Exam Prep

Taking the Exam

When the testing date arrives, GRE-takers should feel prepared and confident in their ability to perform well on the exam. Unless prearranged with ETS, all GRE tests are held on Sundays and begin at predetermined times (commonly 9 or 10 a.m., but this will vary). Before the exam begins, computer-adaptive test-takers designate the colleges or universities that will receive their official GRE score report ― but this decision is not finalized until the test is finished (see below).

The ETS urges test-takers to arrive at least 30 minutes early, and warns that those who arrive late may not be able to take the exam, thus forfeiting their GRE fee. Additionally, exam-takers should be aware of the following policies and guidelines for GRE tests:

For all GRE test-takers

  • The testing center verifies the identification of all exam-takers using “fingerprinting, thumbprinting, photographing, videotaping or some other form of electronic ID biometric confirmation.” Individuals who refuse this verification are not allowed to take the exam.
  • Prohibited items include: food and drink; tobacco products; electronic devices like smartphones, tablet devices, e-readers, PDAs, and digital watches; personal items other than identification; calculators and scratch paper (provided); or hats, scarves, coats, and other “outerwear” clothing items.
  • No one is allowed to accompany exam-takers into the testing room, nor are friends or relatives allowed to wait in the testing center or contact exam-takers until the test has finished.
  • Exam-takers are not allowed to leave the building during breaks; bathroom access will be provided.

Additionally, certain policies are in place specifically for computer-adaptive and paper-based GRE-takers:

For computer-adaptive tests

  • All exam-takers must sign a confidentiality agreement in order to begin their exam.
  • Some testing locations may use electronic detection security devices to ensure test-takers are following the rules; ETS reserves the right to do this at any time.
  • Test-takers who experience technical difficulties should raise their hand and await assistance from the exam administrator.

For paper-based tests

  • Exam-takers should bring at least three or four sharpened pencils and an eraser; these materials are not be provided at the testing center.
  • Aside from the admission ticket, individuals are not allowed to bring any other paper-based items into the testing room.
  • At the conclusion of the exam, all test-takers are instructed to hand in their test booklet to the administrator.

Those who violate any of these policies may be disqualified from the exam and forced to leave; for serious violations, ETS reserves the right to contact law enforcement authorities.