If you scored low on the GRE, don't worry. Take these next steps!


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

If you scored low the first time you took the GRE, you can start by following these next steps.



Did you take the GRE and score lower than expected? 

A majority of graduate school applicants, looking to enroll in a master's degree or higher, must take the Graduate Record Examination and submit their scores as they complete their applications. Let’s talk about the next steps that you can take after scoring low.

Start by reminding yourself that a set of lower-than-expected GRE scores does not define you.


Similar to the ACT/SAT or any other standardized test, not doing as well as planned on the first exam does not mean that you are incapable of doing well. If you are unsatisfied with your first round of GRE scores, don’t settle! There are concrete steps that you can take between now and a retest in order to improve.

You should figure out where you made mistakes on the test and start working on strategies to avoid making these same mistakes.

Commit yourself wholeheartedly to preparing again.


If you’ve already spent months preparing for the GRE, you are probably exhausted. It won’t hurt you to take a week or so to rest but you will want to commit to GRE prep pretty soon after. You already have knowledge of test taking strategies and you’ve already sat for the real deal exam! Take comfort in knowing that you are not starting from scratch.  

Think about sharpening up on high school mathematics.


You have learned a lot of the math that appears on the GRE in high school and undergraduate studies. It may have been quite some time since you last had to use these math skills in a formal exam setting. 

It will therefore be helpful to look for a refresher when it comes to high school math skills. 

Read more and brush up on your vocabulary.


If English is not your first language, do your best to read more in English. If English is your first language but you haven’t been regularly reading, you can also read more.

Regardless of your first language, reviewing your GRE vocabulary words is an absolute must. 

Use this second round of preparation to take several practice GRE exams.


Now that you have taken the real exam, you have a good idea of what the setting while be like when you retake it. You are now more familiar with the testing environment and what it means to sit and concentrate for the full length of the test. 

Take more practice exams in testing environments during your second round of prep! This will help you get more and more into the groove for taking the GRE.

Use the free test prep resources that are available. 


There are free GRE test preparation materials available online for you take advantage of. Considering looking into Educational Testing Service, Khan Academy, and more!

If you have the time and resources, you could look into a GRE class or GRE tutor.


If preparing for your first test made you realize that you need more structured guidance, don’t worry! Think about enrolling in a GRE class or hiring a GRE tutor! They can help provide the structured guidance that you may be looking for. 

Take advantage of ScoreSelect.

ScoreSelect allows grad school applicants to choose which GRE test scores they report to specific graduate level institutions. You will not have to worry about a low GRE score affecting your academic record.

Think about which schools you are applying to and how your target scores fit into their applicant requirements.

Remember that it is best to compare your scores and target scores to the ideal scores that the grad schools you are applying to are looking for. 

Don’t forget to sharpen the rest of your application in the meantime.


The GRE is only one aspect of your grad school app! Graduate school admissions boards will be looking at your personal essays, resumes/CVs, and more. 

Remember that your grad school is a whole package and that the GRE is just one part of that package.




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