Was Your GRE Canceled? You Can Take It at Home

a close up of a women's hands on laptop keyboard taking the gre general test at home -image by magoosh

Due to COVID-19, many of you have had your GRE exams canceled. Educational Testing Services (ETS), the makers of the test, announced that they are now letting certain students take the GRE general test at home.

Who’s Eligible to Take the GRE at Home?

As of March 24, 2020, only students in the following countries are eligible: United States, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, and Macau. ETS has not yet indicated if they’ll be offering this service in other locations.

As of April 2, 2020, the at-home GRE is available everywhere that the computer-delivered GRE is offered, with the exception of Mainland China and Iran.

How Does the GRE at-Home Experience Work?

ETS has partnered with ProctorU, a company founded in 2008 that’s delivered millions of proctored online exams.

Overall, ETS and ProctorU are trying to recreate the testing environment in your home, so the requirements are similar to what you’d expect at a test center with some additional ones for security/integrity purposes.

Among a number of other requirements, you need the following:

  • Windows laptop or desktop. You cannot use a tablet or other mobile devices and you also cannot use a Mac.
  • Private space. You cannot take the test in public (e.g. a park or coffee shop) and no one else can be in the room.
  • Desk or table and chair. You cannot take the test lying in bed or on a couch.
  • Webcam. You’ll need to be able to move it around to show the proctor a 360-degree view of your room including your desk or table.
  • Microphone and speaker. You need this to talk with the proctor. However, you cannot use headphones, earbuds or anything else that covers your ears.

They also have some restrictions, including no food or drink during the test and no accessories, such as tie clips, cufflinks, jewelry, headbands, etc.

There is one major difference between taking the GRE general test at home and at a testing center: you cannot use regular scratch paper. You’ll need to use a whiteboard with a dry erase marker OR paper with a transparent sheet protector and erasable marker in order to erase all notes in view of the proctor.

Below are additional security measures:

  • They’ll be recording your face (via webcam) and your screen so they can see all actions, and there will be a live proctor.
  • You cannot communicate with anyone else.
  • You’ll need to use a handheld mirror or phone to show the proctor your screen.
  • You cannot use any unauthorized materials, including mobile devices, pre-written notes, or textbooks.
  • Any type of suspicious activity or movement could invalidate your test.

You can see a full list of requirements on the ETS site.

Do You Get Any Breaks?

The GRE has six sections:

  • One Analytical Writing Assessment, including one issue essay and argument essay. This section always appears first.
  • Two Math, two Verbal, and one Experimental (Math or Verbal). These sections can appear in any order.

After your third section, you get a ten-minute break, during which you can leave your seat. However, if you do not return on time, your test will be canceled and your fee will not be refunded. After all other sections, you’ll get a one-minute break but you must remain in your seat. ETS does not allow any unscheduled breaks.

Should You Take the GRE at Home?

It depends. The requirements may feel onerous. That said, ETS is trying to make the best of a difficult situation by offering this option, especially for those in countries encouraging or requiring people to stay indoors due to the rapid spread of coronavirus.

To determine if taking the GRE general test at home is right for you, you’ll want to think about your at-home situation. If you have a private space and can spend four hours (the length of the GRE) without interruptions, then this could be a good option. If, like me, you have two young kids at home and your family is required to mostly stay indoors, then this might be more challenging, and you may want to wait until test centers open again.

If you were originally planning to take the GRE with accommodations, it’s important to note that the at-home GRE test does not offer accommodations at this point in time.

Feeling unsure? You can try it out first! ETS offers two free practice tests, so try to take one at home using the exact same setup you’d use for the actual test. Follow the proper rules for breaks and food and drink, and see if it works for you. You could even turn on a Zoom or Google Meet and share your screen with a friend in order to replicate the feeling of being monitored (I never thought I’d be writing something like that!).

If you do decide to take it at home, you do have some advantages. Here are a few tips:

  • Over the course of your studies, take a few practice tests in the same setup that you plan to use for the actual test. In addition to the two free tests, ETS offers three paid ones. Magoosh also offers practice tests in our product.
  • Take these tests at the same time of day that you plan to take your actual test, so you can develop a rhythm and routine.
  • Use the same device you plan to for test day.
  • Don’t use regular scratch paper; use a whiteboard or paper with a transparent sheet protector instead.

Let us know if you have any questions. You can also reach out to our team at help@magoosh.com for more information. And if you’ve used ProctorU before or you end up taking the GRE at home, please contact us as well! We’d love to hear about your experience.

P.S. Ready to improve your GRE score? Get started today.

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