GRE Snacks 14 – GRE Prometric Test Center experience

Tyler York
GRE Snacks

While GRE At Home is here to stay, there’s a good chance that you’ll be taking the GRE in a Prometric Test Center like old times. In this podcast, Orion outlines what it’s like to take the GRE in one of these in-person test centers, including what to look out for, how to manage your anxiety, and how to come prepared to rock the test.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, check out Achievable’s GRE course that was authored by Orion.

GRE Snacks 14 – GRE Prometric Test Center experience transcript:

 Welcome to GRE snacks snackin full episodes about the GRE exam in graduate school admission. I'm Tyler founder of Achievable. Let's get started. Alright. So today we're going to be talking about the test experience for taking the GRE first with the normal one and then going in to what the at home experience is like nowadays and how that differs.
 Yeah, I know. There's been so many changes recently. We're recording this in March of 2021. It's been I think we're in the 54th week of our 14-day shut down here in California, but there are signs that we're returning to normalcy. We're not quite Texas or Florida yet. But we're moving in the direction of opening things up safely. And I hope things get back to normal as soon as we can all work Wilton. The other thing there is now the cat's going to have the bag with Adam testing. I feel like they might do at home testing forever. Now we're having as an option for certain groups of people juggling to me.
 Hey there, Georgie listed is not offered at being unable to sell their product for a year. They were actually the very first company that I'm aware of to create at home administrations of their tests. They really lateraled and roll with the punches as best they could and they did offer at home began offering at home administration's I think within like 2 months of the shutdowns and you know, it's it's race to other security concerns. It's not a perfect solution, but it did allow UTSA continue to do business and it did allow students for their application process.
 So why not go away? You're right. I hope that in person in ministration comes back, but maybe it's going to be a ton of a both and as opposed to an either-or. It's it's unclear about normally what's the experience of going to a testing center? Because hopefully that's something that's going to be available to students in the near future and is available to students right now in places outside of California. So taking the GRE he's going to be different from taking like the SAT the memories of taking the SAT if you know a lot of people have is that you get her turned into a big Jim at your high school or your college and you know, you're sitting in these amphitheaters and everyone is taking the same task. It's a paper-based Administration and etc. Etc. In the GRE in ministration is very very different.
 At you're going to be taking them in a secured testing environment offered by a company called Prometric and no offense to Prometric their job is tested curity, but this is basically like a medium security prison is more security than going through TSA at the airport. Even if you kind of get flagged it's a lot and I like to talk about this with students first so they don't get rattled when it happens when they go to the test of him. So what can you expect for it to go to the testing center? It could take 30 to 45 minutes to check if you're going to have to wait in line for the part for the receptionist to really confirm everything. You have to bring a
 Valid non-expired government-issued photo ID if you are non US citizens need two of those guys don't get turned away just because you're not a US citizen you only bring one you're going to be photographed you're going to be fingerprinted or more accurately. The capillaries in your palm are going to be photographed with some like heat-sensitive photographic film. You're going to be patted down and searched you might have to turn out your pockets. You can have to remove your watch and your jewelry your glasses will be inspected.
 You'll have to put everything into a locked locker that you accepting for food water and medication. You won't be allowed to access for the duration of the test. And that's just in the waiting room second into the actual testing environment to get into the to the lab. You'll have to it's like Minority Report. You'll have to scan your palm to to enter into the door every time you you want to come into the door. So you need to go to the bathroom. You got to go through the whole rigmarole again.
 React to go inside. It's going to look like a normal computer lab. There's going to be probably 20 to 40 computers in there and semi-private cubicles with little dividers. They're going to desktop computers with detached keyboard Monitor and mouse the scrap paper and pencil will be waiting for you at the center, but not everyone's going to be taking the GRE.
 The person next to have taken the GMAT the person next to you might be taking and Bridge next to that person might be taking to the California Plumbing licensing exam. The person next to that guy could be taking the marriage and family therapist licensing test. I mean, there are hundreds and hundreds of tests that are offered at this these testing centers until people are going to be kind of coming and going throughout the experience. That's also to be aware of hopefully, they're not going to be bringing a lot of noise, but it was going to be on the Run schedule.
 You're going to be video. There's any video cameras in their room and it all takes place within like a chamber with two sided mirrors. So people are watching you you can usually cut the tension in the room with a knife because this is high-stakes testing. There's usually a lot of stressed out people in a room and prepared for months for something that paid a lot of money to prepare for a lot of money to take the test. It is chilling on a happy Good Times place. It's it's not a comfortable environment. That's what I'm saying.
 So that's generally the experience of taking a test at a testing center this a great deal of security which obviously there needs to be around a test like the GRE but it can be rapidly but after you like you fly for a few times the first time you ever flown in American Airline, it's like I have to take my shoes off and put my my my little toothpaste in the baggie and I could always rules and if you're not really aware of them and haven't gone through them before he can feel kind of startling or even a little invasive, but if you kind of know the drill, you can have your bag and you can take your laptop out ahead of time. You can loosen your shoes and it's not that big of a deal.
 So that's the you were taking one of these tests to the testing center before Tyler. Yeah, when I took the GMAT is pretty much what you described. I didn't it wasn't very tense for me, but it did feel very clinical. Like I felt like a doctor's office except there's a doctor's office for you. You would do stuff called you a sterile testing environment. So it should kind of feel clinical it should feel like everything is scripted from the very first point of contact with the student strips at the reception as follows or protocols for everything because they're trying to keep the experience of taking the test as standard across students as possible. Right? I mean, it makes sense. Like if you were talking a receptionist receptionist was like
 You're going to you're going to kill it and then the next student. They're like our good luck. You will break yourself away. Like I mean like at that point it actually does probably make a difference. So I think that's it is funny that you called a medium security prison because that's kind of what it's like, I think if you denounce you for it,
 I mean unlikely that at a reception is going to kind of demoralize somebody beforehand, but what's interesting is that even subtler things then you're going to do great day tours. I don't know can throw we can have a profound impact on students performances. This is actually a very interesting field of inquire within psychology that has to do a stereotype bias. You might remember if you're old enough set like before you took the SAT. I remember I had to mark my race item mark my gender and things like that before I even took the test and what a lot of research has discovered is that just reminding certain people of what their gender identification is our wish their racial identification is before they take a test for example can actually have statistically significant impact on their score just like bringing race or gender to a person's attention before a math test in particular.
 Do that anymore. So it's not just like hey you're going to do great or I don't know. I think you're going to bomb this. It's like they don't they're not allowed to ask certain questions anymore. It's actually very clinical for that matter because these effects can be profound and have a great deal of empirical evidence to support their validity actually interesting. So now that we know how important it is to have a clinical and standard test environment. Let's talk about testing from home where that is not the case at all. For the GRE am at home Administration that I've now worked with dozens and dozens of students of the past 12 months you have so I've gotten a lot of feedback from them and you know, it's clearly not as secure and that's one of the main challenges to the GRE right now and one of the rationalization for why some universities are not requiring the GRE during at home Administration.
 What is the failure of a test accurate but how did they try to head us? What's the ETS compromise compromise is not have to give it on the computer. It's still the same old test but to have an alive virtual Proctor. So ETS has partnered with a another for-profit company called I think proctoru and basically what they're going to do is live proctoring through your video camera and microphone. So these Proctor's can access your camera. You never see them. So it's like it's just like the two-way mirrors back in the the old testing center. So you never know when you're being observed which means that you're like somebody's not just staring at you through the video camera the entire time they're likely proctoring many different students simultaneously and kind of randomly checking more or less.
 But they're potentially observing for non-standard Behavior. That's what they would call it deviations from from protocol. So other things that they do is they want you to position the computer in the cameras that they can see the door to the room and the idea here is that they want to be able to see if people are coming in and out of the room you need to be alone. And if anybody comes into the room and just accidentally innocently could jeopardize the entire compromise the entire sitting
 They're going to like ask you to do a 360 with a camera on to kind of look under the desk and things like that.
 Make sure there's nothing SparkNotes.
 I mean, I guess that's what they're looking for. I don't know if SparkNotes are really going to help you on a test like the GRE but yeah, they're trying to to make sure that you're not bringing in a Content that you wouldn't be allowed at a testing center think to be on a suit be fairly easy to smuggle some of that in to it at home Administration, but you know if they're doing the rice.
 Another big change between in person and at home is the scratch paper in the testing center. You get white unlined paper like a booklet of it in a pencil with eraser. However at the Adams Administration they want you to use like a transparency or a whiteboard. So either one of these tiny white boards with a marker that can be erased or putting a transparency in a white sheet of paper which can be erased the key is that it's erasable. The reason for that I believe is not so much that they're worried about students cheating as copying down test content that they can then
 Potentially sell the guys like me or people are trying to break the pastor trying to maintain security over there. That's why they don't that's why they were in there. Yeah, exactly.
 Maybe in like something I thought of many ways to cheat and that's my Breaking Bad. Like if I ever get terminal cancer, oh
 I'll do something like that, but I'm not there yet.
 So there are a few different important trade off. So, you know, unlike the medium-security prison when you take it at home, you can be in your jammies and your bedroom so you can be kind of in a comfortable location. It can be a lower stress situation. You're in an environment that feels familiar and welcoming. I hope that said something to feel like it's not as a real at home. Some students even have told me that they thrive on kind of the detention in the ritual going to testing center. It makes it kind of bring their A-game. So I think that the at home versus the in-person administration's they resonate differently with with different temperaments and individuals and they're clearly pros and cons to each. I hope that they continue to offer the ministrations even when things go back online, but we'll see. We'll see what happens Brave, New World
 Yeah, don't make sense. Great. Well, thanks Orion. This has been GRE snacks hosted by Orion from StellarGRE and Tyler from Achievable, but she will go on Orion a partner to build a great Siri course, you can try it for free at or you can use the code podcast to get 10% off at checkout.
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