I intend on taking the GRE but I haven't had the time to study much and so now I feel I am facing the option of either

  • Taking the GRE anyway, most likely getting very unimpressive scores and applying to academic programs with these scores, or
  • Cutting my losses and applying for programs the next time they announce applications (which, in some cases, is a year from now).

Is it possible to apply with my first scores as some sort of "provisional" score and inform them that I will be re-taking the rest soon? How much does a "bad first time, better second time" affect how admissions reviewers see applicants? In the case that extra background information would be helpful, I am a non-traditional student who already has a (short) record of research experience.

  • I am in a similar situation, though I decided to take it anyway. Now I am wondering if its even worth while studying for it more and send additional scores or just forget it until decisions are out and instead focus on my research position I currently hold...and if I don't get in anywhere I want instead just then only study for the GRE again... Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


Honestly, the GRE scores are perhaps the most useless part of the application record. Good scores tell me that someone speaks English well, and is capable of basic mathematics. A bad score could just be a signpost of having a bad day, or perhaps some issues with English that don't necessarily translate into being a bad student or a bad researcher. (Just about the only thing GRE scores tend to correlate with in grad school is the performance in first-year classes!)

If you do have replacement scores, you can definitely send them to grad schools. They'll be considered, but they're not likely to sway a decision (unless the school has a minimum cutoff—which is possible for international students).

  • if its the most useless then why put us through the pain of doing it and distracting us from things that actually matter? Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 22:20
  • Because that's what's always been done. (Seriously. It's inertia more than anything else.)
    – aeismail
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 23:26
  • is there a way to motivate universities to abandon such useless traditions? Or at least the first step to motivate to stop this? Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 22:38

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