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GRE® Test Preparation: When and How to Take the Test

By Melanie On Jun 4, 2019 In  General GRE Study Plans 


Once you decide to attend graduate school, you know the GRE® test is in your future. You may schedule a prep course for the GRE® test or buy a few study books. But before you can truly map out your preparation for the GRE® test, you need to choose a test date. Like many standardized tests, the GRE® test requires you to do more than just show up on test day. Here’s what you need to know about when and how to take the GRE® test.

Choosing a Test Date

Your GRE® test date depends on many factors. For instance, what year are you planning to enter graduate school? What are the application deadlines for your top choice schools? How prepared are you for the exam (i.e., how much time do you need to study)? All of these considerations assist you in choosing the correct GRE® test date for you. In addition to your schooling goals, consider your life situation. If your study time will be limited due to work or family concerns, give yourself a longer preparation window.

The GRE® testis offered year-round and your scores are technically valid for up to 5 years. That said, practically speaking, schools will be looking for scores from the last two years at the most. Find a season that allows you to prepare as much as you need and take the exam then. This may mean studying during your summer break and testing before the fall semester or finding a downtime at work and using it for preparation for the GRE® test. Whatever you do, don’t choose a test date too close to your application deadline. Allow at least six weeks for your score to be processed and reported.

Planning Your Preparation for the GRE® Test

Once you know the date of your exam, you can work backward to create the perfect prep plan for the GRE® test to fit your situation. Remember, it’s more important to get in quality study time, 1 to 2 hours at a time, than a few minutes here and there. Also, don’t try to cram in all your preparation for the GRE® test on the weekends. Even if you can’t carve out an hour a day every day, look for gaps in your day to spend at least half an hour working problems. This will keep you sharp and on target for your desired score. Finally, look for ways to simplify and streamline your studies. Tools like online preparation courses for the GRE® test give you the most effective schedules and exam practice available.

Registering for an Exam Appointment

While booking a GRE® test appointment may seem intimidating or tedious, it’s really just a matter of understanding the process. The test fees total $195, regardless of where you are taking the test. Begin the online registration process knowing which testing location you plan to use and whether you will test on paper or computer (not all locations offer both). Create a GRE account on the ETS website using your full name as it appears on the ID you will use on test day. Follow the steps through the registration process to choose the location, date, and time of your exam. Once you have completed your payment, be sure to save or print your receipt to complete your registration.

Planning your GRE® test date is an exciting and motivating first step on your path to graduate school. By being mindful of your study needs and completing the simple registration steps, your test appointment will be locked in for you as you prepare for the exam. Looking for the best next step? Consider enrolling in the EMPOWER Test Prep online prep course. We guarantee excellent results!