

    My academics are good, with a steady GPA. I am however in an engineering major switching my discipline.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi Sundar,

      What most stands out about your score is the 4-AWA. You’ll want to boost that a little, esp. for a program that will be expecting lots of papers. The verbal could use a bump into the upper-150’s or even a 160, if you want to be competitive.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  25. Jacq May 15, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I hope you still frequent these replies.

    I took the GRE a few days ago. I know my raw Q and V scores (145 and 149 respectively). As of yet I do no know my percentile rank.

    All I need is to crack the top fiftieth for my program of choice. Do you have any intel into my scores/general percentile rank?

    I only had a few weeks to prepare for the exam, and I ran out of time in the first math section (hard) one tossed my way. I would appreciate any insight! I’m strongly considering signing up for the Premium Magoosh services if indeed I need to retake the test.

  26. Preeti April 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I need some help. I took GRE few days back and got a score of 292 (V 140 , Q 152). My academics are decent I have published 1 research paper and Right now I am working as a SAP ABAP and CRM consultant . By October 2014 i”ll be having one years work experience. I need good universities for MS in CS with courses in SAP and application development. However, I know my GRE scores are poor. Can you guide on this. Should I retake the exam again or should I proceed with this score? Are there any chances of getting into good universities with this score ?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi Preeti,

      Given that you are trying to enter a CS, a highly competitive field, you will have to bring up your score quant-wise. For a shot at a good university, you would need at least a 160. That is by no means impossible. With hard work and the right resources you’ll be able to get those 8 points.

      Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

  27. prateek April 24, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I had applied for masters program in electrical engineering with a gre score of 308 (152-V,156-Q) to some universities. So far i have got rejects from 5 universities. I have a decent undergrad GPA with 2 years work ex. I am wondering if my gre score of 156 is preventing me from getting admissions in top universities.What would you suggest . should i retake gre to improve my admission chances?. I have already used magoosh premium before.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Hi Prateek,

      Those are decent scores but the reality is that the engineering is fiercely competitive at the top schools. There may well have other factors influences the universities’ decision, but the quant score was likely an important variable. So I highly suggest retaking the test.

      This time around, when you prep, you’ll be at an advantage since you’ve taken the test. You’ll want to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses leading up to the test, and what went wrong (and right) test day. That way you’ll be able to target your prep better. Continue using Magoosh but be selective, choosing those areas you are weak at. You should also pick up MGRE 5lbs. book for quant practice and/or one of its eight manuals, so you can get access to the six practice tests.

      Good luck!

  28. Alex April 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi Chris

    I recently took the GRE about two weeks ago and I received my scores today and I not reach my target score ( I started to prepare 2 1/2 months before the test ) ; the deadline for the universities that I’m applying to is July 1st, and after communicating with ETS and the universities back and forward , I have till the first week of June to take the exam again so I can summit my scores in time, and based on the availability of the test centers, I have 3-6 weeks to prepare for the next exam; but I don’t feel comfortable taking exam so close to the deadline so my actual time frame to prepare is 3-4 weeks. my question is the following:

    Can 3-4 weeks of preparation make a difference in improving my score??
    ( I’m in a position where I can devote day and night to study, ranging from 6-10 hours per day inclusively to studding )

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Hi Alex,

      Good question! It all depends on how you prepped the first time around and what happened test day. Let’s say you prepped without significant focus on your vocabulary, and as a result you missed a few questions on the verbal section.

      Or maybe it was something in the quant section that you realize, only after test day, that you should have focused more on. It can be any number of things, from using dated prep material from not truly understanding your mistakes during prep, but preparation is a big factor as to whether you can improve this time around, with 4 weeks. Let me know and I’ll help you brainstorm a plan :).

      Test day can also be illuminating. Did you run out of steam? Did you spend too much time on a long reading passage? Did you simply tense up, or maybe were overconfident and didn’t check your answers? Again, many possibilities.

      So, again, let me know and I’ll help you devise a plan over the next month :).

      • Alex April 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

        Thanks a lot for the feedback Chris! I really thought I was prepared but I ( like you mentioned ) did run out of steam and tense up among others things. I devised a 4 week plan so I have a more structure schedule, unlike the first time I prepared; I was guided by your 4 week plan, and actually try to do 50 % more or double of the work that entails per week been that I have all morning, afternoon, and evening to devote to this ( I take breaks of course haha).

        My concern pertaining the Analytical Writing is timing; right until the end of college I always excelled in writing papers because I had abundance of time, and typically how my brain functions is I get a rush of ideas and can’t seem to gather my thoughts cohesively in a constrained time structure.

        Regarding the Quant: I start second guessing myself in the Quantitative comparison portion not knowing if the problem has sufficient information to answer the question and get anxious.

        Verbal reasoning: I do 30-40 Questions daily but my vocabulary needs to improve

        1. Should I start timing myself when practicing questions/problems or should I leave that to the 3rd or 4th week ?

        2. Where do I take simulations tests again if I already used all the ones from ETS? (Or should I reuse them again? )

        Thanks again!

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele May 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

          Hi Alex,

          So here are few things you can try in the next four weeks:

          1) AWA

          Practice brainstorming/outlining. This will allow you to lasso in all those thoughts. Many skip this stage thinking it a waste of time, but writing stream of conscious style will lead to a rambling essay. Take a few minutes at first and give this step a few days. What you should emerge with is a sense of turning inchoate ideas into a well-reasoned backed up by a few examples. Think of a concession point for your position, or the examples, before you write. Then, when you write, you’ll have a better sense of where the essay is going.

          2. Quant comp. is meant to be tricky, and you are meant to second guess yourself. Knowing this should help you relax a little. Don’t be afraid to choose (D), but feel confident by plugging in numbers. If you get two discrete results, then the answer must be (D). If you only have a sense it is (D), without plugging in numbers, the panic tends to set in.

          3. For the next couple of weeks work on fine-tuning your approach before going back to timed sets. I think this will allow you to change things that you are doing incorrectly. If you are always under the clock, then you are less likely to notice these tendencies, and apt to make the same mistakes.

          4. ETS only has two simulation tests. The official guide, however, has full-length practice tests that are paper-based. Take these. Even take the simulations for practice (not because you want an accurate score). Use Magoosh as much as possible, even if you recognize some of the questions.

          Good luck, and I hope that helps!

  29. Conor April 22, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Excellent article! I’m still a bit puzzled, though. I took the GRE in ’11, attended and left grad school, and am looking to return for a different major. My scores were 163/143/4.0 (V/Q/AW). I’m pretty confident that the 163 will get me into the English program I’d like to enter (it’s at my alma mater so I should have a good app in terms of recommendations, etc), but do you happen to know how universities typically look at the AW score? I remember being infuriated by getting a 4.0 after I saw the percentile — it was a matter of honor, as an English undergrad, that I score well on it. In any case — to retake or not to retake?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      Hi Conor,

      Good question! It’s really hard to say exactly what admissions board think, but I’d hazard a guess that an English grad program would probably look askance upon a 4.0 essay (though GRE essay writing and what you’ll do in grad school aren’t even vaguely related).

      I’d say brush up on what the GRE essay is looking for (as your writing skills seem up to snuff :)), and you should be able to get a 5.0.

      Good luck!

  30. Kike April 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    I scored 140 on verbal and 142 on math. I studied like 3 days before the exam which is not that bad, but compared to the minnimun requirements for Forensic Psychology (152+ on both) I’m kinda scared I won’t get accepted. I have a GPA of 3.50 so I don’t know if I should take it again or not.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 18, 2014 at 11:52 am #


      Three days is basically nothing. Set aside some serious time and dedication and you’ll be able to crack the 150’s, if not higher. Your 3.5 GPA shows you have the work ethic, so time may be the issue. Take a few months of serious prep, making sure to take practice tests frequently and to work on vocab (this blog provides all the resources you’ll need). If you want to pursue forensic psychology, then don’t let this test stop you. You can, with hard work, hit those minimum requirements.

      Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

  31. Brad December 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    I just finished my GRE tonight with a 156Q 150V. I will be applying for master’s medical physics grad school by jan 31, so I have time for a retake. I just can’t decide if I should or not. I only studied 4-5 days for this thing, not really timing myself (which I ran out of time on both quantitative sections having to guess on 6 problems without reading them). My top choice is Duke, but their average GRE scores from last years accepted students were 159Q and 155V. I don’t know enough about the scoring to tell if that’s a large difference or not. What do you think? If I studied an hour or so a day for the next 20-30 days taking a full length practice exam here and there, do you think it’d be worth it to take another shot?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Brad,

      I think it’s definitely worth it, considering that you spent very little time studying for it and you want to get into a pretty competitive program. The score difference you mentioned above isn’t too big–3o days of focused study should be enough. I’d definitely get the Magoosh vocab flashcards and not count that as part of your one-hour study time. Learning the important GRE words should help you improve by at least a few points in verbal. And, as you mentioned, take a few practice tests.

      Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions along the way :).

  32. Emily December 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I just took the gre. The educational leadership program I’m applying to said the average scores of the students they admit are 157 on both quant and verbal and a 4 on writing. During prep i was averaging around 155/156 on quantitative and 150-154 verbal. Since I wasn’t too worried about quantitative I focused more on vocab and reading comprehension during may last few days of prep though I still reviewed some math. I took the exam today so I don’t know my writing score but I don’t think I’ll get below a 4. On verbal I got a 164 which is inbelievable for me, but I also got a 150 on quantitative which is.way below the 157 they usually admit. I don’t know if I should retake it and aim for a better quant but risk a lower score on verbal.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Wow, that is a great increase in the verbal section :). I’d still retake it, because even if your verbal falls you could just send both sets of scores, assuming that you will score better in math on the retake.

      BTW what materials/questions were you using to prep for quant? Often that can affect–both negatively and positively–your score test day. I’d stick with Manhattan GRE and Magoosh. Those questions are just as tricky/tough as what you’ll see test day (sometimes even more so!).

      Good luck!

  33. chris December 2, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Hi ,
    I have given gre on 20/11/2013 .But i was not well at that time because i was sick .So i could not perform well and end up 310.So i given gain the gre and i got 317(quant 168 verbal 149).But i given gre after 1 days ie 30/11/2013.when i was registering for the test nothing came and even i given the exam also .But after 2 days suddenly some message is coming that my appointment has been canceled .Do you think this is right policy .Its possible that a person can miss the instruction But how come they allowed me to register and even gave the test also ..This i think is not acceptable

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 3, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Hi Chris,

      It does seem unfair that they would have the system set up as such. The thing is you have to wait a minimum of 21 days before you can take it again–even though they allow you to sign up. I hope you didn’t have to pay for the test 🙁 If so, that would totally unfair.

  34. Qasim December 2, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Hi – I took the GRE on 27th Nov. Scored 158/148 Q/v, which is not very promising. I am planning to re-take. My question is, In how many days can i schedule for my 2nd attempt at the GRE, is it 21 days or 30days?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Hi Qasim,

      The GRE recently changed it to 21 days, so now you don’t have to wait as long. Which I guess is a good thing :).

      Good luck!

  35. Srinivas November 10, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Hey Chris,
    I took the GRE a few days back and got a score of 336 (169 V, 167 Q) and a AW score of 4.5. I have a lousy GPA, but I have 6+ years of experience working in a company. I intend to apply for a PhD in Electrical Engineering in top US universities. Do you think I should try to improve my Quant score to 169-170 and AW score to 5-5.5 in order to try and deflect attention from a not-so-great GPA? Thanks!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 12, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      That’s actually a good question! I guess it depends on how confident you are that you can improve your quant score and writing score–though I wouldn’t worry as much about the latter (since you did hit the 4.5 mark, and you are apply for EE).

      At the end of the day, that 167 vs. 170 might not make a difference — but if you are confident that you can get a 170 then I would say go for it :).

  36. Piotr November 3, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I did GRE in May and I got Q: 161, V: 163, AW: 4.0. I was disappointed with my Q score since I scored maximum on most of my prep tests. But then on my actual test the Q questions were actually much harder than on my online prep! Now I switched to Magoosh and hope it will prepare me better for the very hard questions.

    But yeah, anyway, I ignored AW in my preparations and got only 4.0 because the uni I wanted to go to did not require any particular score. This turns out now as a big mistake. I finally decided to apply to a different uni which takes AW score into consideration. What is worse they say I need to have 4.5-5 or higher and 148 or more from Q section. While, I fulfil Q section requirement, I do not do that for AW section. So I need to retake GRE.

    My question is now, how reasonable it is to only do AW section, or to do only AW + Q sections in my retake. The reason being I doubt I can do any better in V section and I do not have enough time to prepare for all the sections.

    From what I understand, if I decide to send all my scores it will show up like this:

    V Q AW
    Dec 2013 N/A NA 5.5
    May 2013 163 161 4.0


    V Q AW
    Dec 2013 N/A 167 5.5
    May 2013 163 161 4.0

    I don’t think that this will confuse the recruiters in any way, right? If I send only the new scores that would be a disaster, but since I can send all of them together then it should be ok.

    Do I reason well?

    Thanks in advance!

  37. Zach October 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not sure if you’re still reading these, but I really could use a suggestion.

    I took the GRE today and got a 159 verbal, 152 quant. I am happy with the verbal. I expect a 6 or 5 on both essays. On my practice tests, I tended to get around 150-154 quant (once got a 157, but I that was a fluke – got a lot of the ones I guessed right). I started initially at a 141, when I first began studying.

    I’ve put in about 200+ hours re-learning all the basic math from when I was younger (Long story short: I never learned math, due to being misdiagnosed as a child, which resulted in me not being in those particular math classes – I am fine now and have no disabilities after being correctly diagnosed [it was a visual issue which was fixed in in 11th grade, after suffering misdiagnosed for 16 years of essentially near blindness]). I am really, really looking to go into a top BUSINESS school. I have a 3.3 GPA (somewhere around there, I don’t remember for sure) and a 3.8-ish major GPA, as well as decent work experience (managerial, several promotions, and a new job at a solid name company); but I am not sure if I should retake the GRE.

    I don’t know if I can do better. I get most of the first math section right, then suffer on the harder questions in the second (I mean, I just got the basics down, learning how to combine 3-4 of those rules into an advanced question is very hard for me). I really wanted a 155, but don’t know if I should stick with the 152.

    Do you think I have a very little chance of getting into a good MBA program (top 20 [I can dream, right? :-\]), given a 159v/152q? There simply aren’t many resources for how business schools take these scores into consideration. I know I have good recommendations and I can write a pretty solid personal statement/essays.

    You probably can’t answer these questions, I’m more just venting. But, anyway, thank you, I really appreciate your help, these blog posts are tremendously helpful to me.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 24, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Hi Zach,

      I think you are doing very well already–and have indeed come along way if you had to learn the math basic for the first time :). Though the tough math problems are daunting, if you apply that same work ethic to learning harder questions you will be able to do it. And by “do it”, I mean break the 160 threshold. For top b-schools the GRE/GMAT score is really important (more so than most other grad programs). 160 will put you in a good place, esp. if the rest of your resume is strong.

      So take it again :). With a little more prep (make sure to practice with tough questions: Manhattan GRE and Magoosh) those dream schools should be in your reach.

      Good luck!

  38. Patty October 22, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I am a Magoosh user and, first of all, thanks a lot for your great tips!

    Yesterday I took the GRE and got 158 V and 158 Q. However, when I did the practice tests at home (the Manhattan online tests) I was scoring 166-165 Q and 159-160 V. I was very disappointed because, well, I studied a lot! I think my problem is the endurance (after the 4th section my brain seized up). Should I take one entire exam every single day for the next 21 days before retaking the GRE? Are there any chances that I can repeat my “home performances” on the test day? I guy at the test center told me that it is actually normal to get a significantly lower score on the actual test. Is that true?

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Hi Patty,

      Those are all great question!

      I’d say it is not out of the ordinary to get a significantly lower score test day. The test center–to put it bluntly–sucks, at least compared to the comforts of home. And not taking the entire test (including the experimental section and both essays) and then having to sit 4 hours next to people with hacking coughs (that’s happened to me twice :)), well it is surprising that some people manage to do even better test day.

      So simulate the test environment as much as possible: take entire sections with the exact recommended break, throwing an extra math or verbal sections. You might want to add some discomfort or distractions (short, of course, of having someone with a hacking cough sit next to you :)).

      I wouldn’t, however, do a test every day for 21 days. I’d say three full-lengths test should sufficiently train you for test day. Though feel free to do a couple of more, if you’ve got the stamina :).

      Good luck on your retake, and let me know if I can answer any questions along the way :).

  39. prateek October 17, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    I am a user of magoosh premium. I gave my gre today and got a score 0f 305(153-V and 152-Quant). As I am planning to apply to engineering programs the quant score is clearly not enough. For my preparation I did the math questions from magoosh,watched the videos and did the two power prep and two manhattan online tests. Same pattern was followed for the verbal preparation also though I could not complete the whole set of verbal questions on magoosh. Iam planning to retake the gre in the next 21 days. Please suggest me a strategy for getting 160+ in quant and also to improve my verbal score by atleast 2-3 points. Please suggest if I can use any additional resources. I would highly appreciate your help.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

      Hi Prateek,

      I’m curious as to why you are missing certain questions. Is it a question of pacing, so you feel rushed at the end? Do careless errors plague you? Certain question types? Answering these questions may be far more important than just using more practice material (you may just be reinforcing bad habits).

      Once you figure this out, I’d go back to the MGRE online tests (take some more), practice Magoosh again, and use some GMAT questions from the official guide. Again, try to figure out why you are missing questions–this awareness will help you a lot more than just doing very tough questions.

      Good luck!

  40. Navya September 11, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I have seen on many websites and in your article that you need to wait 60 days to rewrite the revised GRE.

    On the ETS website it says 21 days?
    Do you know if they have changed the rules recently?


    This is the excerpt from the ETS website:

    Retaking the GRE revised General Test

    You can take the GRE revised General Test once every 21 days, and up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period. This applies even if you canceled your scores on a test taken previously. If you take the paper-based GRE revised General Test, you can take it as often as it is offered.

    The retaking a test policy will be enforced even if a violation is not immediately identified (e.g., inconsistent registration information). If the violation is identified after registration but before the test administration, the testing appointment will be canceled and test fees will be forfeited. If the violation is identified after test scores have been reported, the invalid scores will be canceled, score recipients will be notified of the cancellation and test fees will be forfeited.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

      Hi Navya,

      Thanks for catching that :). This is an old post, and we’d forgotten to go back and change it. Yes, the rules changed relatively recently. Now you only have to wait 21 days before a retake.

      • Navya September 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        Thanks for the quick response!

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele September 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

          You are welcome!

  41. Baibhav September 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I recently took my GRE and the scores were not up to my expectations. I did poorly on verbal section, and also, was not able to get a high score in the quant section (even though I believe that quant section is the section I am strongest at).

    I am planning to buy the magoosh subscription, but, I would like to hear from you what strategies should I undertake to boost my score in the next test, which is a month later. I really want to pull up my verbal score.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Hi Baibhav,

      To boost your verbal score using Magoosh, you should do the following:

      1) Work through the lessons videos while doing practice questions related to what you just learned.

      2) Find your weakness (misinterpreted parts of the passage, getting tricked by the RC answer choices) and work to improve these.

      3) Take a few practice tests to work well under pressure and refine pacing technique.

      4) Strengthen vocabulary by using Magoosh Flashcards (1,000 words). Make sure to look up words you don’t know ( is a great resource).

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any questions along the way :).

  42. Phil June 20, 2013 at 10:12 am #


    I want to go to a top ph.d program in Operations management. I scored a 169 on the quantitative, 163 on the verbal, and 4.5 on the analytical writing. The 4.5 was 73rd percentile which I wasn’t very excited about. I have two questions. First, how much do programs look at the writing? Second, is it worth retaking? I have lots of time before application, but those are good scores(except for the writing).

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Hi Phil,

      A Ph.D program may actually look at the writing quite closely — esp. if writing will be a large part of your work. Since you have such strong scores, it would be a pity to seem sabotaged by your AWA scores. I think you should spend a month or so at AWA (while maintaining your verbal/quant skills). Aim for a 5.5. Even if you only get a ‘5’, it will make your application a lot stronger.

      Good luck!

  43. Elegua June 12, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I have taken the GRE three times. The first time, I scored in 1040 since I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing and thought it would just be “for practice”. Because I got such a crappy score, I studied around 80 hours over a period of one or two months and I managed to raise my score to 1220 (490V, 730Q, 5.5AW). However, my quant was higher than my verbal by a lot and I thought to myself, “Wow, this looks like I can barely speak English” and I decided to study more vocab and reading comp and neglected my math. Therefore, the third time I managed to raise verbal to 540, but my math went down to 690 (T = 1230, AW = 5.5 again). This time… I’m using Magoosh and I’m being more disciplined about my studying, I’ve been doing at least an hour a day for about a month and a half and plan on continue to this for another month a half. What scares me, though, is the infamous plateau. I keep seeing my estimated score as “152 – 157” and “155 – 160” and the scores I’ve gotten the previous times are in this range.

    Is there anything you can recommend to overcome this “plateau” at all? When working out, they say “change your routine”, so I’ve tried doing that with my studying, but do you think there is anything else I should change to increase my odds of getting at least 1300? I would really appreciate your input on this!


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 20, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Hi Elegua,

      Sorry about the delayed reply :). Your original comment was lost in the fray!

      Getting over the plateau is tough. Besides changing up your routine–which is helpful–I recommended focusing on your mistakes and trying to discern a pattern in the questions you are missing. There won’t necessarily be an overarching pattern, but there could be a few recurring motifs that you’ll want to pick up on. For instance, in verbal, perhaps on RC questions that ask you to identify the function of a sentence within a paragraph, you tend to miss the question. Or perhaps, you tend to consistently miss one of the three blanks in a triple-blank TC. Whatever it may be, start trying to reverse engineer your thought process up until the moment where you pick the wrong answer. Had you initially picked the correct answer? Or were you actually surprised to learn what the correct answer was?

      This is a complex process and difficult to do–at least at first–on your own. But trying this method, in which you try to identify reasons for your mistakes so that you can be on-guard against similar mistakes in the future–will help you bump up your verbal score by a few points.

      Let me know how this ends up working. I definitely want to help you get into the mid-160’s range :)!

  44. Bishal Bhattarai May 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Hi, I am Bishal Bhattarai from Kathmandu, Nepal. I took my GRE on NOV, 2012 and I got V(150), Q(158) & Analytical(4.0). I am a physics graduate and I want to apply for US universities for my PhD.

    I studied the Barron’s GRE prep, Princeton 1014 & Kaplan’s GRE prep for my test preparation. I also went through the Magoosh Blog during my preparation. I had roughly taken 60 days as my preparation time. The thing that surprised me on the test was the levels of Quantitative section, the first & second section was way too easy while the third section was extremely tough & time consuming which is why I missed nearly 8 questions in my last section due to the time limitation.

    Is there any resource which levels the toughness of the real exam set (esp the last set which is tougher than the other sets) ? How can I improve my score (esp in quantitative section) if I wish to retake the test ? What do you think of my Verbal score ? How should I improve it ?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 31, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Hi Bishal,

      Kaplan and Princeton tend to have questions that are easier than those on the actual test, esp. those questions on the hard section in the GRE. For tough practice questions, I’d recommend Manhattan GRE, esp. it’s 6 online practice tests (you get access by buying one of its books). Magoosh also contains quant prep that is as difficult, if not more difficult, than what you saw test day (that’s one of our quant strengths–making even the tough questions seems relatively easy test day).

      That should be a significant amount of material. But if you still need more practice, Manhattan just released its 5 lbs. practice book, which contains some tough questions scattered throughout the text.

      Hope that helps!

  45. Chelsea August 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    152 quantitative, 155 verbal, 4.0 analytical. GPA 3.68/4.0. Psych major wanting to apply for doctorate programs (most deadlines are either Nov or Dec). Some schools I want mostly admit people with scores in high 150’s to mid 160’s in both areas. Prepped slightly (doing math drills and expanding vocabulary with GRE words book occasionally–maybe 30-45 min, 3 days a week) for 4 months while I was pretty busy with school and extracurriculars (I’m involved with a lot plus worked as a TA and lifeguard). Once I got out of school last week of April, I started studying about 1-2 hours a day out of 3 different Princeton Review books as well as doing a few online timed practice tests. I took the exam middle of July this year. Compared to most students who perform well on the GRE (which I would consider 70th percentile or above in both Q and V), did I prep significantly less? Would you suggest that I try my best to dedicate more time to studying and retake in the situation I’m in?.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Chelsea,

      It seems that you prepped a decent amount. The problem may be with Princeton’s material. The questions are simply much easier than those you will see test day. I’d say definitely retake the test, using a variety of materials. In our study guides posts, the best sources are mentioned as well as helpful schedule to ensure that you are getting the most out of all those hours you put it :).

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any more questions :).

      • Chelsea August 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

        Thank you so much! Just registered for round 2 and I’m starting up with Magoosh online prep! Hope to perform much better this time around!

        • Chris Lele
          Chris August 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

          Great to hear that! Don’t hesitate to ask any questions along the way :).

  46. Prachurya Kirti Nayak July 29, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    I received by GRE scores as follows
    Verbal: 145
    Quantitative: 165
    AWA: 3.5
    My CGPA is 9.67/10
    I want to apply for MS in Computer Science Engineering to B+ ranked Graduate Schools of US. Do I have a bright chance?

  47. lavanya July 5, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    My gre score is 152 in quants and 143 in verbal.My GPA is 8.00 without converting it. Am i eligible to apply carolina state univ,keck school medicine( california) and north eastern univ. Or should i retake the exam?
    Thank you

  48. Vaisnavi December 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    A valuable post indeed, thanks a lot Mr Chris

    • Chris Lele
      Chris December 19, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      You’re welcome!

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