GRE® Score-related Test Policies for Test Takers

Releasing Your Photograph to Your Designated Score Recipients

If an institution that you have designated to receive your scores requests to see your photograph taken at the test center, ETS will send that photo or other information in ETS's files to that institution as necessary to detect or prevent unlawful activity and to protect the integrity of the GRE® test.

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Absence from a Testing Session 

If you are absent from a test session, institutions will not receive any information about your absence or about any previous scores you may have on file.

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Preventing Unauthorized Release of Your Scores 

Your scores will be reported only to:

  • you
  • the institutions that you designate
  • approved graduate fellowship-granting sponsors that you designate
  • vendors the score recipients might designate to process the scores they receive

Score reports will be released only upon your request. ETS will not release your scores at the request of institutions or fellowship sponsors except for use in research studies that are approved by the GRE Board and that provide anonymity for test takers and the institutions they attend.

Your score record and the documents you completed that are retained at ETS may be released to third parties (e.g., government agencies, parties to a lawsuit) if requested pursuant to a subpoena.

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Test-takers' Background Information Data and Performance Data 

Test-takers' answers to background information questions and their performance data may be used in analysis samples, score interpretation data, group statistics and research studies. Test-takers' essay responses may be used in ETS materials to train scorers, to help score recipients interpret scores or to help examinees prepare for the test. In each instance, all identifying information will be removed.

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ETS Review of Test Questions 

ETS routinely follows extensive review and quality control procedures to detect and avoid flawed questions and consequent errors in scoring. Such procedures include:

  • independent reviews by qualified individuals
  • pretesting questions for the GRE® revised General Test
  • feedback from test takers after they have taken the test
  • careful analysis of performance data on each question after it has been administered in a test

Nonetheless, occasionally an error may be discovered after scores have been reported. Whenever this happens, we review the specific circumstances carefully and take the corrective action that is most fair to all concerned.

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Cancellation of Scores by ETS 

Test Security Issues

ETS strives to report scores that accurately reflect the performance of every test taker. Accordingly, ETS's standards and procedures for administering tests have two primary goals: giving test takers equivalent opportunities to demonstrate their abilities and preventing any test takers from gaining an unfair advantage over others. To promote these objectives, ETS reserves the right to cancel any test score when, in ETS's judgment, a testing irregularity occurs; there is an apparent discrepancy in a test-taker's identification; the test taker engages in misconduct or plagiarism, copying or communication occurs or the score is invalid for another reason. In addition, if ETS has information that ETS considers sufficient to indicate that a test taker has engaged in any activity that affects score validity, such as having someone else take the test for you, obtaining test questions or answers via the Internet, email text messaging or postings, it will result in score cancellation and/or any other action ETS deems appropriate, including banning you from future tests. You must agree to these terms and conditions when you register for the test and on test day. When, for any of the above reasons, ETS cancels a test score that has already been reported, it notifies score recipients that the score has been canceled.

Testing Irregularities

"Testing irregularities" refers to problems with the administration of a test. Testing irregularities may result from actions of test takers, test center personnel, ETS, or from natural or man-made causes. When testing irregularities occur, they may affect an individual or groups of test takers. Such problems include, without limitation, administrative errors (such as improper timing, improper seating, defective materials [e.g., improper test forms], and defective equipment); improper access to test content; and other disruptions of test administrations (such as natural disasters or other emergencies). When testing irregularities occur, ETS may decline to score the test or cancel the test score. When, in ETS's judgment it is appropriate to do so, ETS gives affected test takers the opportunity to take the test again as soon as possible without charge.

Identification Discrepancies

When in ETS's judgment or the judgment of test center administrators there is a discrepancy in a test-taker's identification, the test taker may be dismissed from the test center. In addition, ETS may decline to score the test or cancel the test score if the documents or photos from the test day cannot be validated or if ETS has evidence that you did not appear for the test. See Identification Requirements.

Misconduct

When ETS or test center administrators find that there is misconduct in connection with a test, the test taker may be dismissed from the test center, or ETS may decline to score the test, or may cancel the test score. Misconduct includes but is not limited to noncompliance with the Test Center Procedures and Regulations. Test takers whose scores are canceled will forfeit their test fees and must pay to take the entire GRE test again at a future administration. No record of the score cancellations, or the reason for cancellation, will appear on their future score reports sent to colleges, universities and/or fellowship sponsors.

Invalid Scores

ETS may also cancel scores if, in its judgment, there is substantial evidence that they are invalid for any other reason. Substantial evidence means evidence that is sufficient to persuade a reasonable person; the substantial evidence standard is lower (i.e., requires less proof) than the reasonable doubt, clear and convincing, and preponderance of the evidence standards. Evidence of invalid scores may include, without limitation, discrepant handwriting, unusual answer patterns and inconsistent performance on different parts of the test. Before canceling scores pursuant to this paragraph, ETS notifies the test taker in writing about its concerns, gives the test taker an opportunity to submit information that addresses ETS's concerns, considers any such information submitted and offers the test taker a choice of options. The options may include voluntary score cancellation, a free retest or arbitration in accordance with ETS's standard Arbitration Agreement. In addition, the test taker is sent a copy of a booklet, Why and How Educational Testing Service Questions Test Scores, which explains this process in greater detail. (This booklet is available to any test taker at any time on request.)

Note: The retest option is not available outside the United States and Canada. The arbitration option is available only for tests administered in the United States.

Independent Intellectual Activity 

Your essay responses on the Analytical Writing section will be reviewed by ETS essay-similarity-detection software and by experienced essay readers during the scoring process. In light of the high value placed on independent intellectual activity within graduate schools and universities, your essay response should represent your original work. ETS reserves the right to cancel test scores of any test taker when an essay response includes any of the following:

  • text that is unusually similar to that found in one or more other GRE essay responses;
  • quoting or paraphrasing, without attribution, language that appears in any published or unpublished sources, including sources from the Internet and/or sources provided by any third party;
  • unacknowledged use of work that has been produced through collaboration with others without citation of the contribution of others;
  • essays submitted as work of the test taker that appear to have been borrowed in whole or in part from elsewhere or prepared by another person.

When one or more of the above circumstances occurs, ETS may conclude, in its professional judgment, that the essay response does not reflect the independent writing skills that this test seeks to measure. When ETS reaches that conclusion, it cancels the Analytical Writing score and, because Analytical Writing scores are an integral part of the test as a whole, scores for the GRE® General Test (administered prior to August 1, 2011) or the GRE revised General Test are canceled as well.

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Test Fairness and Score Use 

ETS and the GRE Program have taken steps to ensure, to the extent possible, that tests and test scores are fair for all test takers, regardless of group membership. In addition, the GRE Board has developed Score Use Guidelines, a summary of the considerations for appropriate use of GRE test scores designed to encourage institutions to use GRE scores appropriately. For more information, see the Guidelines for the Use of GRE Scores.

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Scores Available in Your Reportable History 

GRE test scores are part of your reportable history for five years after the testing year in which you tested (July 1–June 30). As of July 1, 2013, GRE scores earned July 1, 2008, to the present will be available in your reportable GRE score history. With the ScoreSelect SM option, you can choose to send scores to institutions from your Most Recent, All or Any particular test administration in your reportable history.

Each year, the GRE program purges the database of GRE scores that are no longer reportable. In mid-June 2013, scores from individuals who tested between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008, were purged from the GRE database. In mid-June 2014, scores from individuals who tested between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, will be purged from the GRE database.

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