Interested in grad school in USA? Then you could be one of the numerous students who are not only faced with the daunting tests – GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language), but also the question when to take the test. Even though there is no perfect time to take these tests, keeping in mind the following can help you make a better decision:
Would you be attending your Graduate School soon?
There are debates on the ideal time to take GRE. Many claim that it is important to take it during your first year of college while a vast majority of students wait until their senior year. As GRE consists of stuff that you would learn during your initial years in college, you need not be waiting till your senior year, which would be the busiest time of your student life. However, not all students want to fly straight away to a grad school in US immediately after their graduation. GRE scores are valid only for five years and taking the test during the first year would be a mistake if you wish to get a few years of professional experience before you hit grad school. The best time to take TOEFL would be immediately after GRE and the scores are valid for two years after the test date.
What Is The Application Deadline For The Program?
This is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when taking GRE and TOEFL. Application deadlines for various programs differ from university to university and the semester you choose to join. Most international students are admitted during the fall semester. Admission deadlines for the top universities in US are November or December of the previous year. Hence it is ideal to take GRE during early June and TOEFL by end of June or early July. This will make sure that you have your scores ready to complete online application for your program. Prospective students who wish to join during the spring semester must submit their completed applications by end of July of the year before, even though a few universities have September and October deadlines. The months of April and May would be the most appropriate for taking GRE and TOEFL if you are an international student applying for a spring semester program in US.
What If You Have Taken A Break?
If you have decided to return to grad school after taking up a job for a few years, it is important to dedicate enough time for GRE and TOEFL preparation before you take the tests. Taking the test during the busiest quarter of your professional life would not help you give your best.
To summarize, for students who wish to join grad school in US immediately after their graduation, sometime between the spring semester of their junior year and the fall semester of their senior year will the most appropriate. This will also give them sufficient time for a retake of the tests, if things don't go well as planned.