Sometimes, studying isn’t the most stressful part of test-taking. There’s just as much to think about after taking the ACT, SAT, and GRE. There are some people who might thoroughly enjoy taking standardized tests–just like there are some people who enjoy going to the dentist or doctors office. However, it is not common. Even as a test prep instructor, sitting for almost four hours and answering complex GRE questions is not necessarily “enjoyable.”
Hence, the question “How long are GRE scores valid?” is common among those who do not want to take the GRE again if they don’t have to. In this article, I will discuss how long GRE scores are valid, how to submit GRE scores to schools, and when it is a good idea to take the GRE again even if your scores are still sound.
GRE Scores Are Valid for How Long?
Your GRE scores will remain valid for five years following the exact date you took the exam. If you took the GRE over five years ago, you will not be able to access your scores, let alone send them out to schools. Once they are expired, ETS (the writers and administrators of the GRE) erase them completely from your record.
The only way to access your scores will be from having a solid memory, owning a hard copy of your past score report, or by attending a program that would have your GRE scores on your transcript. However, none of these ways are admissible for graduate/MBA program GRE score submissions. If you have decided to apply to a graduate or MBA program and your GRE scores are expired, you will have to take the GRE again.
How to Send Valid GRE Scores
There are two ways to send your GRE score report to schools, one of which is included in the cost of taking the GRE. For $205, you will be able to take the computer-delivered GRE and send your scores to four recipients at no additional cost. However, you can only do this on test day.
Sending Scores on Test Day for Computer-Delivered GRE
After you finish your GRE, the computer will ask you if you would like to report your scores or cancel them. It is always a good idea to report your scores even if you felt you did poorly. All this means is ETS will make your scores for that day part of your official record. However, you do not have to send these scores to schools. If you cancel your scores, you will never know how you did.
After you choose to report your scores, your unofficial Verbal and Quantitative scores will quickly appear on the screen. It does happen fast, so be prepared to see it. You will then have the option to send your scores to four other recipients. You will input your recipients one at a time, either by name or school code. There might be additional information required, such as the specific department you want your scores sent to within the school. If you do not see your school as an option on the computer, the testing administrator will give you a form to fill out where you will write the school’s information manually. You must fill this form out prior to leaving the testing center.
When you are sending your scores, you will have the option to use ScoreSelect. This tool allows you to either send the recipients all GRE scores within the last five years (if you have taken the exam more than once) or only the GRE score from that day. Although you will be sending GRE scores, knowing your unofficial Verbal and Quantitative scores, please note you will not know your Analytical Writing score at this point.
You will be notified 10-15 days later via email when your official score has been released. This will include your Analytical Writing score. Your official score report will be automatically mailed out to your selected recipients at this time. They will not be able to see the other recipients you have chosen, only your section scores, percentiles, and intended field of study.
Sending Scores for Paper-Delivered GRE
Similar to the computer-based exam, the cost for taking the paper-delivered GRE will also include sending your scores to up to four recipients. However, you must select your score recipients during registration. This means you will be sending your scores without knowing your unofficial Verbal and Quantitative score.
It will take about five weeks for your official scores to be processed, at which time they will automatically be sent out to your chosen recipients.
Sending Valid Scores After Test Day
ETS also gives test takers the option to send out score reports after they have taken the GRE. However, there will be a fee of $27 per score recipient. Although these score reports can be ordered by mail or fax, the easiest way will be to order them online. If you log on to your ETS account, under the heading “Scores” on the home page, you will see the option to click “Send Additional Score Reports.” After updating your personal information, you will be able to look up the schools by name or code.
Similar to sending your scores out on test day, you will be able to use ETS’ ScoreSelect tool. However, this time you will not only be able to choose from “Most Recent” (the score from your most recent GRE) and “All” (all previous GRE scores), but you will have the option to choose “Any.” This will allow you to send scores from one or as many test administrations as you would like.
Despite the inconvenience of the $27 fee for each recipient, the option to send score reports after you have taken the GRE is beneficial to those who took the exam before knowing the schools they wanted to apply to. Also, for students who are applying to more than four programs, you will need to purchase the additional score reports after you select the four recipients on test day. Once you have purchased the additional score reports, you will not be able to cancel, change, or receive a refund. It’s essentially as permanent as a tattoo.
There are some things you will want to keep in mind. You cannot mix and match test dates to create a superscore. For example, you cannot combine a Verbal score from one GRE with a Quantitative score from another GRE taken on a different date. Last but not least, some schools will require you send all of your past GRE scores, so be sure to do your research on your program’s requirements.
When to Retake The GRE Even If Scores Are Valid
Some of you might be thinking, “Okay, I took the GRE a while ago but my scores are valid. They aren’t great scores, but they are valid scores! Should I really retake the GRE, or just submit what I have?”
The answer is, it depends.
Technically, a good GRE score is one that will gain you acceptance into the program you are applying to (and perhaps give you an edge for a scholarship). It is important that you are realistic about your past GRE score in terms of how competitive it is for the programs you want to apply for. The first step is to do your research and see what your school(s) GRE score requirement is. Also, be aware that some departments will have a different GRE score requirement than the school.
If you don’t want to retake the GRE, but deep down you understand you should, just know you will be happy you did so once you receive your first acceptance letter. You do not want to simply submit past scores in order to avoid trying to get better ones, and then get denied acceptance into graduate school or your chosen MBA program. You might always be left thinking, “Would I have been admitted if I retook the GRE?”
Summary of How Long GRE Scores Are Valid
GRE scores are valid for five years. For example, if you took your GRE on August 12, 2019 they will expire on August 12, 2024. At this time, you will have no way of accessing your score report.
For valid GRE scores, ETS provides two options for you to send your score reports to recipients. For the computer-delivered GRE, you can send your score report to four recipients on test day at no additional cost. For the paper-delivered GRE, you can send your score report to four recipients, also at no additional cost, but you will have to do so when you register for the exam.
Whether you took the computer-delivered or paper-delivered GRE, you will be able to log into your ETS account and send additional score reports for a fee of $27 per recipient.