Besides in a test center, did you know you can take the GRE General Test from the comfort of your home? This is a safe and more convenient option for candidates who prefer to stay indoors, especially nowadays when there is a global health emergency. A number of test centers had to stop operations because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so there has been a rise in the number of test-takers who choose to take the GRE at home. This coincides well with the rise of at-home GRE study courses like Achievable GRE.

If you are planning to do the same, check out this guide we made for everything GRE-At-Home related!

How does it work?

Before anything else, you must first familiarize yourself with how the whole setup works. The content of the exam is exactly the same as the actual one – the only difference is that you will be using your own equipment and will be monitored online by a human proctor. The human proctor will check your ID for verification and an artificial intelligence (AI) technology will also be set to monitor the session for added security.

There are a number of steps that you have to follow and requirements that you have to comply with before you can take the test. To give you an overview of each step and requirement, read through this chapter.

1. Equipment and Environment Requirements

First and foremost, you must have a desktop or laptop computer; mobile phones, tablets, and other hand-held devices cannot be used. Your computer should have a camera, a microphone, and a speaker. Headsets, headphones, and earphones are not allowed for use in the examination.

Only take the exam at home by yourself as taking it outdoors and in public places is strictly forbidden. Items that are unnecessary and are not approved for use in the exam should be removed. You should also be sitting on a standard chair and your computer must be propped up on a table or flat desk.

Next, download and install the ETS Secure Test Browser on your computer. Run the file after downloading it, then close the window once the confirmation message that you’ve successfully installed the program appears on your screen. There is a version of the ETS Secure Test Browser for both Windows and Mac OS – Windows OS should be at least a 7 or higher and 10.5 or higher for Mac OS.

The next step would be to run the ProctorU Equipment Check. This program will confirm if your computer, camera, microphone, and speaker would be suitable for the test. The entire room where you’ll be taking the exam would also be assessed by the proctor as well as the top of your table. A video will also be recorded during the whole session.

2. Registration

Once you have confirmed that your equipment and exam room meet the requirements, you may now proceed to the registration part. Login to your ETS account then click on the “Register / Find Test Centers, Dates” button. When you get to the “Find Test Centers and Dates” page, select “Test at Home”. Confirm your current time zone and select the date and time of your exam. After providing these details, you may pay for the test. Once payment has been made, you will receive a confirmation email from ETS which will include a link that you will click on the day of the test to enable you to check in and begin.

Rescheduling and cancellation

Should you wish to move your exam date to a different one or cancel it completely, you may do so through your ETS account or by contacting ETS through their phone numbers. You may also reschedule from a test center to a home test, and vice-versa, also through your ETS account. You will be charged with a rescheduling fee; you can only pick a new schedule that’s within 1 year of the original date.

Cancellation has to be made at least 4 days in advance of your test date in order for you to be refunded half of what you originally paid for, as dictated by ETS’s cancellation policy.

GRE at home for people with disabilities

Candidates with disabilities and other health-related needs can most definitely take the exam at home. ETS can agree to requests for accommodation and offer special services such as refreshable Braille, recorded audio, tactile figure supplements, large print figure supplements, and other materials that can be downloaded or ordered from the ETS Disability Services.

It is important to note that request accommodations and the necessary paperwork should be sent in before your exam is scheduled. These should be submitted as early as possible so ETS can assess if your chosen materials or services would be the best fit for your needs. Review takes around 6 weeks before ETS can send a confirmation and go-signal for the test. If more documents should be provided, it may take another 6 weeks before everything can be settled.

Requests and documents may be submitted online through your ETS account, or via mail, email, and courier service.

Tips when taking the At-Home GRE

1. Be ahead of time.

Make sure to check in to the ETS browser at least 12 minutes prior to your schedule. Failure to do so means automatic cancellation of your exam.

2. Gather everything you need for checking in.

Upon logging in, the proctor will guide you through the check in process and confirm your identity by asking for your ID. Make sure that it is a valid ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.) and is not expired. Also prepare your whiteboard or transparent sheet for note-taking, markers, and a hand-held mirror for room assessment.

3. Be sure to give the proctor a good view of yourself and the room you are in.

The proctor will ask you to show them your computer setup by holding a mirror against the screen. Then, like mentioned earlier, you will use your computer camera to show a 360-degree view of your entire room, including the top of your desk. Position the camera in such a way that the proctor can clearly see you and your surroundings. Avoid looking sideways or talking out loud as these actions may seem suspicious.

4. Use a whiteboard when taking notes.

Students are allowed to use whiteboards should the need to take down notes arise. If a whiteboard is not available, you may slide a piece of paper inside a transparent plastic sleeve and then write on top of it. The proctor should be able to see when you write and erase on your whiteboard or notes sheet.

5. Pay attention to what you wear.

Dress comfortably and appropriately. Be sure to make your face and ears visible to the proctor. Avoid wearing jewelry and hair accessories such as clips, headbands, or barrettes. A photo of you will be taken before the exam starts and will be sent to schools along with your scores.

Post-test and re-testing

Just like the standard procedure, your scores will be sent to your ETS account and to institutions 10-15 days after you take the test. If you want to have another go at the test, simply follow the same steps and comply with the same requirements we’ve listed above. You can take the GRE General Test once every 21 days, 5 times within 1 year.

Taking the GRE, made easier

The good news is that ETS has made the At-Home GRE option permanent, so candidates could have a safer alternative to going to an actual test center.  But of course, candidates like you should still put in your best efforts in preparing for the GRE General Test, just like you normally would in the usual test-center setup. With the situation we are all in now, opting to take the exam at home would surely make your GRE experience more stress-free and convenient.