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Sick on GRE Test Day? When—and How—to Reschedule

July 12, 2017
Elisa Davis

What if you get sick on GRE Test Day?

Rescheduling may not be your best option if you wake up under the weather.

Just because you’re taking the GRE (and fitting GRE test prep into your schedule) doesn’t mean that the unexpected can’t and won’t come up—and the test maker, ETS (Educational Testing Service), knows this.

So even after you’ve already scheduled your GRE test date, you still have the option to change it for a fee, as long as you do so no later than four days (ten days if you’re in mainland China) before your scheduled date.

What if I get sick on GRE Test Day?

There may be instances in which it’s too late to reschedule the GRE. For example, what if you get sick on GRE Test Day itself? One of our GRE Prep Plus students faced this issue recently and emailed us the following question:

“I never get sick, but this morning I woke up with a stomach bug. I have my GRE test this Friday morning! If I’m still in a lot of pain tomorrow I’m thinking I should reschedule my test. Wouldn’t losing my money and having to pay again be better than getting a zero? The institution I’m applying to requires that they receive all of my scores.”

We did a bit of research and encouraged her to get information about skipping her test date and to call ETS at 1-609-771-7670 or 1-866-473-4373 to get exact rules for her situation.

What she learned from her phone call to ETS is encouraging. Here’s her follow-up email:

“I feel better today, but I called ETS since I still have symptoms. They said I have a few options for rescheduling the exam:

  • I could fax a cover letter along with a doctor’s letter, and they would investigate and advise me in 3–5 days whether they would give me a voucher to retake the test.
  • If I start the test tomorrow but am unable to complete it, I will have to wait 21 days before retaking the exam.
  • If I don’t show for the test tomorrow, that would be better than starting and not completing the exam. A no-show is NOT scored, so grad schools would never know a student no-showed for the GRE.”

Prometric (the company that administers the GRE) only sends information on tests that were scored, so no-show test dates would never be on a student’s score report. Only Prometric, the student, and his/her wallet would know about the no-show. Also, if a person no-shows, he/she can re-pay the testing fee and take the test at any time. The student wouldn’t have to wait 21 days, since the exam was never started.

Reschedule or skip?

So the answer seems to be: If you have a test scheduled and don’t feel well enough to take it when your GRE Test Day rolls around, don’t. Simply don’t show up.

You will forfeit your fee, but you can schedule a new GRE test date as soon as you feel better. If you can secure and submit a doctor’s note within the allowed time frame, you may even be able to retake the test without losing the fee. Either way, you won’t have to wait the usual 21 days for your next GRE test date.

If you’re feeling pretty wobbly, you certainly can take the chance that you’ll perform well by taking the test anyway. On the other hand, if your illness impacts your performance and you fall short of your score goal, you will still have to wait those three weeks to take the test again, and of course you’ll definitely have to pay the fee again, as well.

Find out how you’d perform on Test Day by participating in the Official GRE Test Day Experience.



Elisa Davis A former business professional with a BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an MS (Accounting) from NYU, Elisa Davis has held positions in accounting, budgeting and strategic planning in a variety of large corporations. While in college, she worked in the Verbal department of a certain Large Famous Testmaker, contributing to the writing and development of a variety of tests. Elisa scored a 1550 on the GRE (780M, 770V) (99th percentile) and in the 99th percentile on the GMAT. In addition to her active Kaplan Advantage Anywhere teaching schedule, she teaches and tutors GRE and GMAT and trains instructors in the Westchester County, NY area, where she was named Teacher of the Year for 2007. When Elisa isn't turning her students into shining GRE and GMAT stars, she enjoys going to music clubs on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and, in her hometown, hosting house concerts starring singer-songwriters.


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