Downside to taking GRE on a whim?

I’m out of college a few years. If I take the GRE for the hell of it, just to see if I get a good score, and then get a bad score, exactly how bad would that be in the grand scheme of things?

Not sure that there is a factual answer, but…

I tried pretty much the same thing a while back. Not the greatest idea in the world.

The GRE reports – at least when I took it – reported all your scores in the previous five years, and basically let schools figure out what score they want to accept. Consider the message that a poor score followed by a good score sends to your admissions officer: true, it could have been just a fluke, but it would also look like an applicant didn’t bother to study for the first test, then got serious and did their homework before taking the second. Doesn’t sound like the greatest candidate for a quality grad student.

Given that one can take the GRE at pretty much any time in those computerized test centers, I see very little reason not to spend a bit of time studying before taking the test. Especially if you are intending to study a social science and haven’t used your basic math and geometery skills in a while, you can significantly raise your score with a few weeks of study.

You would have to take the GRE again and get a good enough score for the Grad program you are applying to. A little note on the application explaining the circumstances of the earlier test should be sufficient. They will see both scores.

If you never apply to Grad school, it means nothing.

Of course, if you get a 990 on the advanced subject test, no worries. I certainly never fretted about it again.

I’ve evaluated grad admissions applications (in physics), and generally I assumed that a lower score was a “bad day” for the student and used the higher one as my baseline. There usually weren’t more than two; three or more, though, reflected a little negatively (kind of like the applicant was the type of student who would hit up his professors for every last point on every last assignment.)

So sure, you could take the GRE without studying — assuming you’re a smart enough person to get a good score with studying, should you crash and burn the first time — but why waste the $115? If you’re going to be living a grad student lifestyle soon, you’d be better off saving it…

And, of course, I’m assuming that you are at least considering going on to grad school. If not, then you really would be wasting your $115.

It costs a bit…
plus, if more than 5 years later you actually want to go to grad school, you’ll be annoyed that you have to retake it and spend the money all over again.

Plus, my score dropped 20 points on the verbal. Stupid verbal.

It would be a lot cheaper to buy a GRE study book and take one of the practice tests. If you want the real experience, pay a friend 20 bucks to time you, read the instructions in a monotone, and walk around you while you’re taking the test making sure you’re not cheating.

And if you decide you do want to go to grad school, you’ve got the book to get you up to speed for the real test.

Quercus speaks the truth. Don’t pay for the real test if you’re just doing it for kicks, take a practice test.

I’ll add that you wouldn’t even have to buy a book or rope a friend into helping, there are a number of places online where you can take a free practice GRE. Since the test is administered on a computer, these are a relatively accurate simulation of the test-taking experience…

Thanks all. I was mostly concerned with whether schools would see all your scores. Since they do, I guess I’ll buy the book first.