How to give GRE test at home in this COVID-19 pandemic

The GRE course stands for Graduate Record Examinations, and it’s the online test that prospective graduate students as well as some prospective law students and business school students need to take. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, test centers have been closed. So ETS, the company that creates the GRE, is offering a remote option as of March 27th. Same test with different settings. This is a welcome development for many graduate school applicants but it also brings challenges of its own. 


GRE test at home in this COVID-19 pandemic

For starters, you’ll need to ensure you have the right test setup. And this is especially important because when you register for the GRE, ETS does not offer a check that you meet the application requirements for testing at home, so it’ll be up to you to know and meet those requirements before you register. What are those requirements? Well: You must be able to use a laptop or desktop computer. No tablets or phones are allowed. Your computer must be a PC with Windows version 7, 8, or 10. No Mac computers are allowed. If you don’t have a PC with a Windows operating, you shouldn’t register for the GRE at-home test. You’ll also need to have a speaker, microphone, and camera. You’ll need to be able to move the camera (or move your laptop with its built-in camera) to show the remote proctor the area around your computer. 


Beyond those technical requirements, you'll also have to meet other general requirements: You’ll need to be alone in a well-lit room with no interruptions. You won’t be allowed to take the test in a public place, or in a space at home where a family member or roommate could walk in. It is very necessary to take the test in a closed door room so that other family members can not create any disturbance at the time of exam. You’ll need to take the test using a desk or table as well as a regular kitchen or office chair. You will not be allowed to sit on a couch, stuffed armchair, bed, or the floor. (You wouldn’t be allowed to have water on your desk during an onsite GRE, and you’re not allowed to have it there at home either.) 


You will definitely want to dress appropriately. Your picture will be forwarded to other institutions you send your scores. Also keep in mind that your ears must be visible the entire time, and you’re advised to avoid wearing any jewelry or other accessories. Paper is not allowed to do scratch work. Instead, you’ll need to use a small white board or plastic transparent sheet   (the ones that are often used in binders). You’ll need at least one functioning dry erase marker as well as some sort of eraser. You are allowed to use a tissue as your eraser.


Now, once your setup is set up, you’ll need to register. You’ll need to create an ETS account, and then select the option to test at home. The test fee is the same as for an in-person test. After you’ve registered and paid, wait until you receive an email from ProctorU, which will allow you to choose your date and time. This can take thirty  or more minutes to land in your inbox. Don’t try to create an account on ProctorU until you get that email, though. If you require accommodations, unfortunately GRE is not providing those for the at-home test right now. If you have already submitted your paperwork and qualified for accommodations, we advise that you call GRE to get the most up-to-date information about the availability of accommodations for the at-home test. 


When your test date and time arrives, you’ll see the option to start the session. So, no need to arrive “early”! on test day But do ensure in advance that your workspace is clear, and that you have your white board, markers, eraser, and ID ready to go. You have to show your mobile to the proctor as part of the check-in process. Note that it is OK if you have shelves above your desk with items on them but your desk does need to be clear. You’ll also need to close all other programs on your computer and turn off any notifications. Be sure you’re using Chrome when you go to the ProctorU website. 


Now, at your scheduled time, the check-in process will begin. It should take about 10 minutes. Then, you must allow your session to be recorded, and the software takes your photo, as I mentioned earlier. Next, you are matched with a proctor, which you are told about in a chat window. You won’t see or hear the proctor, but the proctor will be able to see and hear you throughout the entire test. The proctor will let you know in the chat box what you need to do. You’ll use your camera to show the area around your desk and the space around the room, and you’ll hold up your white board (front and back) and any other items you are using for the test. 


Then the proctor will ask to see your cell phone, and to show that it is off and that you are putting it somewhere you can’t reach it. Now your computer screen is under the control of the proctor, you have to download the ETS software, and a code is required to enter to log you in to your exam session. Then, the proctor will relinquish control and let you know through the chat that you’re ready to start the test. Now, the test you’ll be taking is the same in content and format as the in-person test, just on your home computer. If you need help, ask your remote proctor in the chat box (rather than raising your hand). 


Keep in mind that you may not leave the room except during the 10-minute break. After completing the text, you will return back to the chat box on your computer screen. The proctor will give you instructions for finishing up. Then, you’re done! Be sure to close out of all windows to ensure that you don’t continue to be recorded. Overall, this is very faithful to the typical GRE test-taking experience. 


One of the questions we’ve heard from students is whether programs will know that you took your GRE general test at home (and not in a test center). You may be worried that it won’t “count” the same. But do not fear! Your score report does not show any indication that you took the test at home. Now of course, schools will see a photo of you taken during check-in, so they’ll likely be able to infer that you took the test at home. 


Because the test is identical and GRE has test security measures in place, we don’t anticipate at-home testing will have any effect on admissions decisions.

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