Do you want to get admission to a graduate program of your choice?

If you are one amongst the thousands of school students who wish to continue higher studies in a college of your choice, then simply wishing for the best will not help you at all. The path to success is always tough and requires a lot of hard work. The first step to be taken to achieve your dream of studying in a college of your choice would be to take the GRE test.

The General Test is an assessment of various skills that are not related to a specific academic field. The test evaluates your verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. You need to posses these skills for being successful in graduate studies. The test takers come from varying educational backgrounds and countries. Hundreds of graduate schools and other educational institutions across the US and many other countries accept your scores as a bench mark for considering you for admissions. These facts make it aptly clear that you will have to prepare well for the test as you will come across tough competition for getting admission to your choice of graduate program. You can face this tough competition with detailed planning and thorough preparation. Planning for taking the test involves choosing the dates for the test carefully as this is a very crucial aspect of ensuring success in the test.

How important is it to select the correct GRE Dates?

The most crucial aspect of taking the test is the selection of the correct dates. An inappropriate selection of dates could hamper your success in the test as you will not be able to receive your scores in time for onward submission to colleges. To guard against any such thing happening, the first thing to do is to check the official website, for details regarding the score reporting based on the test's dates. For instance, if you take the test between October 3, 2011 and October 15, 2011, then your scores will be available to you by November 17, 2011. However, if your test date is after November 29, 2011, then your scores will be available within 10-15 days from your test date.

Another important update regarding the General Test is that August 11 onwards; the current test will be replaced by the Revised General Test, the scores of which will be available after November 11. If you need your test scores before November 11, you will need to take the current General Test before August 1, 2011.

Choosing the correct test dates and centres plays a very crucial role in your success in the test. Given below is a checklist that will help in choosing the correct dates:

When do you require the GRE scores?

This is the most important factor that will determine when you should take the test. You need to first check out the websites of the colleges where you will be applying for admissions. Each college or educational institution may have a different last date for submission of your scores. This information will assist you in narrowing down to the window when you should ideally take the test so that your scores are available in time and you can be considered for admissions to all the colleges of your choice.

Where will you be taking the GRE?

Check out from the official website of GRE whether the computer-based test is available in the location where you will be taking the test. If the computer-based test is not available in the location of your choice, then you may have to take the paper-based test which is conducted on selected dates unlike the computer-based test for which the dates are available throughout the year. The point to note here is that in the event of your having to take the paper-based test, your selection of the date on which you take the test becomes all the more crucial because the scores will reach you within 6 weeks of your having taken the test. This fact coupled with the fact that the paper-based test is conducted only up to three times in a year makes it imperative that you check the format of the GRE available at the test centre of your choice well in time.

Are you prepared to take the GRE?

Last, but not the least, is a self-assessment of how well prepared you are to take the GRE. Afterall, what is the point in taking the test if you are not adequately prepared for getting a good score? A half-hearted attempt at taking the GRE will jeopardize your chances of having a fruitful and satisfying career as you will not be able to get admission to a reputed graduate program. Given below is a step-by-step schedule that will help you assess the time you will need to prepare for the test.

  • Check out the types of questions that will be asked. The GRE General Test is a test of your verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. These skills are not related to any specific subject. If you are taking the test for a particular subject, then check out the scope of the test and prepare accordingly.
  • Take an initial practice test. You will find the practice tests and sample questions on the official website and various other websites on the internet. Your scores on the practice test will truly represent how well prepared you are to take the test.
  • Work out the time that you will need to prepare for the test such that you are able to get good scores. Choose your dates depending upon the time that you feel you will need for preparing for the test. If your scores are very poor, then you will need a minimum of 2-3 months for thorough preparation for taking the GRE.

WARNING: Do not bank on retests!

A very important, but often ignored, fact is that your GRE score report contains all scores earned by you in the past five years. This implies that you cannot take your test lightly with inadequate preparation as the low scores that you may have earned will be endorsed in your score report and will be publically visible even though you have earned better scores in subsequent retests. Therefore, avoid planning on taking a retest. Put in your best in your first attempt itself.

However, if at all you are taking a retest, you will require lesser time for study as you will be well aware of your shortcomings and you can concentrate on improving upon them, provided you actually work hard to improve your score. This means that if you are planning to take a retest, do so after carefully analysing the mistakes that you committed while taking the test previously. Throughout your preparation, you have to keep in mind that you cannot afford to keep taking retests for improving your scores as this will be reflected in your score report and it will create a negative impression about you when your score report is being considered for admissions to graduate programs.

The Last Word!

Considering that your performance is related to your test dates, the bottom-line is that you should choose your exam dates carefully keeping in mind the time you will need for preparation and the deadline by which your scores have to reach the intended recipients, else, you could find yourself in a perplexing situation of having to decide whether to take admission in a college that you do not prefer or to take a retest. This is only the first step and it has to be followed with dedicated and thorough preparation for taking the test as this is the only way for ensuring success in securing admission to a reputed graduate program of your choice.