GRE at-home during COVID-19 Quarantine

Updated November 12, 2020

In March of 2020, Educational Testing Services (ETS), the company that makes the GRE, offered a live webinar to grad schools to help answer their questions about how the GRE will be administered at-home for test takers during the Corona virus shut downs.

I attended. Here’s the executive summary PLUS recent updates I’ve received via or through things test-takers have shared with me.

ETS Webcast on At-Home GRE Testing

  • The at-home version is identical to the regular GRE computer-based test that you would take at a testing center. That includes price, content, and format.
  • Human proctors monitor your webcam in real time, supplemented with AI.
    • Your entire test will be videotaped.
    • Facial recognition software will be used to match your gorgeous mug with your ID throughout the test.
    • ETS is using a company called ProctorU to handle the at-home GRE proctoring. ProctorU has handled over 5 million test takers for various organizations and universities.
  • The at-home GRE is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, “with appointments available as early as 24 hours after you register.”
  • Update: The at-home GRE is available everywhere the test is normally available except mainland China and Iran. It’s available even in places where test takers are also able to go to a testing center, for those concerned with COVID.
  • Your GRE scores will be available to schools 10 to 15 days after the test.
  • Grad schools can see your GRE Written Analytical essay responses and a photo of you taken at the start of the test.
  • Computer details
    • You may only use a desktop or laptop computer for the at-home GRE (not tablets or phones).
    • Update: According to ETS, the test can be run on, “PC: Windows® operating system, versions 10, 8 or 7. MAC®: Mac OS X® 10.5 or higher (10.13 High Sierra is recommended).” More details can be found under the “Equipment and Environment Checklist” on the test taker web pages…”
    • Your computer microphone must be internal or external, NOT part of headset.
    • You’ll also have to use the computer’s internal speaker (no headsets).
    • The computer’s webcam must be able to show the GRE proctor a 360 view of the room. That webcam can be built in to the computer or separate.
  • You must be alone in the testing room with no other people entering. So no public spaces.
  • The computer and keyboard must be on a desk or table which is clear of all items not approved for the GRE.
  • You must be sitting in a proper chair (no bed/couch/comfy overstuffed chair/etc.)
  • No food or drinks during the GRE administration, although water in a clear plastic bottle is okay.
  • Your ears must remain visible, so they can make sure you don’t have any listening devices. They cannot be covered by your hair, a hat, etc.
  • Dress appropriately (grad schools will see your picture).
  • Accessories such as hair clips, sunglasses, watches, and jewelry, are not permitted.
  • They won’t allow you to take on regular paper.
    • You can use a whiteboard with an erasable marker OR
    • Blank paper in a sheet protector with dry-erase marker.
    • All must be erased at the end of the test in view of proctor.
    • My Note: Get the biggest dry-erase board you can–say 2 ft. x 2 ft.–and a fine-tip dry erase marker. That’s much better for tracking your answer choices and doing scratch work with plenty of room to spare.
  • Before the test, your acceptable form of student ID will be photographed. This ID is checked multiple times during the test using AI to make sure it’s still you taking the test.
  • You must show the proctor the room/testing space (360 inspection via webcam) before the GRE testing begins.
  • The proctor can cancel your test immediately if you open another browser window, use a cell phone, use other software, etc., so turn off all apps that might give you popups during the test.
  • My report that proctors often won’t let you read out loud to yourself during the test.
  • ETS is waiving the GRE rescheduling fee for those test-takers whose physical tests were cancelled or who cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.
    • IDEA: Check to see if your grad school is offering extensions because of COVID-19, and consider postponing your GRE. Some test takers might prefer the testing center.
  • Other Q&A’s
    • How long will the remote proctoring be offered? Until things return to normal. Update: This is currently through the end of December 2020. It will be offered from now on. Find out more by clicking here.
    • Are accommodations available for people with disabilities? Not at this time. In near future may have extended test time, extra breaks, etc. Update: According to ETS, “ETS is committed to serving test takers with disabilities and -related needs by providing services and reasonable accommodations that are appropriate given the purpose of the test. These accommodations can be requested in the test taker’s ETS account:
      • Extended
      • Extra
      • Screen magnification
      • Selectable colors”
    • Can you get up during the 10 minute break? Yes

Find out about my live-streamed online GRE Prep classes as well as one-on-one tutoring (all via Zoom). Up-to-date, quick, easy GRE prep.


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