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How Long is a GRE Score Good For?

Last Updated On: June 8, 2021

If you are planning to apply to graduate schools, then you have likely been studying hard for the GRE General Test. Once you make it through a grueling day of GRE testing, I’m sure you never want to take it again.

Unfortunately, GRE test scores don’t last forever. The same goes for the GMAT and other standardized tests.

We thought it might be helpful to compile all the information about how long your GRE scores are valid, why they expire, and how to work around this issue. We spent hours sorting through all the information to write this guide for you and this is what we found out.

How is the GRE Scored?

A graded exam with a positive feedback

There are 3 scores reported on your GRE score report; verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and a writing score.

The verbal and quantitative reasoning scores are reported from 130 to 170.

Your GRE writing skills are scored from 0 to 6. You will not receive a combined score for the GRE [1].

Every college will look at your scores differently, but most of them focus on the verbal and quant sections.

Students who take the GRE will have an option to submit their scores to programs using an online tool.

How Long Are These Scores Valid?

The short answer to this question is your GRE scores are valid for 5 years. There are some differences, however, depending on exactly when you took the GRE test.

Before July 2012

If you took the GRE test before July 2012, then your test scores are expired. Unfortunately, they are gone from ETS forever. You will not be able to find your test scores on your ETS account or have access to them in any way. Basically, they have been removed from the ETS servers to make room for new test scores and test taker information.

July 2012 to June 30, 2016

Every score report from July 2012 to June 30, 2016, is valid for five years from the end of the year in which you took your GRE test. The GRE testing year begins on July 1. That means if you took the test on May 10, 2015, then scores will be valid until June 30, 2020.

July 1, 2016, to Present

If you took the test after July 1, 2016, or you plan to take it any time in the near future, your scores will be valid for five years following your test day. For example, any GRE test taken on January 1, 2018, will be valid until December 31, 2023.

What Happens When Your Scores Expire?

A person looking at a folder with a collection of graded GRE exam

As soon as your GRE scores reach the five-year mark, they will disappear from ETS records. You will not be able to access them or send score reports to graduate schools [2].

If your GRE scores are about to expire and you send them to graduate schools, they will still be able to receive them.

Once a graduate school has your score report, they will have it for good.

During your school search, you should ask universities how long they are willing to accept GRE scores.

Some schools want official scores that are no older than 2 to 3 years.

Always check with the graduate school you plan to apply to before sending them your score reports. There are many different items that schools expect in your application.

Why Do GRE Scores Expire?

Skills Change

According to ETS, a person’s skills might change over five years. Your analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning skills might change greatly over five years.

If you studied hard for the GRE in 2010 and got a good score on both sections of the GRE but have not used that information at all during those five years, then in 2015 you might have completely lost all the GRE knowledge. Score recipients indeed change a lot in 5 years.

On the other hand, you may gain some on-the-job experience or helpful knowledge from your school studies that could help you when you retake the test. You may have received a second bachelor’s degree or got into a graduate program.

If you want to apply to another graduate program or Ph.D. program and your scores have expired, then you will have to retake the test.

Test Revisions

Another reason GRE test scores expire is that ETS often makes revisions to the exam. Having all scores eventually expire after a certain period makes it easier for ETS to revise the whole exam. They might add or remove questions or update the content.

The requirements of universities change often, so by allowing the scores to expire, they can make changes to the test to keep up with the demand of graduate programs.

Increased Demand

Another reason they would allow scores to expire is that it gives them a slight boost in their demand for the GRE tests. After all, standardized testing is a business. Most people will only have to take the GRE once. If students find themselves changing career paths or going back to graduate school, then they may need to take the test again.

How to Plan Around Your Score Validity

A close up picture of a student answering an answer sheet

Most students take the test the same year they plan to apply to graduate school. Some people may take the test the year before they start applying to schools.

One situation that may require you to consider when to take the GRE is if you plan to pursue multiple degrees at different schools.

You will need to ensure your GRE General Test score remains valid by the time you apply to the other programs.

Another situation where this may apply is if you are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree and you have decided you want to pursue a graduate degree but you don’t know when.

You might need to consider how long your score will be valid when you book your test date.

Many students want to start grad school right away since their college skills are fresh. However, this may not be the best decision if you want to gain valuable work experience first.

Also, things might happen where you are unable to attend right away. When you take the GRE will depend solely on you and which programs you want to apply to. You should check with school rankings to determine their application cycles.

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What if You Need to Retake the GRE Due to Expired Scores?

If you have to take the GRE again because your scores expired, it is not the end of the world.

While it might require you to go back into the test-prep mode, some of the GRE test information should come back to you. If you use the same resource guides, then you should be well on your way to solid GRE prep.

When you plan to take the GRE again, we recommend setting up a solid plan for test prep for each section of the GRE.

You should also be sure you are ready to apply to graduate school within the next few years. When working through your GRE prep plan, include proactive questions and tests.

How to Cancel Your GRE Scores

Ripping a paper in half

So, what if you want to cancel your GRE score?

Canceling your GRE score report will invalidate your scores. You will not be able to view or send them to any school on your list.

You cannot cancel only one section of your GRE score.

Once you view your scores, you cannot cancel them. You should think very carefully before canceling your scores.

Some students complete the test and feel like they may not have done well. Our advice is to go in with confidence and have faith in yourself that you studied well.

You can always sign up to take the GRE again.

At the end of the test, you will be given an option to report or cancel your scores at testing centers. Keep in mind, if you cancel your scores, you will never be able to see your test scores. You will not have a baseline for how you did and cannot create a study plan based on your weaknesses.

So, How Long Are GRE Scores Valid?

GRE scores are valid for 5 years after the date of your test. Most current GRE test-takers have taken the test after July 1, 2016, or plan to take it in the future. In this guide, we poured over all the GRE information available and brought you the clearest and most up-to-date questions and answers.

You should now be armed with the information necessary to plan and take the GRE in plenty of time to get into the graduate degree program of your dreams.

References:

  1. https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/get/#:~:text=Three%20scores%20are%20reported%20on,scale%2C%20in%20half-point%20increments
  2. https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/how-long-are-gre-scores-good-for/#:~:text=When%20your%20scores%20expire%2C%20they,test%20if%20your%20scores%20expire.

About the author

William Cohen

William Cohen

William is an electrical engineer whose great passion is helping promising students achieve their goals and dreams. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with aspiring learners from all over the world.

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