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The GRE Essay Section — the Word Processor's Features and Limitations

You'll compose both of your GRE essays using the basic word processor built into the testing interface. (Handwritten responses are not permitted.) During the pre-test computer tutorial, which immediately precedes the exam's timed sections, you can practice using the word processor.

Editing Your Essays with the Built-in Word Processor

With the GRE's built-in word processor you can perform the following basic editing functions:

  • Delete, cut or paste text by selecting the text and then clicking the DELETE, CUT, or INSERT button on the screen

  • Undo only your most recent delete, cut or insert by clicking the UNDO button on the screen

As with other word processors, you can navigate the text you've typed using either the mouse or the keyboard keys (arrows, home, end, page up, and page down), and you indicate paragraph breaks by using the ENTER key.

Limitations of the GRE Word Processor

The GRE word processor lacks many features that are standard in those you're probably accustomed to using. (Don't worry: GRE readers who evaluate and score the essays understand these limitations.) Notably, the stripped-down GRE word processor lacks the following features:

  • COPY (only CUT and DELETE are available)

  • Drag-and-drop (selecting and moving text with the mouse)

  • multiple UNDO

  • TAB and INDENT

  • Spell-checking and grammar-checkingv

  • Text formatting (changing font, text size, highlighting text with attributes such as bold, italics, or underlining)

As you practice composing GRE essays, be sure to use only the editing features of the GRE word processor. Otherwise, its limitations might distract and frustrate you during the actual exam.