Taking the GRE: At Home vs. Test Center

As the test-makers intended, your plans for the GRE need not be altered by the pandemic. The GRE General Test At Home is a viable alternative to taking the test at a designated test center. As numerous test centers around the US and the world have continued to close periodically, this at-home offering of the GRE General Test helps to eliminate any interruptions of your grad school admissions plans.

Now that the GRE At Home has become a permanent option, students applying to grad schools, including law schools and business schools, have a choice: should I take the test in the comfort of my home or apartment, or am I better off going to a traditional test center? In this post, we will consider some of the pros and cons of both options. The bottom line, however, is that we should consider it a supreme bonus to have the ability to do either—or both!

GRE General Test At Home vs. at a Test Center: How Do They Compare?

  • GRE At Home is now available on a permanent basis.
  • GRE At Home is offered everywhere that the GRE General Test is available throughout the world.
  • GRE At Home is identical to the computerized Test Center version of the GRE in content, test format, and test length.
    • Thus, your preparation for the At Home version is no different!
  • GRE At Home offers the same accommodations as the Test Center version of the test, including extended time, extended breaks, and screen magnification, among others.
  • GRE At Home offers the same limitations on test frequency—you can take the GRE General test once every 21 days, up to five times within any twelve-month period. This includes situations in which you have canceled your scores on a test taken previously.

GRE At Home: Some Advantages

  • GRE At Home is offered 7 days a week, any time of day, and you can secure a test date as little as 24 hours after you register.
    • Thus, it is much easier to procure a test date (especially on short notice) than it is to book a test center (whose availability is more limited, particularly during the pandemic).
      • Students who have strict or unexpected deadlines need not worry about finding a test date.
  • GRE At Home allows students use their own computers (Mac or PC) and the test is monitored online by a human proctor.
    • Thus, you’ll have the comfort and familiarity of your own equipment.
  • GRE At Home offers safety and security amid the COVID-induced anxieties about social distancing and indoor activities.
    • Plus you don’t have to wear a mask while taking the test!
  • Get all the details of the GRE At Home at the ETS’s website.

GRE at a Test Center: Some Advantages

  • Test Center offers a neutral testing space free of interruptions from fellow home occupants.
    • Thus, you don’t have to worry about your roommate bursting into the room, risking your disqualification!
  • Test Center offers an in-person proctor.
    • Thus, you can avoid the creepiness of knowing there is a nebulous person out there in the ether, monitoring (and recording) your test session.
  • Test Center allows you to use regular scratch paper for your notes and calculations.
    • Thus, you don’t have to deal with a white board or acetate sheet as is required in the At Home version.
  • For complete details on the test center registration process, see the official GRE site.

GRE At Home vs. Test Center: Why Not Both?

With the advantages of either option, you may also consider trying both venues. As most students will sit for the test more than once, you can see which version is better suited to your needs. We would recommend registering for the At Home version for your first sitting, as it is much easier to procure a day/time of your choice. Then, depending on your experience, you can make a more informed decision for any sittings beyond that.

Get GRE Help from the Pros

Whether you’re taking the GRE at home, at a test center, or both, we can help! Learn more about how our GRE test experts can help you master the GRE.