4 Things You Must Bring to the GRE for Test-Day Success


It’s the night before the GRE and you’re trying to prepare for the test. You might be wondering what to bring to the GRE test center!

In this guide, we’ll go over the one thing you must bring to be able to take the test, as well as some other things you should bring, for both the computer and the paper-based GRE. We’ll also provide you with printable checklists to help you make sure you know what to take to the GRE exam.


What to Bring on GRE Test Day No Matter What

There’s one thing you absolutely must bring to the test center when you take any GRE—computer-based or paper-based.


The #1 Item You Must Bring: Valid Identification

The item that you absolutely must bring to any administration of the GRE is valid identification. Without this, you will not be able to take your exam.

So, what are the criteria for valid ID?

  • The name on your ID must exactly match the name you used to register for the test, excluding spaces, accents, and apostrophes.
  • Your ID must have a recognizable photo of you and a signature.
  • The ID must be original—not a photocopy.
  • It must be currently valid, i.e., not expired.
  • In general, it must be a government-issued ID; student IDs, credit cards, and so on are not acceptable. The exact forms of ID that are acceptable vary by country.
  • If you do not have one piece of ID that meets all of the criteria, you may be able to use a supplemental form of ID to fulfill the ID requirements. However, no matter what, the last name that appears on your primary ID has to be the same as the name you used when you registered for the test (excluding accents). You cannot use supplementary forms of ID to address name discrepancies between your primary ID and your test registration record.

If you can, bring multiple forms of identification. That way if there is an issue with your primary ID, you can produce additional identification and hopefully still be able to take your test.

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Passports are usually a good ID choice!


What to Bring to the GRE Exam: Computer-Based

While valid ID is the only thing that you must bring with you to the computer-based GRE, there are several other items that you should bring for a more pleasant and smooth testing experience:

  • Extra layers: Testing centers are usually quite cold. Bringing a sweater or light jacket that you can layer on will allow you to control your own temperature instead of being subject to the dictates of the cold and unfeeling thermostat.
  • Healthy snack: This is another item that you won’t be able to bring into the testing room, but that you’ll be able to access during the break. A snack is essential because the GRE is very long, so keeping your blood sugar up is critical to maintain your energy levels. To that end, you want a snack with complex carbs and some protein, like a peanut butter nut bar. If you choose something with just simple sugars, like a candy bar, your blood sugar will spike and then drop, causing fatigue.


What NOT to Bring to the Computer-Based GRE

  • A calculator: You won’t be able to bring it into the testing room. The computer-delivered GRE interface has a built-in calculator.
  • Pencils and scratch paper: These will be provided to you by the test center. You aren’t allowed to bring your own into the testing room.
  • Jewelry and watches: The only jewelry allowed is wedding and engagement rings, and watches can not be brought into the testing room.


Printable Checklist: What to Bring to Computer-Based GRE Exams

Here’s our printable checklist to help you keep track of what to bring to the GRE!


Sadly, you must leave your kitten at home on test day.


What to Bring to the GRE: Paper-Based Administration

In addition to a valid ID, there are two other things you have to bring to your paper-based administration. There are also a couple of things you should bring for a smoother testing experience.


Items You Must Bring

  • Valid ID: As we have mentioned several times, you must bring a valid ID or you will be turned away at the testing center.
  • Confirmation e-mail: In addition to your ID, you also need to bring a printed copy of your confirmation email. This will serve as your admission ticket.
  • Pencils and erasers: Unlike for the computer-based GRE, you will need to bring your own #2 or HB pencils and erasers! You can’t count on the test center having extra.


Items You Should Bring

  • Layers: If you’ve ever taken a paper-based standardized test before, you are probably aware that the temperature in the testing location (which is usually some kind of educational institution) can vary dramatically throughout the experience, from fiery hot to icicle-cold. So be sure to bring layers that can ensure your comfort in a variety of testing climes.
  • Water: You can’t bring food or beverages into the testing room, but you will be able to access your water during the break. Dehydration can be distracting and even impair your focus. So be sure to drink up during the break!
  • A healthy snack: Eating a healthy snack during the break will help you keep up your energy. You don’t want to be hit with fatigue during the long testing marathon! A snack with some protein and complex carbs will help maintain your blood sugar without spiking it. A snack high in simple sugars, on the other hand, will cause you to crash later down the line—the last thing you want during a high-stakes test!


Candy corn: a bad snack choice.


What Not to Bring to the Paper-Based GRE

  • A calculator: You will be provided with a calculator for the Quant subsections at the testing center. You will not be allowed to use your own.
  • Scratch paper: You will be expected to write and do your calculations in the test booklet; no scratch paper will be allowed or provided.
  • Jewelry and watches: Other than wedding and engagement rings, no jewelry or watches are allowed into the testing room.


Printable Checklist: What to Bring to Paper-Based GRE Exams

Be sure to print out our checklist of what to bring to the GRE so you don’t forget anything on test morning!


Leave your puppy at home, too.


Key Takeaways: What to Bring to the GRE

All GRE Exams: You must bring a valid photo ID with the same name that you registered for the test with! It may be a good idea to also bring supplemental identification in case there is a problem with your primary ID.

Computer-based GRE: What to Bring

  • You should bring: Layers, water, a healthy snack

Paper-based GRE: What to Bring

  • You must bring (in addition to the ID): A printed copy of your confirmation e-mail and HB/#2 pencils and erasers!
  • You should bring: Layers, water, a healthy snack

Items You Can’t Bring to Any GRE:

  • A calculator
  • Scratch paper
  • Jewelry and watches


Another thing you can’t bring with you to the testing center. But you deserve them!


What’s Next?

More GRE questions? Check out our GRE FAQ to get all your questions answered! Or see our deep dive on how the GRE is actually scored and our guide to interpreting GRE scores.

Looking for help with GRE preparation? See our guide to making a GRE study plan, our complete collection of GRE practice tests, and our list of all six official ETS practice tests.

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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics.