As a result of the global response to COVID-19, some Prometric testing centers for the GRE® General Test temporarily closed their doors, forcing many students to cancel or reschedule their testing date. To accommodate these students, ETS introduced an online GRE that could be taken at home. While many centers have reopened, some locations remain closed or have limited space and availability, and some students may still have health concerns about taking a test in person. In response, the at-home GRE is now a permanent option.
Eligible students can download the ETS Test Browser on their computer. The test will be taken in this browser, which replicates the on-screen experience at testing centers. Once the browser is set up, students can register with ProctorU, a service that will provide live proctoring for the exam.
The online GRE is identical to the standard GRE in format, content, scoring, and on-screen experience. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To get full details and updates on this situation, be sure to consult the official GRE website. For now, let’s address some of the more significant questions.
Who is eligible to take the at-home GRE?
The at-home option is available for students in every country where the GRE General Test is offered, with the exception of Mainland China and Iran. It’s also important to note that this only applies to those taking the GRE General Test. GRE Subject Tests are not yet eligible.
At-Home GRE Accommodations
Students who are approved can still receive accommodations when taking the GRE at home. Among the accommodations offered are extended time, extended breaks, screen magnification, and selectable colors. You can request accommodations in your ETS account or by contacting ETS Disability Services.
RESCHEDULING YOUR GRE
Any student with an in-person test center appointment is eligible to reschedule to the at-home option, and vice versa. The current fee for rescheduling your exam, either to a different date or location, is $50. You should contact GRE Services at ETS if you would want to switch your GRE test date or GRE testing location.
What will I need at home to take the GRE?
Students need to meet certain equipment requirements and create an acceptable testing environment.
- PC or Mac desktop or laptop computer. PCs must have Windows 7, 8, or 10. Mac computers must have Mac OS X 10.5 or higher. Tablets and mobile phones cannot be used.
- Internal or external microphone and speakers. These are used to communicate with the proctor. No headsets or earphones are allowed.
- Built-in camera or external webcam. The camera must be able to show the proctor a 360-degree of the room.
- Private space. No other people may be in the room. And no public spaces (e.g., coffeeshops).
- Proper seating and clear workspace. You must be seated in a chair at a desk or table that is clear of all unapproved items, including food and drink.
- Erasable writing surface. Whiteboards and transparent sheet protectors are good. You may not use regular paper. The proctor will watch to make sure all notes are erased at the end of the test.
- Appropriate clothing. Your ears must be visible throughout the test. Your photo will be taken and provided to schools with your test results.
Should I take the at-home GRE?
If there is a testing center available near you, then the choice is most likely one of personal preference. ETS and ProctorU are going to great lengths to ensure that, should you take the test at home, your Test Day experience will be as close to the one you would experience at any testing center. If all centers near you are still closed, it might be worth taking the at-home option. Waiting too long for a center to reopen can be stressful and can disrupt your study habits.
Nonetheless, some people may have legitimate reasons to choose or wait for an in-person option. For instance, some people may have difficulty finding a quiet space without interruption from other people (e.g., children, roommates). In this and other similar situations, especially for those without a strict deadline to complete the exam, it may be worth waiting for a center near you to reopen or looking for options that require a little extra travel time.
How to prep for the at-home GRE
For the most part, studying for the GRE at home should be no different than usual. It is still a computerized test, and the format of the test is identical to the test center version.
Expect to spend the same amount of time as usual to prepare for the GRE (many students will spend an average of 100 hours over 3 months). However, as you will not be given supplies as you would at a test center, you will want to make sure you have everything you need to take the exam on your scheduled date. That means making sure that you have a whiteboard or transparent sheets, as well as a couple of fresh markers.
And be sure to practice using those materials so that you know what to expect when you take the official exam.