As we all know, 2020 brought some major disruptions to college admissions testing. The good news is that as the world reopens, the testing centers are too. But because the GRE is offered so frequently, both at home now and at many testing centers during many different time slots, you may be a little overwhelmed with choosing the best GRE test date and how to register for the GRE.
Never fear, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing the right GRE test date for YOU!
Table of Contents
- GRE Test Dates: How often are GRE tests offered?
- How do I register for the GRE?
- When should I take the GRE?
- A Final Word: Other Factors to Consider When Choosing GRE Test Dates
GRE Test Dates: How often are GRE tests offered?
Before choosing your exam date, it’s important to understand your GRE testing options.
Currently, you can take the GRE at home or at a testing center, wherever you feel most comfortable. If you take the GRE at home, testing dates are available 24/7, around the clock, with testing appointment slots available up to 24 hours after your register! Talk about convenience!
A couple of quick things to note:
- The at-home GRE is available everywhere the GRE General Test is available, except in China and Iran.
- If you choose to take the GRE at home, you will receive the exact same test that you would at a testing center, with identical content and an identical on-screen experience.
If you take the GRE at a testing center, you will have the option to take the computer-based GRE, which most people do, in which case you will have the option to choose your own testing date. Testing dates are widely available, with the exception of Sundays and holidays.
At this point, the GRE is offered almost exclusively as a computer-based test, but there are select paper-based testing dates as well for 2021-2022, and registration opens in July. They are listed below.
For Paper-Based Testing in the United States and Puerto Rico:
|Test Dates||Regular Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline||Supplementary Test Center and Monday Administration Deadline||Scores Available Online||Approximate Score Mailing Date|
For Paper-Based Testing in All Other Locations, Including U.S. Territories:
|Test Date||Regular Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline||Supplementary Test Center and Monday Administration Deadline||Scores Available Online||Approximate Score Report Mailing Date|
- A growing list of graduate schools are waiving the GRE for 2021. Here is a complete list of 20+ schools that don’t require the GRE in 2021.
GRE Sign Up: How do I register for the GRE?
Now that you have a sense of when the GRE will be offered in 2021 and beyond, let’s take a closer, step-by-step look at how to register for the GRE. Registration steps will vary based on which form of the test you’re taking.
GRE Registration Checklist
- An ETS account (if you don’t have one yet, read on!)
- A method of payment for GRE fees
- Decide if you need to request GRE accommodations
- A passport or other form of accepted ID—we recommend passports as the most universally accepted GRE ID (and sometimes the only accepted GRE ID, depending on where you are)
- An idea of when grad school applications are due, to help determine your test date and prep plan. Varies by program and start date.
How to Register for GRE Online Test Dates: How do I register for the GRE at home?
If you opt to take the GRE at home, the registration process is pretty straightforward.
- First, here’s a great video from ETS that will cover everything you need to know about taking the GRE at home, including a guide to registration.
- Next, you’ll need to confirm the equipment and environment requirements for taking the test online at home. This page covers everything you need to know from which operating systems and browsers are permissible to what your tabletop area should look like on testing day. Before you register you will want to test to make sure that your computer and testing room meet the requirements.
- Also, before you start, you’ll need your ID documents ready (ideally a passport, but you can read more about GRE ID requirements here). You will need to make sure you have an ETS account for the GRE General test, so if you don’t, you’ll need to create an account. The name on your account must match the name on your primary ID.
- If you need accommodations for a disability or a health-related need, you must request them before you register for a test.
- Then, after you’ve created an account, you’ll need to log in and on your My GRE Home page, select Register/Find Test Centers. On the “Find Test Centers and Dates” page, select the option for the test at home. If you’re eligible to take the test at home based on your address, you’ll be prompted to a “Test at home” option where you can begin your registration.
- After that, you’ll be prompted to verify your email address, select a test appointment, confirm your time zone, etc. Choose the 2-month window in which you’d like to test, then select an available time and date. Click “Register for this test” and then follow the directions as prompted.
- When you’re finished, you’ll receive a confirmation email from ETS with your test appointment information and the test link to launch your test at the time and date you selected. Keep this email for test day!
- Finally, if you need to reschedule or cancel your registration, you’ll need to do so at least four full days before your testing date (or 10 days for test-takers in Mainland China). You can only cancel and reschedule through your ETS account.
- How much does it cost to register for the GRE?
Taking the GRE can be pricey! It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the cost of taking the GRE as you prepare to choose your testing date.
How to Register for the GRE Computer-Based Test
- First and foremost, there’s no GRE exam eligibility criteria, so you can go ahead and register today if you want. The simplest way to register for the GRE computer-based test is to go to the ETS website registration portal. You can also register by phone, by calling your local test center, Prometric Services (1-443-751-4820/1-800-473-2255) at least two days before you hope to take the test.
- You’ll need to make an account on the ETS site before you can register for the test online. To do that, look in the upper right-hand corner of the above-linked ETS Registration portal, and click the small link that says “ETS Account.” Or click this direct link to “ETS Account.” On that page, click the “Create an Account” button on the lower right part of the screen. This will bring you to the account creation portal. There, fill in your account information and follow the instructions. You’ll have a fully verified account in a matter of minutes!
- Once you’ve created and verified your account, sign in. On the first page you see, under the heading “My Tests,” you can click the link that reads: “Register/Find Test Centers, Dates.”
- Next, enter your search criteria. First, you’ll want to select which test to take (GRE General Test). Then, pick your city. This gets weirdly specific (when I tried this myself, I never expected that the Amtrak station would be an option?! And, of course, it isn’t, just a search option), but usually just entering your city is enough.
- Beneath that, scroll through to the two-month window you’ve selected for testing (if you haven’t narrowed it down that far yet, you’ll need to do multiple searches).
- From there, you should see a screen that shows two months’ worth of dates. The test dates highlighted in green are the ones in which the GRE site says that testing is available in or near the city you’ve selected.
- The issue here is the GRE website’s definition of “near.” A site that is “near” you by GRE standards may be a fairly long commute from your actual location. And sometimes, only one inconveniently distant test site is available on a green-highlighted date. Even if you live in a fairly big city, you may find a very limited number of truly workable testing dates– dates highlighted in green that actually offer the GRE at test centers near you. So ideally, you should book the GRE well in advance: at least a month in advance, two or more months in advance if you can. That way, the testing dates and locations that work best for you are more likely to be open.
- Once you’ve selected your test date and location, you’ll arrive at the “Before You Register for a Test” screen. There, you need to accept the terms to move forward. This is also the last point at which you can request accommodations before registering, so make sure you click through there if you need to.
How to Register for the GRE Paper-Based Test
Registering for the GRE paper-based test isn’t that different from registering for the computer-based test. The main difference is that you won’t have the option to register by phone, but you will have the option to register by mail.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same. You’ll also need to go to the ETS website, create an account, and fill out a bunch of information. Note that there are some country-specific guidelines for payment, as well. ETS can change these whenever they need to, so read them carefully as you register!
When should I take the GRE?
As a general rule, if you’re testing in-person you’ll want to register at least three to four months ahead to secure your preferred test center, date, and time. (Six months or more is better if you’re aiming for a popular time.) If you’re testing from home, you have more flexibility—you can even take it ASAP if you need to!
When to Take the GRE for Fall Application Deadlines
|Study!||Take the GRE||Send applications|
For fall 2021 deadlines, take the test ASAP. (That’s where taking the GRE from home comes in handy!) Give yourself at least a month to prepare, and register for a test date that is at least two weeks before your programs’ deadlines.
For fall 2022 deadlines, you have a ton of flexibility—more than enough time for six months of prep, all the retakes you’re allowed, and then some! Of course, very few candidates applying in fall 2022 will be ready to start prepping right now. Think about when you’d realistically prepare.
When to Take the GRE for Spring Application Deadlines
|Study!||Take the GRE||Send applications|
For spring 2022 deadlines, aim to take the GRE towards the end of 2021. That allows you a good amount of time to prep, some flexibility with that GRE prep, and (most likely) time for at least one retake before your programs’ deadlines.
A Final Word: Other Factors to Consider When Choosing GRE Test Dates
Once you’ve taken your application deadlines into consideration, three other factors come into play:
- How does your personal life fit in with your prep and possible test date? What work, family, stress levels, and other considerations are you dealing with?
- If you need to retake the test, when could you do that and still have your scores ready in time for your application deadlines? (Remember that after your GRE test date, it takes 10-15 days for ETS to send out score reports. If you decide to retake it, you’ll need to wait 21 days to do so.)
- Have you started to prep? Are you happy with the general direction the prep is going?
As you start to prepare for your GRE exam date, here are a few resources that can support you:
Happy studying and good luck!
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