I have recently completed my GRE Exam on the 13th of April. As you might all know, ETS has recently given us the option of attempting the exam online for most of the countries except Mainland China and Iran. But for people in India, this means we could virtually attend the exam at our convenience. I had originally scheduled my exam for 24th of March (on-site exam). On 22nd March the test center sends me a mail regarding the GRE exam being postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, at a later day after April 17th. My friend and I have decided to contact ETS for some guidance regarding this snafu. After talking to customer care, we had them reschedule our exam for 17th April at the same test center. After a week or so, on 2nd April, we visited the ETS portal to take a practice test. We saw the alert that At-Home GRE was finally available in India and we decided to reschedule it for an earlier date than 17th April. We had talked to the customer care again to reschedule the test at home. They redirected us to ProctorU with our login details sent to our registered mail ID where we had to select the date and time of the exam. We have to register for the exam within 24-hours of receiving the email. Be aware of your inbox.
People registering anew should directly select the at-home option while registration, whereas people who are rescheduling the exam to an at-home mode, will find the option on your test details or you could contact the ETS customer care.
Despite all the problems I had faced, the at-home test-taking process was easier than it would have been at the center. I say this because we are at our home with our Laptop/PC with our keyboard which we are accustomed to, which helps us in writing the AWA faster. I would prefer the at-home GRE option over the test-center examination any day. The important thing to remember is to write your exam as soon as possible, as my instructors have told me countless times, not more than 6-7 weeks of practice period after the classes had ended because we would lose the momentum of study and our mind just loves excuses for not doing things.
Before the Exam
The ETS website is where you would find the steps to register and take at-home GRE test. You would need a Windows laptop with Windows version 7 or higher (sorry people with MacOS). The general GRE rules are applicable. You cannot move from your seat during the exam except while taking the 10-minute break, which would be after the first 3 sections. Have your ID proof (Passport) ready before you start your exam. The exam would start 3 minutes before the actual exam time which allows the proctor to connect to your PC and perform the checks needed.
Before you start the exam, you need to download the Software required for the exam. The “ETS Online Test Browser” available here and a pre environment check provided by “ProctorU system check” available here. The environment check would ask for your camera and microphone access along with Adobe flash player access. If you don’t have the above, better acquire them. You should have Chrome (or Chromium based browser, I had the latest Microsoft Edge Browser) installed in your PC. Firefox and other browsers are not supported. A stable internet connection with at least 5 Mbps is ideal for attempting the exam. My friend had a problem with his internet, so he will be retaking the test again. In the case of power outage, you have a buffer period of 30 minutes. This allows you to reconnect to the exam under 30 minutes. Else you would have to contact ProctorU help service and ETS to reschedule your exam.
The software mentioned above should be downloaded at least a day ahead of your exam to ensure that you would have ample time to contact the ProctorU in case of any technical problem. Your camera needs to be movable (if external), else you have to move your laptop around to show them the room along with under your desk and chair. You will be required to also show your ID proof before the exam starts and at the end of the 10-minute break. There will be a proctor (person) on the other side of the screen monitoring you and your PC screen throughout the exam. They ask you to give them remote access to your mouse and PC during the entire process. It is daunting to have someone watching you throughout the exam, but it something we have to bear through. You are not allowed to read out the questions, passages or answers during the exam. You would be warned once. If you do it again, they will cancel the exam at that moment. They will ask you to take a photo before the exam starts with your face from forehead to chin. Your face should always be visible during the exam.
They will guide you through chat which will be asked to download right before you start the exam. It is wise to read the details they send and follow through accordingly. They will ask you to show the PC screen using a mirror or the front-facing camera in your phone/tablet to check if your screen has anything stuck on. There should be no tab-switching during the exam. The proctors (person) might change during the examination, there is no need to be alarmed, this will not affect your exam process. The whole exam would be recorded for future references. Better to wear clothing that would not cover your ears and hair in any way. No jewelry or accessories of any kind (including rings and bracelets). They will ask you to show the ears to check for headphones or earphones, both of which are prohibited.
For your rough work, you would either be needed to have a white board or transparent paper with erasable marker (the kind used in projectors).
If you don’t have either, better buy them at your local stationery. I had a class-sized white board in my home so I had no problem. In case you don’t have either and are not able to procure them, you should contact ProctorU and ETS for rough work material. You would be asked to show them the white board before exam to ensure nothing is written on it and at the end of exam to ensure the white board is clean.
During the Exam
After the pre checks are completed, they will login in the ETS browser for you and will allow you to start the exam. Again, you are not allowed to move from your seat at any time during the exam even in 1-minute breaks in between the sections. You will only be able to move during the 10-minute break, during which you can move around the room and go to washroom and have a snack or drink water. You would be asked to do the room-check and ear check again before the break ends. They would also ask you to show your glasses (if any) and photo ID for proof. They will end the break when you ask them to. Yes, they can hear you during the entire exam too. Once you have completed the exam, you can report the scores (or not) and end the exam by contacting your proctor, after which you will be asked to give a review on their website. If you want, you can ask them to take a screenshot of your marks right before the exam ends, only if they permit it.
If you think about it, it’s actually not that daunting to take the exam at home.