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Scoring Policies

Confidentiality of Scores

The TOEFL® program recognizes test takers' right to privacy. Under the ETS privacy and information security policy, it is the program's responsibility to protect information that is stored in data or research files held by ETS from unauthorized disclosure. Under certain specific conditions, this data may be shared:

  • ETS or its authorized representative(s) may share test takers' score data with institutions or agencies for verification purposes.
  • TOEFL test score data or writing and speaking responses that are not individually identified may be used at any time for informational, research, statistical or training purposes. Information retained in TOEFL records is the same as the information in the score posting and on the official score reports.
  • Official score reports will be sent only to those institutions or agencies chosen by the test taker when he or she registered to test, on a Score Report Request Form submitted at a later date, or otherwise authorized by the test taker.
  • Test takers who provide their TOEFL registration numbers to an entity (for example, government immigration offices) are deemed to have authorized release of their TOEFL score data to that entity. Do not provide your registration number to anyone unless you want to grant them access to your score data.
  • Entities must contract with ETS for access, but once they do that, they can use the information you provided to access your scores. Review specific Terms and Conditions of the TOEFL Online Score Verification Service.
  • ETS's goal is to report valid scores that reflect the test taker's own unaided abilities. To that end, ETS reserves the right to share any and all information in its possession about a test taker and the terms and conditions of test taking with appropriate parties, including:
    • any entity contracted with ETS and recognized as an authorized user of TOEFL test scores. This includes, without limitation, any entity to which ETS reports scores at the test taker's request.
    • any government agency responsible for administration or enforcement of U.S. criminal and/or immigration laws.
  • Information subject to release to appropriate parties includes — but is not limited to — test-taker identifying information, information concerning the conduct and findings of any test security investigation, and information regarding the test center where the test was taken.

Scores are not to be released by ETS score recipients without the permission of the test taker (subject to the arrangements and laws applicable to the test taker and the recipient).

ETS Use of Personal Information

By providing personal information to us and registering for a TOEFL test, you expressly consent (or confirm your consent) to allow ETS to use such personal information in accordance with the ETS Privacy and Security Policy and the Test Taker Privacy and Information Security Policy located at

ETS may collect some information by phone and/or audio/video, or collect biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or still photographs.

ETS Data Retention

ETS shall at all times protect your personal information with operational, administrative, technical and physical security safeguards. Unless your photograph or other biometric samples taken on the day of the test or during the check-in or registration process are being used in connection with a test security investigation, ETS shall retain them for a maximum of 3 years unless local regulations limit retention.

We will keep your information as needed to meet the following requirements:

  • To protect against fraud, theft and misrepresentation by unauthorized test takers
  • For the purpose of identity verification
  • To maintain integrity of the testing process

Inquiries on Test Questions

Language specialists prepare TOEFL test questions. These specialists follow careful, standardized procedures developed to ensure that all test material is of consistent high quality. Each question is reviewed by several members of the ETS staff.

The TOEFL Committee of Examiners, an independent group of professionals in the fields of linguistics, language testing and language teaching that reports to the TOEFL Board, establishes overall guidelines for the test content and specifications.

After test questions have been reviewed and revised as appropriate, they are selectively administered in trial situations and assembled into tests. The tests are then reviewed according to established ETS and TOEFL program procedures to ensure that all possible versions of the test are free of cultural bias. Statistical analyses of individual questions ensure that all items provide appropriate measurement information.

Although ETS employs extensive quality control checks throughout the development of test questions and the preparation of final tests, typographical errors or flaws in questions may occasionally occur. If you suspect a problem and want to question a test item for any reason, notify the test administrator before you leave the test site.

You may also write to:

MS 42N-208, TOEFL Test Question Inquiries
Educational Testing Service
Rosedale Road
Princeton, NJ 08541-­0001, USA

Or send a fax to +1-609-683-2600 as soon as possible after taking the test.

Please include:

  • the test name
  • the test section
  • the test date
  • the name of the center where the test was taken
  • the number of the test item being questioned, if possible

Complaints about Test Centers

If you have a complaint about the testing facilities or the test center staff, email no later than 5 days after your test date. Be sure to include the name you used when you registered, your registration number, the date of the test, the name of the test center, and the city and country in which you tested.

ETS Score Cancellation Policy

ETS and the TOEFL program strive to report scores that accurately reflect the performance and independent work of every test taker. ETS standards in this regard have 2 primary goals: giving all test takers an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities, and preventing any test taker from gaining an unfair advantage over others. These standards are of the utmost importance to ETS and those who rely on the validity of ETS test scores. Therefore, ETS reserves the right to cancel any test score when, in its sole judgment, there is substantial evidence that the score is invalid. Scores may be canceled as a result of test taker behavior or irregularities that affect testing integrity.

Test Taker Behavior

Fraudulent or unethical testing behavior will not be tolerated. ETS may use statistical or other professional evaluation methods as evidence that a test taker did not complete the test independently, or that pre-knowledge of test questions or answers occurred. If ETS believes that a test taker may have gained an unfair advantage by sharing or obtaining test questions, topics or answers before, during or after the test, or that a test was completed, in whole or in part, by someone or with the assistance of someone other than the registered test taker, ETS reserves the right to cancel the test taker's test appointment in advance, hold or cancel the test taker's scores, and/or ban the test taker from future testing.

If your scores are placed on hold, you will not be able to send score reports to any institution or agency until the investigation is complete and the scores are released.

If any of ETS's investigative methods result in a test taker's scores being canceled, or if unethical behavior is identified on test day, ETS may also share its concerns with score recipients selected by the test taker so that the information can be considered in the institution or agency's decision-making process.

ETS reserves the right to dismiss you from a testing site, cancel your scores and ban you from taking an ETS test in the future for violations such as, but not limited to, those listed under "Improper Behavior Leading to Dismissal from Test Center."

Test Integrity Irregularities

ETS may cancel your scores for irregularities such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Problems with the administration of a test (improper timing, improper seating, defective materials, defective equipment) and other disruptions of test administrations (natural disasters, weather conditions and other emergencies). These may affect an individual, a group or multiple groups of test takers.
  • Circumstances at the test center reasonably indicate that the test was improperly administered due to fraudulent or other improper or illegal activities. In certain circumstances, determined by ETS, all scores for test takers at a particular test center may be canceled even if there is no evidence of individual wrongdoing.

If your test administration is canceled before you test, or your test cannot be scored or your scores are canceled due to a testing irregularity, you can select a different test date and you will not be charged the rescheduling fee.

If you arrive at the test center and find out that the test administration has been canceled by ETS, you can reschedule your test at no charge or receive a full refund of your test fee.

If ETS cancels a test administration or cancels scores after you test, and you have incurred travel costs to get to the test center, you may be eligible for reimbursement of reasonable and documented travel expenses for yourself only within 30 days of your original test date. Refunds are in U.S. dollars. When you contact TOEFL® Services, have appropriate receipts available and be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address
  • Daytime phone number
  • Email address
  • Original test date
  • TOEFL registration number
  • A description of the problem

Invalidating/Canceling Scores

When there is information that ETS considers sufficient to indicate that a test taker has engaged in any activity that affects score validity, ETS may cancel the test taker's score and may ban the test taker from future ETS tests. In addition, when there is information that ETS considers sufficient that the administrator of the test did not comply with regulations, some or all scores from that administration may be held or canceled.

For test takers outside the United States, ETS may also inform score recipients of the reason(s) for the score cancellation and may also disclose the reason(s) for score cancellation in certain group cases. Note: This policy applies only to test takers outside the United States. For more detailed information, see Why and How ETS Questions TOEFL® Scores.

ETS reserves the right to take any action — including, but not limited to, dismissing the test taker from the test center, canceling the test taker's scores and banning the test taker from future testing — for failure to comply with test administration regulations or the test administrator's instructions. If a test taker is dismissed from the test center or a test taker's scores are canceled, that test taker's scores will not be reported, and the test fee will not be refunded.

ETS reserves the right to take appropriate action and/or notify the appropriate authorities, including but not limited to law enforcement authorities, if any test taker responds in a threatening or disturbing way to essay questions, or communicates with ETS either verbally or in writing in a threatening or disturbing manner.

Test takers who respond to a Speaking or Writing question by using profanity or other inappropriate language or content will receive a score of zero. ETS will exercise its right to determine what constitutes an inappropriate response.


ETS shall have no liability to any test taker for damages or claims of any kind whatsoever that the test taker may assert against ETS for not reporting scores, holding or canceling scores, banning the test taker from future testing or disclosure of test taker information pursuant to ETS's rights.

Report Suspicious Behavior — Test Fraud Hotline

Please contact ETS as soon as possible to report any conduct you observe at or in connection with a test administration that may be in conflict with the above policies, whether or not the conduct leads to an invalid score. The identity of any person making such a report will be held in confidence.


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