Well, it’s my senior year, and I must admit, it’s not going quiteee like I had imagined.
Nonetheless, my final year in undergraduate means that it is time for me to tackle the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, this fall. However, due to COVID-19 procedures and precautions, the GRE is now being offered and widely administered virtually so that students can take the exam without going to a testing center.
Having the option to take the GRE at your place of residence is great, but it does propose some unique challenges (and possible benefits as well!) to test prep and test taking. With my various circumstances in mind, I’ve tweaked my preparations for the GRE in order to be as prepared and as comfortable as possible for taking the GRE at home.
One of the possible benefits I see of being able to take the GRE at home is being in a more familiar and comfortable setting. While there are still rules and regulations to taking the test at home—such as the type of computer you must have, having a clear background, a live proctor, etc.—students get to choose the location where they will take the test and have a lot more control of their surroundings. I think that having this tiny bit of freedom might help a lot of students who have testing anxiety.
One way I’ve begun prepping to take the exam at home is by thinking early on about when and where in my apartment I plan to take the exam. I think it’s important to think about your comfort during this process. Planning how I’m going to set up my test-taking environment has really helped me feel more relaxed and ready to take the exam. Just be sure to let any housemates/roommates you live with know when you’re taking the exam so they know not to be too loud!
As far as prepping for the test itself, I found that changing how I practice for the exam wasn’t necessary. The test administrated virtually is the exact same exam they administer in-person, so there really was no need for me to do any special test-prep courses or buy any new books.
My biggest advice for preparing to take the GRE at home is to calm your nerves! Don’t allow yourself to get too worked up over your score or doing well enough. While preparing for the content of the exam is important, it is just as important to prep your mind as well, and this includes encouraging and motivating yourself. Keeping your mind positive and confident about the exam will definitely positively impact how you do on the exam and how you feel taking it.
Good luck and happy testing!