Magoosh Expert

Can I Use Scratch Paper on the Online GRE?

A student writing on a piece of paper

Physical scratch paper is a valuable tool for note-taking and problem-solving on the paper-based GRE. However, with the move to the online GRE, the policies regarding scratch paper have been updated for security purposes. In this article, we will explore the guidelines and alternatives for using scratch paper during the online GRE.

Why is scratch paper useful on the GRE?

During the GRE, a test taker may find scratch paper to be an invaluable resource for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, for the Quantitative Reasoning section, scratch paper can be an essential tool for working out complex mathematical problems, allowing test takers to visualize their calculations and thus reduce errors. Secondly, in the Analytical Writing section, scratch paper can be used to outline one’s essay prior to writing, helping to structure arguments logically and ensure that all parts of the prompt are addressed. Lastly, for the Verbal Reasoning section, jotting down key points can aid in comprehension and recall, particularly in text completion and reading comprehension questions. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with complex passages or multi-part questions.

Updated scratch paper guidelines

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While the online GRE has bid farewell to traditional scratch paper for security reasons, they’ve introduced some cool alternatives to keep your note-taking game strong.

Small desktop whiteboard: Test-takers may use a small desktop whiteboard with an erasable marker for note-taking and calculations during the exam. The whiteboard offers a surface to jot down important information, work through problems, and organize thoughts.

Sheet of paper in a transparent sheet protector: Another option is to use a single sheet of paper enclosed in a transparent sheet protector. This setup allows you to write on the paper with an erasable marker, providing a similar experience to using traditional scratch paper.

Note: Pencils and pens are not permitted for any form of note-taking during the online GRE.

Once you’re done conquering the GRE, you’ll need to show your proctor that you’ve erased all your notes. This step ensures that no unauthorized notes or information are carried out of the testing environment.

Adapting to the change

For test-takers accustomed to using traditional scratch paper, these new tools might feel a bit alien at first. But here’s the deal: practice makes perfect.

Start by choosing the tool that you feel most comfortable with – either the small desktop whiteboard or the single sheet of paper in a transparent sheet protector. Next, take the time to practice with it during your study sessions. Train yourself to use the space efficiently, develop strategies for notation, and become proficient at erasing your work quickly and completely.

Whichever note-taking tool you end up using on your online GRE, your success hinges on your understanding of the concepts, your problem-solving skills, and your dedication to practice. So, embrace the change, make the most of these new note-taking tools, and power forward toward your GRE goals.


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