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Prevention of Fraudulent Activity

Here are some of the many ways the GRE® General Test is protected from fraudulent activity from test design through the score reporting process.

Using the Highest Standards to Create and Deliver Test Content

The content, question types, design and delivery of the GRE General Test are all developed with fraud prevention in mind. ETS creates a significant number of new test questions each year to reduce the risk of memorization and cheating, and utilizes a sophisticated proprietary content rotation and delivery design to reduce the possibility that predictability could influence a score. In addition, ETS Office of Testing Integrity team members search online daily for the illegal sharing of ETS-owned proprietary test content. Watch our video, How ETS Develops Test Questions (Flash).

Establishing Secure Test Centers

Test administrations occur at Prometric® Test Administration Sites and Certified Test Administration Sites. Each test center undergoes a rigorous screening process to determine if the facilities meet security and technical requirements and to obtain verifiable references.

ETS uses the same internet security protocols as those used by major financial institutions for their secure transmissions. These include state-of-the-art encryption for essential communications and detection software that alerts us if a transmission is altered or disrupted.

At the beginning of each test administration, the test software automatically closes all non-GRE windows or applications, locks the desktop so the test taker cannot switch to any other task, and logs incidences of any applications that try to open during the test.

Internet delivery ensures that test content can only be accessed during the actual test administration.

ETS uses unannounced visits and sends secret shoppers to test sites to observe and ensure that the highest standards are being applied and maintained in testing environments around the world.

Ensuring the Training of Test Center Administrators

Test center staff are thoroughly trained by ETS and are required to pass a certification exam to demonstrate their knowledge of test delivery policy, practices and procedures before they can serve as a Test Center Administrator. Training includes the following security-related topics:

  • Identification requirements
  • Check-in procedures on the day of the test
  • Security of test data and computers used for testing
  • Test center layout

Instituting and Enforcing Test-taker Rules and Requirements

ETS utilizes some of the most extensive and proven measures to ensure security at the test center on test day:

  • Using trained test administrators and electronic surveillance for test monitoring
  • Adding new technologies such as wanding, mobile phone scrambling and other techniques (select locations)
  • Collecting handwriting samples, signature samples and photographs at test centers
  • Adhering to strict ID requirements, appropriate for each country
  • After checking into the test center, test takers:
    • Are prohibited from bringing items into the test center that could be used as a testing aid or to collect, share or collaborate on test content.
    • Have no access to personal items such as books, electronic devices, handbags and backpacks, all of which are stored separately from the test takers to maintain security.
    • Must display his/her photograph on the table in the assigned computer station once the test has started and again upon return from break. This allows the Test Center Supervisor to compare it to the test taker's picture that is presented on the computer screen, as necessary.

Maintaining the Quality of Scoring and Score Reporting

GRE Raters receive GRE Analytical Writing responses from test takers worldwide via an online scoring network. They are typically college and university faculty who have undergone training and certification in order to become GRE Raters.

Many strategies are used to ensure that all GRE Raters use the same scoring standard, including:

  • GRE Raters must pass a calibration test demonstrating accurate scoring at the beginning of each session in order to score operational essays.
  • Rater accuracy is tested during operational scoring by interspersing previously scored essays into the set of unscored essays. Previously scored essays are not identified as such.
  • Scoring leaders monitor GRE Raters' performance throughout the scoring session by reviewing their scores on operational essays, validity essays and calibration test results, and by monitoring score distributions. GRE Raters who cannot score accurately on a consistent basis, even after retraining, are dismissed.

See our scoring page to read more about how ETS scores the GRE General Test.

Another way ETS ensures the integrity of scores is through the security measures implemented for the paper score reports. Official score reports are printed on purple paper and sent directly from ETS to the institutions or organizations designated by the test taker.

ETS uses a secure paper for official GRE score reports that includes the following features:

  • A chain-link watermark on the back of the paper, which is visible when held at a 45-degree angle. This is the easiest, most obvious method of verifying the authenticity of an official score report.
  • A Full Chemical Sensitive VOID on the face of the paper. The word "VOID" is continuously repeated on an angle throughout the entire face of the document. "VOID" is produced in multiple languages when activated by a bleach, hyporide or ink eradicator.
  • In addition, GRE score reports include the words "ETS® Security Guard" in the upper right-hand corner, printed with a special heat-sensitive ink for security. To activate this security feature, recipients can apply heat to the text, either by rubbing it or blowing on it, and the ETS Security Guard text will disappear. This feature will not work if the score report has been photocopied.
  • A Laser Lock on the face of the paper. This makes it difficult to remove toner from laser- or ion-printed documents.
  • Laid lines on the back of the paper. Evenly spaced lines in a specially formulated grey ink, these laid lines make alteration by cutting and pasting difficult.

Next: Detection of Fraudulent Activity