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Get ready for your GRE test day

Posted on October 23, 2020
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In this article, we will answer everything you need to know about the day of the GRE test in this guide. We’ll explain what you need to have ready before the day of the examination, what you should do before leaving for the examination, how to check in at the test center, and last-minute GRE tips to keep in mind during the exam. You will stop thinking about test day and concentrate all your attention on doing well on the GRE when you know what to expect on the exam and the GRE test day tips you need to follow.

Get to know the location of the test center

You absolutely need to know exactly where your test center is and how you’re going to get there before test day. Even if it is in a region you know well, don’t depend on a vague understanding of where the test center is. Most test centers are in nondescript office buildings with little signs to distinguish them. You want to make sure you know the exact location.

Get to know the date and time of the exam

You may assume that you already know when your test is, but do a favor and double check the date and time for yourself. It’s easy to do, and a sticky scenario can be avoided. Make sure you know the correct date you are going to take the GRE, as well as when you are supposed to arrive at the test center. In your confirmation email, you will find this detail. Give yourself at least a 15-minute cushion to account for traffic and other unpredictable activities when determining when you should depart for the test center.

Know the ID requirements

The main criteria are that the ID needs to:

  • Be an original document (not a photocopy)
  • Be valid and not beyond the date of expiration
  • Have your full name when you registered for the exam exactly as you entered it
  • Include a recent photograph
  • Include your signature

Driver’s licenses, passports, and national IDs are widely recognized forms of ID. There may also be additional ID criteria depending on which country you are taking the GRE in.

What to bring and not to bring to the test center

You will have to bring your ID with you. If you are taking the paper-based GRE, you will need to bring a printed copy of your confirmation email (which you will obtain after you have registered for a test) that will act as your admission pass.

You don’t need to think about taking many items to the GRE. Do not take pencils and scratch paper (at the test center you will be equipped with these) as well as a calculator (there will be one for computer-based exams on the computer for the Quantitative Reasoning portion and you will be given one for paper-based exams).

What to do on the test day

There will be a person there to check you in when you arrive at the test center (about 30 minutes before your GRE is scheduled to begin). You may need to display your ID, and you will need to check your ID as well. You would also need to reveal it at this time if you have a confirmation email / voucher.

Next, you’ll need to compose and sign a pledge of confidentiality specifying that you’re not going to tell anyone the questions you were asked during the test. Now is a good time to ask any questions you may have from the proctor.

The proctor would then give you scratch paper and pencils in the testing room and allocate you to a computer. Other students who are also taking an exam, which could be the GRE or another examination, will possibly already be there. Everyone’s going to be at a different point in the exam; you’re not going to all take it together.

From start to finish, the GRE lasts about 3 hours and 45 minutes. Analytical Writing will always be the first section, where you will write two essays (30 minutes are given for each). Five sections of Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning (including one unscored experimental section, but you won’t know which section this is) will follow this.

You will get a ten-minute break after you complete your third segment (so about halfway through the examination). This is when you will get a break to use the toilet, and eat your snack. When you leave the room and sign back in when you reenter, you’ll need to sign out on a form the proctor gives you.

You’ll automatically be able to see your unofficial Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores after you’ve completed the test. This score is likely to be the same as the official score you get some weeks later. You then get to determine after seeing your scores whether you want those scores sent to the schools you indicated earlier.

It will help you to feel more prepared and secure going into the exam by knowing what to expect on GRE test day. Before the test day, the morning of the test day, and after arriving at the test center, there are some steps you can take, as well as last-minute GRE tips that are beneficial when you are taking the test.

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