Can I Cancel My Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Score?

The short answer is yes, but you might not need to anymore

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Imagine: You're taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and you have a distinct feeling that you're doing poorly. Maybe you don't know the answer to most questions. Perhaps you feel like you're going with your hunch more than you should. Your head might be buzzing and you might be questioning every response you make. Should you cancel your score? Can you?

The short answer is yes, you can cancel your score but you only have one chance to do so, and it may be more advantageous to seek alternative means of submitting your highest score instead of canceling a result outright. Read on to discover all you need to know about when and if you should cancel your GRE score.

You Can Cancel, But Should You?

When you finish the test, the computer will give you the option of canceling the test or accepting the result. This is your only chance to cancel the score. If you accept the test, your score will be displayed on the monitor. That score is your official GRE score and it will be sent to all schools that you designate. On the other hand, if you cancel, nothing happens and you won't see the score you received. 

Since you only get one chance to cancel — and it might be a waste to do so — think carefully before clicking to cancel your score. Everyone is nervous about their performance. Is your anxiety normal? Is it simply a function of taking a high-stakes exam? Or are your suspicions of poor performance founded?

What Happens If I Cancel My Score?

If you cancel your score and still plan on applying to graduate school, you'll have to retake the GRE, paying another fee to reschedule your exam. That means as soon as you click that button to cancel, you're going to have to go through the entire process all over again! What's worse, you have to wait 21 days between exams, so if you've just spent the last three weeks preparing for this one, you get to look forward to doing more of that for the next three. 

Otherwise, there is no sort of "punishment" or limit to the number of times you can cancel your scores. Realistically, you could go take the test once every 21 days for a year, canceling the results each time, and never have a GRE result. But you don't want that, and you probably don't want to have to endure extra study time because of a bad feeling, so it's very important for you to carefully consider the option before clicking "cancel." 

Today, There's No Need to Cancel GRE Scores

Do you ever need to cancel your GRE score? Realistically, no. Once upon a time canceling GRE scores was sometimes a good idea because all GRE scores used to be reported to graduate programs, no matter what. One bad score could seriously mess up your admissions odds. Suffering a particularly stressful experience near the exam (like an accident on the way to the testing center) or some other emergency that interfered with your performance would be a cause to seriously consider canceling your scores. This is not the case today.

Years ago canceling GRE scores based on a hunch might have been a good idea in order to prevent poor scores from being reported to graduate programs. Today it's not needed. A relatively new program, GRE SelectScore, means that you choose which set of scores to use. Should you bomb the GRE, there is no need to tell graduate programs. Just take the GRE again and report the highest scores.