When Should I Cancel My GRE Score?

Many of us have experienced this before: You walk out of a math test thinking you bombed it. A week later, the professor hands back the exams and the butterflies are wreaking havoc in your stomach. You’re waiting for that dreaded F but, to your surprise, you pulled off a B! If this has happened to you before, you’re not alone.

Fast forward to GRE Test Day. You just finished the exam. You’re physically and mentally exhausted. That old familiar feeling of dread creeps in. You think you bombed the test. You have a decision to make before leaving the test center: should you cancel your scores?

First, there are a few things you should know about how this works. You need to decide before you leave the test center whether or not to cancel your scores. You don’t get to see your scores before making this decision. You, and you alone, have to gauge how well you did – without first seeing your scores! This can be really difficult! Once you’ve left the test center, it’s too late to cancel them. Also know that you are canceling all of the sections’ scores, not just one of them. So, if you think you aced the quant section but choked on the verbal section, you’re out of luck. It’s either all or nothing.

The bottom line: in most cases you should report your scores. Many students underestimate their performance on standardized tests. This is further complicated by the fact that the GRE computer-delivered test, the test that most people take, is adaptive. ETS states “The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are section-level adaptive. This means the computer selects the second operational section of a measure based on your performance on the first section.”

What was that again? The adaptive nature of the test means that that the questions on the second sections of both the verbal and quant portions of the GRE are determined by your performance on the first sections of the verbal and quant. Your raw score is then computed by the total number of questions you answered correctly, which is then converted to a scaled score based on a process called equating, which takes into consideration the difficulty of the questions. Simple, right? Um, not really. The scoring system makes it difficult to predict how you did, which is why you should keep those scores instead of canceling them.

Are there any situations when you should cancel your score? Of course. If you’ve taken tons of practice tests and have a track record of accurately predicting your test performance and you’re certain that you did poorly on the GRE, then perhaps you should cancel your scores. If you had a stomach bug the night before or woke up on test day with a 102 degree fever, then canceling is probably the thing to do. Otherwise, take your chances and report your scores. You’ve already invested time and money into the process. If you’re disappointed when you get your scores, you can always retake the GRE.

One last thing: if you choose to cancel, no refunds are given by ETS.

Now for some good news. Suppose you canceled your scores but a week later you have a change of heart and wish to report them. You can pay a $50 fee to reinstate your score! You have this option for up to 60 days after test date. ETS has thought of everything so your decision to cancel isn’t permanent.

The GRE now has a ScoreSelect Option. This allows you to send scores from any or all of your GRE tests in the past five years. The schools you choose will only see the scores you selected and won’t know if you took the GRE on other dates. This flexibility hopefully makes the process less stressful! For more information on the ScoreSelect Option, read this page from ETS:

GRE ScoreSelect Option

Try not to overthink the process. Set your mind to doing well on test day and you won’t have to worry about canceling your scores. Get started now with Ready4 GRE.