ETS Privacy and Information Security Policy for Test Takers

Educational Testing Service ("ETS," "we," "us" or "our") respects your privacy. This Privacy and Information Security Policy for Test Takers ("Policy") governs ETS's collection, processing and all other aspects of our dealings with Personal Information about you as a test taker. You may provide Personal Information in a variety of ways, such as on the ETS website at www.ets.org ("Website") or through other methods including by mail, at testing centers or locations, by phone, or in other advertisements, communications or interactions that you have with ETS, its service providers, representatives or marketers.

By "Personal Information," we mean, generally, information that personally identifies you or another person. By "you," we mean an individual who uses our website, including (without limitation) potential customers such as students or others registering for tests or ordering other services, and individuals about whom you supply Personal Information. "You" does not include users in their capacities as ETS employees, employment applicants or contractors (other policies or contracts may apply to them).

By providing personal information to us or our representatives, by creating a profile or online account, by registering for or ordering one of our tests or other services, by providing us information as part of a query, or by taking other affirmative action to consent, you consent and agree to all terms and conditions of this Policy and the privacy policy and terms of use on the Site for yourself and for anyone else whose personal information you provide.

What This Policy Is

This Policy describes our collection, retention and disclosure of personal data. You are also subject to other agreements that you have entered into with ETS, such as the website, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, test registration terms, or other agreement. This Policy is part of and incorporated into each of those agreements, to the extent you are subject to them. To the extent those other agreements include additional terms that are not covered by or are inconsistent with this Policy, this Policy will supersede those terms.

Information We Collect That You Affirmatively Provide

We collect, process and otherwise Disclose (as defined below) Personal Information that you intentionally provide, such as the following:

  • Answers to surveys or website registrations
  • Registrations for tests
  • Ordering information (such as for an ETS service other than a test)

We do not always collect, or even ask for, all of the information on these lists. If you decide you would like to receive a particular service, some information is required. You can decide whether you want to enter the information to receive the particular service when you register for the service. You are responsible for providing accurate and complete information, and you are responsible for contacting that particular testing program through ets.org if correction of such information is required.

If you register for a test, create a profile or online account, or request certain other services, we collect information which varies with the activity but which typically includes items such as the following (some of which is optional, or apparent from other data):

  • Full name
  • Mailing address and country
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Identification documents or information such as a Social Security number, taxpayer ID, driver's license number, passport number or other governmental identifier subject to applicable law
  • Payment information such as credit or debit cards, checks, drafts, vouchers, money orders, coupons, bank account number, card or account security codes, and any other payment method that we accept
  • Your test registration number, candidate ID or other unique identifier issued by ETS
  • Educational information, such as student records and degrees or licenses received
  • Classification data (which may, but does not always, include your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, marital status, immigration status, native language, membership in affiliation groups or political or philosophical beliefs)
  • Additionally, we may also record your telephone and email conversations with our customer service representatives

If you take an ETS test, we will additionally collect or view information at the test center, such as your:

  • Photograph or fingerprint (we do not always take photographs or fingerprints, but reserve the right to do so)
  • Writing sample and signature (digital or paper)
  • Images in videotapes or voices in audiotapes of testing sessions (we do not always do this, but we reserve the right to do so) 
  • Audio record of your speaking ability for some language tests

If you have a disability and request a reasonable accommodation for taking a test, or request an accommodation for another reason, we collect information relevant to your request, such as:

  • Medical information
  • Other information relevant to the requested accommodation (e.g., disability or religious information)

If you request a fee waiver, fee reduction or a scholarship, you may need to supply information about finances and about someone else such as a parent or spouse. You agree not to supply information about others unless you first obtain their consent to do so and to have us treat their information under this Policy. Supplying such information will be your representation and warranty that you obtained their consent.

If you elect to provide a third party (such as a government agency) with your access credentials or permit them to view Personal Information about you on the Site (e.g., to see your test results), the third party might see:

  • Whatever information is accessible through use of the access credentials you shared with them (e.g., your test results and adjacent information)
  • Other information on accessible pages

If you create a profile on the website, we will ask you to provide:

  • Country of residence
  • Full name
  • Your address
  • Your gender
  • Your date of birth
  • Your telephone number

Personal Information requested on forms is not required unless so indicated on the form. Subject to applicable law, failure to provide required information will prevent you from obtaining the service you seek. Providing information pertaining to your religion, disability status or physical or cognitive challenges, or medical condition is optional, but if you are requesting an accommodation from ETS on any such basis, you must provide such information and consent to our processing of it.

How We Use and Disclose Personal Information

We use Personal Information to engage in our business and fulfill our mission. This means that we make (and reserve the right to make) all lawful, worldwide uses of Personal Information subject to this Policy and applicable law. This includes, but is not limited to, using, accessing (or barring access), processing, fulfilling, disclosing, displaying, sharing, transferring, storing, selling, leasing, retaining, combining, investigating, verifying, proving, enforcing and otherwise dealing, voluntarily or involuntarily, with that information except as otherwise expressly set forth in this Policy (collectively, "Disclose").

For example, we Disclose Personal Information to:

  • Process registrations, purchases and other transactions that you request from ETS and provide and keep records of the requested items or services subject to applicable law
  • Improve and personalize the website functionality, and our products and services, from time to time; identify products and services that may be of interest to our customers
  • Notify you about updates, products, services, and/or special offers from ETS, its affiliates and selected third parties
  • Ask you to participate in surveys
  • Generate aggregate data, which does not identify you in particular but tends to reflect collective information about you, and Disclose it for statistical studies and research by us or third parties or in relation to our products, services and your use of the website
  • Provide information to third parties that you select. For example, you may direct us to send:
    • your test scores to schools you designate
    • your contact or other information to selected service providers (such as to help you relocate to another country)
    • information needed by third parties to locate/access your records such as a government's immigration office 

    If you direct us to provide information to a third-party, the third-party's privacy policy will apply to the information it obtains. ETS has no ability or obligation to control what third parties you select do with your information.

  • Use your test responses, including essays, to create sample tests and training materials. This means that anything you write in your test may be reused, so we urge you not to include sensitive information in your test. There is no need to do so.
  • Engage in our everyday educational and business purposes, including but not limited to attempting to verify the identity of persons registering or taking tests or requesting scores
  • Deal with legal processes
  • Provide information to third parties with whom we contract
  • Make subsequent Disclosures such as using aspects of Personal Information for later research, or for meeting subsequent requests made by you (such as to forward your score or other data to another employer or university)

Disclosure Related to ETS's Mission

Routinely, we will Disclose relevant information to service providers or subsidiaries that generally relates to ETS's mission which is:

To advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services.

Our products and services measure knowledge and skills, promote learning and educational performance, and support education and professional development for all people worldwide.

Examples of service providers and other third parties that are a routine part of business are: payment processors and verification services, test center personnel, persons scoring tests, test score recipients, researchers, ETS staff, insurance companies, clients, shippers, outsourcing companies, data processors/managers/storage providers, repair persons, advertisers, mailing houses; persons with whom they deal (e.g., payment processors deal with banks and payment card associations), and our affiliates, agents, consultants, auditors, creditors and regulators. These service providers and other third parties sometimes receive a "code" for you instead of Personal Information directly identifying you (e.g., a person grading your test will know your code but not be able to associate it with your name), and they use and otherwise Disclose Personal Information received for purposes relevant to the job they do for us (e.g., to grade, assess, investigate, process, document, do research, make reports, and to collect and enforce actual or potential transactions, requests, rights, defenses and actions).

We or they may also provide (or reserve the right to provide) Personal Information to credit reporting agencies and to cooperate with law enforcement authorities or other governmental authorities consistently with applicable laws. We may also Disclose your Personal Information if a question is raised that you may have received, or assisted others in receiving, an unfair advantage in obtaining your (or others') test scores. The companies or individuals to whom we make Disclosures are located all over the world and that is why this Policy, among other things, serves as your consent to transferring Personal Information internationally.

There is no clear line between everyday business purposes and out-of-the-ordinary purposes, but here are some examples of what we view as more in the nature of non-everyday circumstances for our Disclosure of Personal Information: if there is any claim of a test security breach or if a claim is made that an imposter took your test, we use Personal Information to investigate that kind of claim; if ETS or most of its assets is sold, or if ETS participates in a joint venture, merger, consolidation, reorganization, liquidation or the like, or if there is a change of control or conversion of ETS, we will transfer and Disclose Personal Information in connection with that change of control. We may Disclose information in connection with those or other kinds of out-of-the-ordinary events.

Retention of Personal Information

We tend to retain Personal Information for the length of time that we, at our discretion, believe necessary to fulfill the purposes for which we collected it, to comply with applicable laws or contracts, and to operate our business and fulfill our educational mission.

For example, we are required to retain some Personal Information for contractual periods, and we are allowed to retain some Personal Information for periods we determine to be advisable (e.g., the period[s] in which litigation may be brought or an audit conducted or a tax levied). We may discard information at our discretion, so you should retain your own records. Often it is not feasible or advisable to discard information, so we reserve the right to retain it but treat it as inactive or discarded.

Your Access to Personal Information

We do not maintain all Personal Information in a form that can be accessed or updated by you and some items may not be changed. For example, you may not change information that we or others relied upon in connection with a test or test scores. We will determine what may be accessed and how; we may also keep a record of changes (including deletions) and disclose them for lawful purposes, including investigations.

Information Security and Protecting Yourself

ETS believes it has implemented, and it endeavors to maintain, commercially reasonable information security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the Personal Information ETS receives and applicable law. These are intended to help protect Personal Information from access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure that is unauthorized. For example, we collect Social Security numbers from United States registrants or similar identification information for international registrants for tests, and at least one jurisdiction requires us to take steps to protect the confidentiality of those numbers, prohibit unlawful disclosure and limit access to them. We do that with internal policies and procedures. We also endeavor to require our service providers to provide similar protection appropriate for the nature of the data handled by the provider.

Withdrawing Consent

In general, you may not withdraw your consent to this Policy — we will likely already have acted on it (such as to provide a test or score). Some Personal Information may be withdrawn, however, such as any profile that you establish online — you may remove it from the Site whenever you want to do so, but removal is not available as to uses already made of it (e.g., copies of data in a researcher's data will remain). You may also tell us to stop using your address to send marketing information. Please see "Choice to Opt Out and Access to Your Information" in the Privacy Policy for information on how to contact us. It is not always feasible for us to remove information, so we reserve the right to retain it but treat it as inactive or discarded. If this is not acceptable, do not supply the information in the first place (which, for required information, may mean you will not be able to order a particular service or product).

Your Particular Consents

To make sure that you are aware of certain items covered by this Policy, you must consent to the items set forth below. Typically, we will ask you to do so when you register for a test or other service, but we also include this list for your information and easy access. You may avoid the transfer or collection of the information, and the impact of your consent, by not engaging in the described activity. If you choose to engage in the activity that requires submission of the particular data type, you will be bound by your consent.

By providing personal information to us or our representatives, or by registering for or ordering one of our tests or other services, you expressly consent (or confirm your consent) to the following:

  • International Transfers of Personal Information: This Policy explains that ETS will make Disclosures and that international transfers of Personal Information will occur into and out of the United States and other countries worldwide. You expressly consent to these Disclosures and/or uses of your Personal Information for these purposes.
  • Subsequent Uses of Personal Information: This Policy explains that ETS will make subsequent uses of Personal Information. You expressly consent to these uses and/or Disclosures of your Personal Information for these purposes.
  • Accommodations for Disabilities: This Policy explains that if you request an accommodation for a disability, we will process and Disclose to third parties Personal Information provided in support of the requested accommodation, including information about your:
    • disability status or other physical or cognitive challenges
    • medical condition
    • philosophical, political or religious opinions or personal life
    • racial or ethnic origin

    You expressly consent to these Disclosures and/or uses of your Personal Information for these purposes.

  • Student and Employment Records: This Policy explains that we collect, Disclose and retain certain information if it is included in a larger, more comprehensive document such as student or employment records. Some of that may include information about your:
    • membership in any trade unions
    • criminal record, if any

    You expressly consent to these Disclosures and/or uses of your Personal Information for these purposes.

  • Payment for Services: If you request Services for charge, we will collect credit card or other payment information. You expressly consent to these Disclosures and/or uses of your Personal Information for these purposes.
  • Recording: This Policy explains that we collect some information by phone, audio/video, biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or still photographs. If you interact with us or a representative, you agree and expressly consent that we may record the information and Disclose it under this Policy.
  • Electronic Notice if There is a Security Breach of Personal Information: If we, an affiliate or one of our service providers is required to provide notice of unauthorized Disclosure of Personal Information, you agree that we (or they) may do so voluntarily or when required by posting notice on our Site or sending notice to any email address that we have on file for you, at our (or their) discretion to the extent permitted or required by law.

Effective Date: July 21, 2011

See also: