The GRE sometimes gets a reputation for being the “easy” grad school admissions test. While it’s true that some students ace the test without even studying, most people have to put in some serious time and energy to get the score they want. It takes thoughtful goal-setting, honest self-evaluation, and familiarity with the exam to get a great score.
But no matter how well you’ve planned and how diligently you’ve studied, occasionally things will come up that make you consider cancelling or rescheduling the GRE. Your individual circumstances will dictate what the right thing to do is, but here are a few situations in which you might want to reschedule the GRE or cancel your score:
1. You have not studied enough.
This may be the most obvious reason to reschedule the GRE. Preparing for the GRE can take many hours over several weeks or even months, depending on your score goal and current aptitude for the test. If you’re unhappy with your practice test scores or you just don’t feel confident in the material, it might be worth it to reschedule the GRE. You may be charged a rescheduling fee, but it’ll be cheaper in the long run than having to retake the GRE for a higher score later.
2. You panic, have anxiety, or significantly run out of time on a section of the GRE on test day.
Anxiety and test-day stress afflicts many test-takers. It can distort confidence, and often results in significant delays throughout the test. This may hurt your score. Timing is of the essence on the GRE — especially on the reading passages and math sections. If you panic or run out of time on a specific section of the GRE on test day, it might be worth cancelling your test. Cancelling will void your score and prevent it from becoming an official score, meaning that schools won’t be able to view your GRE test results. You won’t be able to view your GRE test results, either, which means you need to be confident that your test was beyond hope of a good score.
3. A family or significant life event distracts you.
Some life events can throw off the focus of a test-taker, or make educational goals less immediately significant. Such life events could include family emergencies, personal medical challenges, or unexpected life changes. In these instances, it’s best to give yourself a bit of time to focus on what’s going on in your life, and come back to the test when you’re ready. Reschedule the GRE for a time when you’re able to focus on the test.
We recommend that students allow a buffer of 2-4 weeks between then end of your prep course and the exam. Taking it right after class can rush you. The 2-4 week period his is a great time to relax, review any final content, and examine tougher questions. If you go longer than 4 weeks, though, you run the risk of forgetting content necessary for a peak performance. If you’ve scheduled your exam for more than four weeks after your prep course ends, it might be worth checking out some other dates and bumping up your GRE test date.