How to Test-Drive the Computerized Version of the GRE

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

You can choose to take the GRE exam on a computer. If you do this, you shouldn’t wait till test day to learn how the software works. Nor do you want to risk making a mistake that kills your score — such as getting stuck on a question because you forgot that you can go back to it.

To gain some experience with the computerized GRE, take it for a test drive using the free Powerprep II software that ETS offers for both Macs and PCs. The software features two actual GRE computer-based practice tests for you to become accustomed to the format of the computer-based test.

To download and install the most recent version of the software, go to www.ets.org/gre, click Prepare for the Test, click POWERPREP Software, and carefully follow the on-screen directions.

When you run the software, it displays the Introduction to the Computer-based GRE revised General Test page in your default web browser. This opening page contains several tabs for accessing an overview of the test; guidance on preparing for the test; details about the Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the test; and details about test scores.

Follow these steps to start the test:

  1. Scroll down to the section “Practicing for the Test,” and click the Start Practicing Now button.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the resulting page and click Continue.

    This launches the practice test, which gives you access to a test preview tool and a timed and untimed practice test.

  3. Choose the desired practice test option and click Start Test.

    The test appears just as it will on test day, with a title page and introduction.

  4. Keep clicking Continue in the upper-right corner of the screen until you reach the General Test Information.

  5. Read the information and click Continue to proceed.

    You can use the buttons in the upper-right corner of the screen to navigate the test. Most of the buttons are self-explanatory, but these deserve special attention:

    • Mark. Mark enables you to flag the question for review. The Review screen shows marked questions with a check mark next to them so you can easily pick them out from the rest of the questions in the list.

    • Review. Review displays a list of questions you can return to. Click the question you want to go back to and then click the Go To Question button. You can then review the question and change your answer if desired.

    • Exit Section. This button ends the section and saves your essay or answers so you can proceed to the next section. After you click this button, you can’t go back to change answers or return to unanswered questions in the section.

    • Quit Test. This button ends the test prematurely, canceling your scores. You usually want to avoid this button, especially during the actual test — unless, of course, you really want to stop and cancel your scores.