What to Bring and Leave at Home on GRE Test Day

Part of the GRE For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The GRE proctors are very strict about what items you can (and can’t) take into the testing center. Make sure you come prepared on test day by bringing ALL these things:

  • ETS authorization voucher: Testing centers make mistakes: I’ve seen it happen. Bring your verification that you’re signed up for the test on this day, at this location.

  • Comfortable clothes: Testing centers tend to crank the A/C. The last thing you want is to be distracted by shivering through the math. Wear two layers of long-sleeve clothing, and you can always remove one if you’re warm.

  • Map or directions to the testing center: The GRE is intense enough; let the drive there be easy, especially if your test is in the morning, putting your drive in the midst of rush-hour traffic. You may also want to scope out the area ahead of time and figure out where you’re going to park.

  • Photo ID: The GRE testing centers sport some tight security. You may not be allowed to take the test unless you can verify who you are.

  • Water and a snack: Your break is 10 minutes, some of which will be spent checking back in when you return from the restroom. You’re not going to have time to go grab something. Bring some water and a snack to store in your locker or access area, so you can use your precious few minutes getting refreshed. Some testing centers give you access to your locker during your break, and some don’t. But the proctors will always tell you where you can leave your food and water.

The following items are what not to bring to the testing center. Your bringing them isn’t the issue — your counting on their use is. You can bring what you want, but you’ll be asked to leave everything in your locker before taking the GRE.

  • Books and study notes: The GRE isn’t an open-book test, so why bring your books? Leave them in your car or at home. One of my students almost had his scores cancelled because he took a text book out of his locker during his break. Fortunately, he didn’t open the book, so he was allowed to keep his scores, which was good, because he had scored well.

  • Calculator: If your cellphone has a built-in calculator, which most do, then you can’t avoid bringing one with you unless you leave your cellphone behind. Regardless, your cellphone will remain with your wallet and other stuff in the locker while you’re taking the GRE. If you bring a separate calculator, it too will be in the locker. The GRE provides a computerized calculator for the Quantitative Reasoning sections, so you don’t need to bring one anyway.

  • Your own scratch paper: The proctors will take away anything you bring and provide their own scratch paper for you to use.

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