Take the GRE and cancel the score?
June 19, 2006 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to take the GRE without having the score counted on my record?

I would like to take the GRE but only to experience the simulation of the test experience and to obtain an idea of my strengths and weaknesses (more precisely, my score range.) Is it possible to do take the real GRE and have my score revealed to me but not recorded anywhere?
posted by gregb1007 to Education (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can cancel your score right after finishing the test (and before you know what the score is). Your score is then revealed to you. However, your GRE report (which is automatic just by taking it officially) will record that you cancelled your score.

This is too bad because it really helps to experience the test room and working on a computer - I found that part really difficult (both times I took it).
posted by meerkatty at 6:47 PM on June 19, 2006

I took an MCAT course with Kaplan; they had simulated test days. I'm not sure if they have the computers to simulate the GRE.

Kaplan and their GRE course.
posted by porpoise at 6:51 PM on June 19, 2006

You can take a practice GRE for free at Kaplan. Call your local center and they'll set it up.
posted by k8t at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2006

Response by poster: k8t, I took a practice GRE test with Kaplan, but it was not at all like the real test. First of all, it was a pen and paper test instead of a computer one. Second, it lasted about 45 minutes. This is much shorter than the real test experience.
posted by gregb1007 at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2006

Actually, I was told that when you cancel your score, you never find out what it was. I had a friend do it, and it struck me as odd to do all that work and then waste the money. Those tests are expensive.

I would suggest you get some books to review the math and verbal skills that will be covered on the test. They made a world of difference for me. I did the math one cover to cover because I hadn't taken any math classes in 5 years and ended up with a 710 (out of 800) with little aptitude with math.

You can also download a copy of a program the GRE company has on their website, which is a simulator of the real computer program used in the exams. The instructions and buttons were all the same, and they gave a score at the end too. That was helpful because they gave an idea of how to use the program, so I could test without worrying that i'd hit the wrong key and lose points.

From what I've heard the Kaplan courses are extremely expensive, and basically go over what you could do yourself with a few prep books. You just need to be motivated enough to spend time every day working on it, and trust me, It will pay off. I would reccomend buying a seperate math and verbal workbook. the general one was less specific and had less practice questions. Reviewing the format of the writing section was important too. If I remember correctly, I bought the Kaplan Verbal and Math Workbooks for about 15 dollars each, new, and you can find them used on amazon for less.

good luck!
posted by gilsonal at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2006

Can I cancel my scores?
Yes. You can cancel your scores immediately after you take the GRE. This is the only time you can cancel your scores. Unfortunately, you must make the decision to cancel at the testing center before you see your scores. In addition, the fact that you cancelled your scores will be noted on your official GRE score report.
- link
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2006

BTW, I'd be very careful about cancelling the score. It stays on your record for as long as valid scores and is viewed very negatively when there's more than one.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:12 PM on June 19, 2006

Have you considered buying a test material book? These come with a CD-ROM with which you can take a practice exam that very closely (if not precisely) matches the test-day GRE experience.
posted by Mr. Six at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2006

A couple of friends of mine report that the questions/atmosphere of those take-at-home GRE on-computer tests aren't comparable to the real thing - in all cases that I know of, the test taker did much better on the real thing. Your mileage may vary, of course.
posted by muddgirl at 7:30 PM on June 19, 2006

You can do the simulation at home. No one but you will know how you scored.

...GRE POWERPREP Software - Test Preparation for the GRE General Test is sent to you when you register for the GRE computer-based General Test.... The software includes..two actual computer-adaptive tests for the verbal and quantitative sections...POWERPREP lets you practice writing essays under simulated GRE testing conditions with the same GRE word processing and testing tools that appear on the test...POWERPREP was developed using the same software that is used to administer the General Test at computer-based test centers...

On preview: yeah, I too did better on the real test than the home simulation. *shrug* It was a pleasant surprise.

I vaguely recall that there was also some option for replacing a recorded score by re-taking the test. Though maybe they've changed the rules since I don't see it mentioned. But ask if that's what the concern is about.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:36 PM on June 19, 2006

I agree that the paper and pencil test isn't totally like the real thing, but 45 minutes? That's weird! It should take 3 hours at Kaplan. That paper/pencil test is relatively reflective of your true score and most people score better on the paper/pencil than on the CAT (computer aided test).

How'd you do on your paper/pencil test?

If you didn't do well, consider taking a test prep course. The tricks in math alone are worth it. The things that Kaplan teaches you about answering math questions is AMAZING.

You can take the test and cancel your score, unlike what SeizeTheDay says, it isn't viewed negatively. The school doesn't see that you cancelled the score at all.

Try to take a computerized test if at all possible, because it is as close to the real thing as you can get.

(note: I am a Kaplan instructor and have been for many years.)
posted by k8t at 7:39 PM on June 19, 2006

And if you're already scoring high and just want to push over to extremely high, I'd say to buy some tutoring (if you can afford it, although Kaplan does have financial aid) -- it is worth it!
posted by k8t at 7:41 PM on June 19, 2006

The school doesn't see that you cancelled the score at all.

Did you read my link? And ask any admissions advisor and they'll tell you that 2 or more cancellations are viewed negatively.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:44 PM on June 19, 2006

SeizeTheDay is wrong. See ETS's website for the official policy on cancelling scores:

"Institutions will not receive any information about your canceled scores or about any previous scores you may have on file."
posted by Mr. Six at 7:59 PM on June 19, 2006

Whoa. I'm not trying to be argumentative here, but "institutions will not receive any information about your cancelled scores" does not mean the same thing as "cancelled scores will remain on your score report."

If I'm understanding this correctly, institutions will not be notified directly that you cancelled your score. However, when an institution pulls your score report, won't there be a record that you once took the test and cancelled it?

Another link.
Can I cancel my scores?
Yes. You can cancel your scores immediately after you take the GRE test. This is the only time you can cancel your scores. Unfortunately, you must make the decision to cancel at the testing center before you see your scores. In addition, the fact that you cancelled your scores will be noted on your official GRE score report.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2006

Based on personal experience, it's tremendously difficult to dig up your own score in the ETS records without providing your SSN. This suggests to me that it's the primary test-taker identifier.

Given that you can register to take the tests without giving your social security number, using only a name, address, and DOB. I thus surmise that an unscrupulous person might proceed as follows:

Register without SSN. If you're happy with the score you get, proceed as usual. If not, you may try to take it again, reregistering with a different address and using the SSN.

Don't know if it'd work, just know that it was damned near impossible to dig up my scores based on name, address and DOB alone.

All that said, just practice a few times and take the damned test.
posted by piro at 8:26 PM on June 19, 2006

Erm, institutions don't pull GRE scores. You, the test-taker, specify the institutions who see your scores. If you apply to other schools, you have to order additional score reports.

Again, from ETS, the official GRE testing organization:

When are scores reported?

If you take the computer-based General Test, you can view your unofficial verbal and quantitative scores at the test center; however, because of the essay scoring process, you will not be able to view your analytical writing scores at that time. Verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing scores on the computer-based General Test will be sent to you and the institutions you designate within 10 to 15 days of your test administration.

posted by Mr. Six at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2006

Note to the OP:

Princeton Review is a test preparation company that, like any test prep service, profits from having you think that doing bad on the test is the end of the world, and so you should prepare as if it is the end of the world.

You would really be better off visiting ETS.org for official answers on these and other GRE-related questions, instead of relying on third-party misinformation.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:33 PM on June 19, 2006

You are missing my point, Mr. Six. Reporting of scores happens in at least two different ways. The first way is the scores being directly sent to the institution when you take the test. The second way is to take the test, let it stay on your record for a while, and then apply for grad school down the road. At that time, wouldn't your cancelled score be on your record, like the LSAT or GMAT?

LSAC will automatically report the results of all LSATs in your file, including cancellations and absences, since June 1, 2001. The scores are averaged and also appear separately. If you wish to have older scores obtained between June 1, 1997 and June 1, 2001 placed on a current file, you may do so by sending a signed, dated request to LSAC. - link

A “+++” symbol in place of a score means there is no reportable score. This may be because the test taker canceled his or her score, Pearson VUE canceled the score after a security investigation, or no valid score could be obtained because of significant mistimings or because the test taker did not respond to the questions. - link
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:42 PM on June 19, 2006

SeizeTheDay is right. If you cancel your score that will show up on your GRE score report that you send to schools. This is similar to the GMAT (also run by ETS). With the GMAT as well as the GRE, if you take the test twice, both scores are reported. So if you cancelled once, then took the test for real 2 times and then applied to grad school, all of the schools that you send the scores to, would see those 3 things. This is why cancelling is bad. It is also better to only take it once and score highly.
posted by bove at 9:50 PM on June 19, 2006

I evaluate applications from prospective grad students on a regular basis, and it's not uncommon to see people who have written the GRE twice (i.e., I get sent two sets of scores, from tests written 4-6 months apart). I have never seen a case where someone has cancelled but maybe that's because it doesn't happen very often.

Speaking only for myself, when I see two sets of scores I usually look at the higher ones, with the understanding that some just need a second kick at the can to show off what they know. I believe my department as a whole has the policy that they look at the higher set of scores when determining scholarships etc.

All that to say, if you take it once and mess up royally, use it as a learning experience and take it a second time.
posted by drmarcj at 10:12 PM on June 19, 2006

When I took the GRE three years ago, the POWERPREP software was almost less than useless. Sure, it showed me what sort of interface I'd be using and some of the questions I might get. However, it wasn't adaptive like the proper exam was. That meant that while I found that POWERPREP software to be trivially easy, the proper exam was surprisingly challenging. Luckily I still got a decent score but unless they've improved the software, it's not a good simulation of the real experience.
posted by adrianhon at 11:47 PM on June 19, 2006

It's very expensive to be doing GREs and not keeping your score. I can't remember if you do get to see the full score before you decide to cancel - I think I did see them, but I also remember thinking my score was much worse than it actually was. (I nearly cancelled, feeling panicked and scared, only to find out my scores were great.)

The free PowerPrep program from ETS accurately predicted my score range.

That said, while the PowerPrep software isn't perfect, it's still pretty damn good. It's all I used, and I had quite good GRE scores (which, unlike SATs, are never combined into one score, by ETS or the university). The important part of the PowerPrep is getting you used to working under time pressure and how the interface works. For the quantitative section, five years ago they had booklets with good review material -- all free from ETS.

Frankly, unless you have done the test and seriously need to improve your score, you don't need to pay for courses. I taught myself the teachable part of the test in the course of a couple of weekends.
posted by jb at 1:30 AM on June 20, 2006

Oh, I was wrong - I hadn't seen my scores when I thought about cancelling. It's a bad moment - after 5 hours of test, including one repeated section, and on not as much sleep as I should have had. My last section wasn't terrific (quantitative), but it was made up for by my other two and I wasn't going for science.
posted by jb at 1:33 AM on June 20, 2006

They'll send you a CD which is the exact same thing as the test, and you'll see your scores. The only time you won't is with the analytical writing, which was the tricky part for me (I write well in every circumstance EXCEPT standardized test writing.)
posted by dagnyscott at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2006

I took the GRE a second time and cancelled the test. They don't show you your score. Trust me. I did purchase a copy of the Princeton Review's test preparation book which included a CD. It had at least 2 full length computer tests similar to the GRE plus individual practice sections. I did find these helpful when preparing for the exam. Make sure you do find some way to take a full length test before the actual experience. It takes some time to get used to taking an exam that long. Good luck!
posted by theantikitty at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2006

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