21. The Day of the Test

The Day of the Test

Breakfast: Make sure to have one that is both filling and healthy. (e.g. egg whites on toast, an egg, or nuts if you are not allergic)

Timing: You need to arrive at the test center 30 minutes before the start of the test

What to Bring

Clothes (Yes! Very important): Make sure to wear layers that will allow you to think and work in whatever temperature your find yourself in at the test center.

Valid Identification--
  • Passport
  • Driver's License (but not an "International Driver's License," according to ETS)
  • State ID

The document needs to --
  • be issued by a state or national government (a student ID will not work)
  • include the exact name that is on the GRE Admission ticket
  • be valid
  • include a picture (even if it is not one of your best)
  • include a signature
  • The names of 4 institutions or fellowship programs you are applying to. ETS will send your scores to these programs for free, but any scores that you order after this point will cost you $$$.

What Not to Bring
  • Your Entourage -- no visitors are allowed
  • Electronic Devices (including cell phones and calculators)
  • A Watch -- you'll be asked to remove it
  • Snacks, drinks, or any tobacco products -- You can put some in your small storage area outside of the test room and then access them during the ten-minute break. 

Additional Notes for Paper-Based Test-Takers

A pack of sharpened number 2 pencils with decent erasers (neither scathed nor beheaded). Make sure to bring at least 5 of them since there will not be extra pencils on hand.

What Will Happen When You Arrive?

Your ID will be checked, and the test center may then take a picture of you or do fingerprinting in case an institution needs more proof that you took the test. If you decide not to participate, you will not be able to take the test and you will not get a refund. So, it's best to say "GREs" to force a smile...or let your thumb be inked.

You will also be provided with a small storage space for personal belongings that are not allowed in the testing room (snacks, water, your bag, etc.). Any scarf, hat, or coat that you bring into the testing room can also be searched or scanned by security. Note that you cannot put your cellphone in this storage space. They are not even allowed in the test center.

What Will You Be Given in Return?


Computer-based test takers will use a calculator on screen, while paper-based test-takers will be issued an ETS calculator. Don't worry -- it does not scale your answers.

Scratch Paper

You will be given a few pieces at the beginning of the test and can raise your hand for more during the test if you need it. You cannot use your own paper because you could easily sneak notes onto it. Whether it's blank or not, the administrators would need to take it away and invalidate your score.

+ Do not write down your idea for the next best-selling novel on this scratch paper since you will have to give it up at the end of the test.