Taking the GRE at home proves to be a stress-free experience
Due to the shutdown of many test centers that offer the GRE, ETS began offering a GRE General Test at Home (“At Home GRE”) option in late Spring 2020. The test is identical in content, format and on-screen experience to the GRE General Test taken at a test center. It is taken by students on their own computer at home and is monitored by a human proctor online. Students in many locations now have the choice of taking the At Home GRE or taking the GRE in a computer lab. To help learn and inform others about the experience of taking the At Home GRE, I interviewed my student Jill (name changed) after she took the at home version of the test to find out about her experience.
Taking the At Home GRE turned out to be a relatively stress-free experience for Jill apart from registration, which was a hassle. Transferring registration from in-person to online took time, and Jill also had to borrow a Windows laptop from her mother as the test cannot be administered on a Mac unless the Mac has Windows OS installed. Thankfully, the actual testing experience was mostly seamless, and ETS has solved both of these issues. The At Home GRE can now be taken on Mac and the registration process has been streamlined significantly.
ETS allows you to take the At Home GRE at any time during the day or night 7 days a week. Jill had the option of taking the test at 2 a.m. while the world slept but instead chose to take it at a more conventional time—8 a.m. Unlike the LSAT-Flex test, which is shorter than its previous in-person counterpart, the GRE At Home remains the same length.
Jill recalled that a live proctor watched her all through the test. Before the test began, the proctor asked Jill to hold up her whiteboard (a requirement for the At Home GRE – more on that below) and rotate it to ensure that there was nothing written on it. Jill was recorded throughout the test. This means that ETS will be able to monitor and prevent test-takers from recording test questions on a hidden pinhole camera. We are happy to hear they have instituted this tool to prevent cheating.
A physical whiteboard or a plastic sheet protector is required for the At Home GRE if a student needs to work out problems. The proctor must be able to see students erase their notes. Pencil and paper are not allowed. Jill had purchased the whiteboard on Amazon a couple of weeks earlier, and she took a couple of practice tests using the same whiteboard, so she was accustomed to it by the time the actual test came around. A similar whiteboard to the one used by Jill is available here.
Warming up for the Test and Taking the Break:
Just as she would have done on a regular test, Jill made sure to eat a good breakfast, did some math problems in the morning as a warmup, and practiced her breathing exercises to relax and remain calm. After the first two test sections (Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning), Jill took the optional 10 minute bathroom/snack break. When she returned, the proctor was missing, and Jill had to call out a few times before the proctor returned. None of this ended up creating a major issue.
Jill received her scores right as the test ended and achieved her highest score yet: a perfect score on the Verbal section and close to perfect on the Quantitative section. The At Home GRE test allowed her to take the test on the schedule she had planned out well before the pandemic.
Taking the At Home GRE could be a good option. If you don’t have roommates or siblings screaming in the corridors or canines scratching at your door, you might find the experience less stressful than going to a crowded center and taking it with a dozen other stressed-out test takers. More details on the At Home GRE can be found here.
On the more recently released practice tests (the ones you have to pay for) and on the in-center tests our students have taken in the past couple of years, the GRE now includes statistical concepts such as box and whisker plots, standard deviation, and probability. If you want a high score, please remember to work on those!
As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to schedule a free consultation with a Marks Education GRE tutor, including Nitin Sawhney, Ryan Blodgett, Shaun Stiemsma, Dan Bloss, and Michael Lawrence.