Centre Shock: The Unexpected Challenges Your GRE Test Center May Throw at You!

Hi folks! Today’s post is a write up by Shraddha Barawkar, an engineering student (see brief bio below) about her GRE test experiences at the Prometric Center at Goregaon. We thought it might be interesting for all you GRE candidates out there to hear about how things worked out for her.

 


  • Name: Shraddha Barawkar
  • Branch: Mechanical Engineering
  • College: Pune Vidhyarthi Griha’s College of Engineering and Technology
  • GRE Date: 5 December 2014
  • GRE Center: Prometric Testing Pvt Ltd
  • Center Location: Techniplex I, Goregaon (West), Mumbai

 

Ideally, you should enter your GRE test center full of pep and leave it with a smile! But if you don’t prepare for conditions at the test center or think about travelling there, you may be in for an energy drain that can wipe the smile right off your face. And that can throw off your performance in the GRE!

One of the first things I realized is that it would have been better to be at the test location the day before. I live in Pune and my GRE test center in Goregaon West, Mumbai, was about 120 kms. away – that’s for non-Maharashtrian readers! (Google map and more details here) So, I had to wake up at 4 a.m. and eventually left my house at 6.30 for Mumbai. Not a good idea on the day of the exam!

However, it was early morning, there was only light traffic and so we reached the outskirts of Mumbai at 10 a.m. I heaved a sigh of relief: I had a 12.30 p.m. slot, there were still 2-½ hours for my test and we thought it would take only half an hour to cover the approximately 25 kms to the test center. But by then, the traffic had started up and so, it took us 1-½ hours. As a result, I didn’t even get to have breakfast in peace. Luckily though, my father was able to grab a couple of wadas for me from the vendors outside the center. Finally, at 12.25 p.m., I walked into the center.

My test room was on the 8th floor. As I entered the room, I saw 50 expressionless faces looking blankly at me: those of my fellow test-takers. Simultaneously, I was hit by a sharp temperature drop, from 300C outside, to around 180 inside. I felt as if I had entered a graveyard, and my hands started shivering. Nevertheless, I put a smile on my face and tried to converse with some of the folks there, but they were very reticent, adding to the nervousness I felt because of chill in the room. I could feel myself losing focus and giving in to the desire to just to get the exam over as soon as possible! The atmosphere at the test center, I realized, doesn’t help you to settle into the right frame of mind to take the test.

Shraddha's Overall Evaluation of the Test Center

Somehow, eventually, the formalities got over (passport, ID checking etc.) and, a painful half an hour later, we were asked to put our bags and accessories in the lockers. Then, one by one, we were sent to the main exam room. I relaxed a bit at that point, since I thought that the formalities were finally over. But I was wrong! Inside there was yet another room where I was asked to remove my blazer, unchain my back pockets, raise the collar of my formal shirt and unfold the lower portion of my jeans. This was all done by male authorities, which as a woman, I found quite embarrassing. Finally, I was sent to the test room.
During the exam itself, I encountered two important problems: firstly, typing with nearly numb fingers was a tough job in the analytical writing section. Secondly, during the 10 minute-break halfway through the test, I thought going to the waiting room would be a simple matter. But again I had to complete formalities involving signatures and time entry in order to check out. After the break the whole process of apparel checking was repeated which, took another 3-4 minutes. I was not aware that I had to include time for these things in the break as well and it was only by luck that I had come back early from my break. These circumstances made the GRE a tougher nut to crack!

You might wonder, why I am telling about you my frustrating experiences. It’s because I don’t want you to get demoralized by these things; I want you to be prepared for the worst. The first challenge lies in overcoming the unfavorable conditions at the test center. Only then can you attain the calm state of mind that you need to solve tricky GRE questions!

In conclusion, here’s my advice: if your test center is not located in your home town, you should be at the test location a day before. Find out about nearby places to eat and travel routes and times. Take into consideration traffic conditions too, and try to reach an hour early! You should also eat properly before the test and wear warm clothes. Sometimes the washrooms are far from the test rooms. So, be prepared for a long trek there and, if you are at the Goregaon center, all the formalities of signing in and signing out too!

Hope this helps folks.

This is Shraddha wishing you all the best to give your best!

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