"Success takes time: How i got the 99th percentile after 5 (!) tries"


Danielle’s dream grad school has always been Yale, and she knew that if she was going to get in, she had to get a great GRE score (amongst other things of course). With this goal in mind, she started prepping for her GRE early on.

Danielle felt like she was a strong student and used prep apps (like Ready4GRE) and the official GRE guide to study before her first exam date. On her first try she scored a 152 for verbal and a 153 for quant, and for a top program, Danielle knew she needed to do a lot better.


She thought maybe with some more studying and practice questions she could increase her score. On her second try, she scored a 153 in verbal and down to a 152 in quant (about the same score). She was very discouraged, having made no more progress despite having studied an additional month.


Danielle changed routes a little and decided to buy a prep book from a test prep company that was more in depth than the official guide. She studied this way for another month in preparation for her third try. On her third take, Danielle improved a little, but not enough: a 157 in verbal and a 159 in quant. At this point, Danielle realized she wasn’t going to be able to get a Yale-level score unless she seriously changed her study habits.


She decided to look into more comprehensive GRE courses and realized the prep app she used offered a Hybrid Course where she could take the classes on her own time while still finishing up her undergraduate degree. After completing the 4 week course, where Danielle felt like she was understanding the timing and tricks of the GRE much more, she went to take her GRE for the fourth time.


The fourth time did the trick - Danielle scored a 167 on verbal and a 165 on quant. But she knew that realistically her quant score was a bit low for her target program and she needed one more shot to increase her math score. She specifically studied math tricks and practice problems for a couple more weeks in prep for her fifth and final try.


On her fifth try, Danielle was able to focus her prep on her weak areas and score higher than she thought she ever could: a 168 on verbal and a 169 on quant.


Danielle’s advice to students:

  1. Even though I started studying early and preparing early to get into my target grad program, this didn’t mean GRE preparation came easy to me.

  2. My process took a long time! Months of taking an retaking the GRE (and not always submitting my scores), slowly changing my study habits and plans in order to figure out my weaknesses and make use of my strengths.

  3. Don’t give up. I was super discouraged particularly after getting about the same score twice - it happens. But look where I ended up - keep your goals in focus and you will succeed! Get the help you need.