Can You Use Scratch Paper on the GRE? (4 Essential Rules)

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: December 18, 2021

Scratch paper - a valuable tool most students set aside without knowing just how helpful it can be.

The GRE brings along hundreds of worries, so a blank sheet of paper may seem merely trivial.

However, this golden sheet may be the make or break of your GRE. It allows you to jot down all your thoughts, calculations and reduces the chances of mistakes. Using scratch paper the right way will allow you to keep a focused mindset.

That’s why we have searched forums far and wide to answer all the questions you may have about scratch paper, as well as give you 4 effective strategies to best utilize this wonderful tool.

Will Scratch Paper Be Available On the Test Day?

A woman looking at her files while scratching her head

Scratch paper is not only allowed in a GRE, but it is also highly encouraged.

To avoid any funny business, you won’t be able to bring along your own scratch paper. However, you’ll be provided with a pencil and paper before you sit down to take your exam.

Before you enter the testing room, you will be asked to place your belongings into a locker, as well as show your pockets to ensure they are empty.

This stops students from bringing any prohibited materials - such as their own paper and pencils [1].

You can use your scratch paper to write anything you wish. Do keep in mind that you will be prohibited from bringing the paper with you if you leave the testing room during a break.

“You might want to replenish your supply of scratch paper during each scheduled break.” - ETS official website

Don’t worry about preserving space either, since you have an unlimited amount of scratch paper available. All you have to do is raise your hand, and an administrator will give you more [2].

Typically, a testing center will provide you with 3 - 6 sheets of paper to begin with, which will either be in loose pages or booklet form.

You’re also not allowed to take home the scratch paper from your GRE. You will be asked to leave it on your desk or hand it to an administrator, who will then dispose of it.

You will be immediately given your Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning scores after you complete the exam, so you should jot them down on a separate piece of paper or ask for a post-it note.

4 Rules On Scratch Paper

Crumpled papers on a blue background

Even scratch papers have rules. If you happen to break any of these rules and regulations during your GRE, you may be removed, and your scores will be voided.

To save you any confusion, we’ve gone ahead and listed some important rules to remember:

1. Don’t Bring Your Own Scratch Paper

To avoid cheating, you won’t be able to bring any scratch paper with you - even if it is blank. The examiner will provide you with plenty of scratch paper and even a pencil, so you don’t have to worry.

Related More: What to Bring to Your GRE Test?

2. The Scratch Paper Must Stay Blank Until The Exam Begins

You will not be allowed to jot anything down on your scratch paper until the exam officially begins. This is to prevent students from writing down any information and tips they memorized beforehand.

3. Only Write On The Scratch Paper Provided

You should only write on the paper provided to you and not on the computer or table. This could result in removal from the exam and/or a fee for damaging equipment. If you need more paper, just raise your hand, and an administrator will provide you with extra.

4. Leave The Scratch Paper Behind

You don’t need to take the scratch paper home with you (you’re also not allowed), so either hand it in to an administrator when you leave or place it on your desk. If you take even one piece with you, this could result in accusations of cheating or selling questions.

4 Effective Strategies For Using Scratch Paper

Indecisive person holding his documents

Now that you have your scratch paper, what do you do with it?

Here are 4 tips for using scratch paper to boost your GRE score:

1. Practice On Scratch Paper, Not Notebooks

Most students will use notebooks when practicing for the GRE, but they should be using scratch paper. Practicing with scratch paper will help perfect your note strategy and best replicate the test environment.

2. Keep Notes Organized

If your notes are all over the place, it’ll only make you more confused. For each section of the GRE, use a new side of the paper. You don’t have to worry about saving space because you can always get more. Note the page number at the top of your scratch paper.

3. Don’t Bother Erasing

Instead of using an eraser to remove your mistakes, just cross them out. Erasing and writing again wastes time, and it may even cause you to tear the page if you erase it too hard.

4. Write Neatly

Organized notes are worthless if you can’t read them. Sloppy notes = errors, so don’t rush and ensure your notes can be easily read.

Using Scratch Paper on the GRE: The Takeaway

Scratch paper helps you keep track of what you are doing, and it also makes it much easier to double-check your work.

Remember, you are not allowed to bring your own scratch paper, and you’ll have an unlimited supply at the testing center. All scratch paper should be handed in at the end and only begin writing once the test has begun.

Scratch paper may not be the answer to all your prayers, but it certainly makes the process easier.


  1. https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/videos/on-test-day-transcript
  2. https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/tips

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