What to Bring to the GRE? (5 Essentials for Test Takers)

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

The GRE is looming over the horizon. Your test prep is in full gear.

After so much studying, it'd be a shame if something went wrong on your test day. Or, worse, if you were banned from taking the test.

Here’s what to bring to the GRE to ensure that doesn’t happen.

The GRE Test Day: What to Bring?

You will be expected to bring some items with you on your GRE test day, but there’s not a whole lot that you must bring.

However, we’ll advise you to bring some additional items that will help you feel comfortable during your exam and get a high score.

1. Valid Photo ID(s)

A hand holding a valid ID

A valid photo identification document is the most important item you must bring to your GRE test. Without it, you won’t be allowed to take your exam.

The ETS gave test centers strict requirements to determine if an ID is valid and belongs to the person who brought it.

The number one requirement is that your ID contains your name exactly like you’ve entered it during registration.

If the test center questions your ID, they may ask you to give them another document to confirm your identity, a supplemental form of ID.

  • Examples of acceptable ID documents: national identification, driver’s license, passport (especially if you’re testing outside of the United States)

Full ID requirements

  • Your ID must be original, i.e. you can’t submit a copy.
  • Your ID must include your first and last name exactly like you’ve entered it when registering for the GRE.
  • Your ID must be government-issued.
  • Your ID must contain your signature.

Your birth certificate, social security number, or credit card aren’t considered valid IDs. For a full list of unacceptable IDs, please visit the ETS website.

2. Confirmation email

After you register for the GRE, the ETS will send you an email that confirms:

  • your test choice
  • your GRE test date
  • your chosen test center
  • score recipients

This confirmation email is your admission ticket to the GRE testing center. While test centers sometimes do have a list of all test-takers, it’s best that you bring the email with you. This will make your check-in process painless.

3. Pencils and erasers

Two pencils and one eraser on top of an answer sheet

This point applies to you if you’re taking the paper-based GRE, as you won’t need pencils or erasers for the computer-based test.

Don’t rely on testing centers having any extra stationery. Chances are, they’ll already be dealing with enough students who forgot to bring theirs, and they might not have any left for you.

4. Water and snacks

Bring from home some water and snacks that will keep you hydrated. Keep in mind that you’ll have to leave your snack in the locker, so you shouldn’t bring food that could spoil or decay.

A snack like dried fruit should do the trick. It will get your brain the hydration it needs to function and achieve a high score.

5. A list of schools you’re applying to

Lastly, bring the list of schools you’re applying to with you to the testing center.

You can send your scores to the schools after the test:

“The GRE has a feature called Score Select, which allows you to send your scores–for free–to as many as four schools. It also allows you–again for free–to send your scores from GRE test day or scores from all the GRE tests you’ve taken in the last five years, assuming you’ve taken the GRE more than once.”


- Chris Lele, GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager[1]

No one forces you to apply immediately but note that sending your scores later won’t be free.

What Not to Bring to the Test:

  • Calculator. You are allowed to use a calculator during the GRE exam, but not your own. You’ll get an official GRE calculator at the testing center. If you’re taking the computer-based test, you’ll have an on-screen calculator. Alternatively, if you’re taking a paper-based test, you may borrow one from the testing center.
  • Pencils and scratch paper. For the computer-based test, you aren’t allowed to bring your own pencils or paper into the testing area. You’ll get them from your test administrator.
  • Jewelry and accessories. Except for wedding and engagement rings, you can’t bring any jewelry (nor watches) into the testing room.
  • Phone. You can bring your phone—actually, you should—just note that you’ll have to leave it in your locker, and you’ll be able to use it only during a break.

What to Expect at the Test Center

A person doing an exam inside a classroom

Learn everything you need to know about the procedure before and during your testing, plus get our best tips on how to prepare for your test day.

1. Before the test 

  • Arrive early. Get to the testing center at least half an hour before your scheduled testing time. This will give you enough time to go through the verification process and get to the testing room on time. Besides that, if you arrive late, you may not be allowed to take the GRE that day.
  • Pass the identification process. Usually, you’ll only have to submit your ID, and that’s it. Sometimes, you’ll also have to go through extra verification, such as fingerprinting or signature comparison.
  • Leave your things in the locker. You can only have your ID, a pencil and an eraser in the testing room.
  • Wear layers. The temperature in the testing room may be cold. Dress comfortably and wear layers so that you can focus on solving your GRE without any nuisance.

During the test

  • Sign a statement. The ETS requires you to sign a statement which states that you agree with all the terms and conditions of the testing.
  • 4 ½ hours. That’s how long you won’t get home. The GRE General Test lasts a little less than 4 hours, but the whole procedure takes more.
  • Your longest break is 10 minutes. In addition to that, you’ll only get two one-minute breaks.

The Takeaway

Packing your items for the test day should be a part of your GRE prep. This will help you take the stress off.

In addition to that, you’ll ensure you have everything you need so that your verification process goes smoothly. There isn’t much you have to bring to the GRE from home besides your identification and authorization email.

But bringing a supplement ID in case your administrator questions your primary document or snacks and water all help make your experience as comfortable as possible. Follow this article while packing for the GRE General Test, and you won’t forget a thing.


  1. https://magoosh.com/gre/gre-test-day/

About the author

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment