GRE at-home during COVID-19 Quarantine

Updated July 3, 2020

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

I attended. Here’s the executive summary.

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.
  • Currently, it’s only available in a limited number of countries including the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Colombia, Hong Kong, and Macau. More countries will be added soon. Check the ETS website for updates. Update: Now available in 161 countries and territories through the end of September and “as long as COVID-19 is a concern.”
  • 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).
    • You can’t use iOS/Mac. They don’t currently know when or if that may be available in the future. Update: According to ETS, “The at home tests can now also be taken on a Mac® computer if Windows® is installed and the test taker is using a Google Chrome™ or Firefox® browser. More details can be found under the “Equipment and Environment Checklist” on the test taker web pages…”
    • You must use a computer running Windows versions 10, 8, or 7.
    • 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 degree 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 notes on regular paper.
    • You can use a whiteboard with an erasable marker OR
    • Blank paper in a sheet protector with dry-erase marker.
    • All notes must be erased at the end of the test in view of proctor.
  • 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 degree 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 health-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 time
        • Extra breaks
        • Screen magnification
        • Selectable colors
      Many other accommodations can be requested through ETS Disability Services, provided that the test taker can supply the approved device, such as an IntelliKeys® keyboard or diabetic instruments.”
    • Estimate for when Macs can be used? Unknown right now.
    • 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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