Good news!  I was clicking around the ETS website (as I often do) and I discovered that people can quickly opt-out of the TOEFL Search Service or the GRE Search Service (and any other search services run by ETS) by sending an email to:

I learned this by reading the Privacy Policy

Students sometimes complain on social media about excessive contacts from recruiters after taking the TOEFL or GRE.  They report unsolicited live calls, texts and emails.  Sometimes even paper catalogs in their mailboxes.  Those poor bastards accidentally clicked to opt-in to the “TOEFL Search Service” or the “GRE Search Service” and can’t figure out how to opt-out.  To date, I’ve generally recommended that they call New Jersey… but now I’ll give them the above email address!

Some of the complaints focus on excessive contacts made by Hult International Business School.  “Poets and Quants” recently described Hult as the ninth biggest scandal of the previous decade.  But they do have very good lawyers and a top-notch social media management team, so I’ll go on the record as saying that I think that Hult is the finest school in Massachusetts, and possibly (due to its expansive of international satellite campuses) the world.

Great news, everyone. Today I got this whole box of official TOEIC chocolates. Each individually wrapped chocolate comes with some vocabulary from the world of business.

They are sold by YBM, which is the official vendor of TOEIC Tests in Korea. They are available at convenience stores across the country.

I’ll have you know that this is not a sponsored post. I paid for this very large box of chocolates with my own money.


It is time for the latest “You Should Read More” column.  I spent this month traveling, and did much of the following reading on airplanes.  What a life.

I read the August 15, 2022 issue of “The New Yorker.”  Here’s what I liked:

  • The Reluctant Prophet of Effective Altruism is about the concept of “using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible, and taking action on that basis.”  Practitioners think very carefully about, for instance, how to donate money in ways that help the maximum number of people, even if their choices might raise a few eyebrows.   Others do things like donate every cent they earn (over a certain threshold) to carefully considered charitable causes, a habit called “earning to give.”  I suspect this topic could make a fun TOEFL reading or writing question.
  • Josephine Baker was the Spy France Wanted – And the Spy it Needed is a fascinating biographical sketch of the actress Josephine Baker, with an emphasis on her wartime activities as a spy for the allies.

I also read the October 10, 2022 issue of the same magazine. A few articles stood out:

  • Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?” looks into the topic of whether or not our personality is set in stone when we are young.  We change over time, of course, but our childhoods have a profound impact on the adults we eventually become.  I know mine did.
  • The Bodies in the Cave” discusses the pillaging of Native American artifacts and human remains by amateur collectors.  Grave robbers, basically.  America is one of the few places in the world where people are legally able to keep whatever they can dig up on their property, including human remains.  It is a fascinating (but unsettling) article.
  • Bertrand Piccard’s Laps Around the World is about Bertrand Piccard’s 2014 circumnavigation of the world in his solar powered plane Solar Impulse.  But it is also about his father and grandfather, both very famous explorers.  The Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard was apparently named after this family.

Lastly, I reach the October 24 issue of the same magazine.  Yeah, I spent this month traveling and only  had access to a stack of New Yorkers.  There might be more variety next month.  I liked:

  • What We’ve Lost Playing the Lottery, which is a history of lotteries in the United States, with a particular emphasis on scratch tickets.  Turns out that public lotteries aren’t as lucrative as we might think they are.  It also turns out that they have as many victims as we think they do.

Since I spent most of the month in Canada, I spent some time at my local public library and found a copy of Collins COBUILD Phrasal Verbs Dictionary.  I really liked it.  Basically, it’s a dictionary of words which highlights their use in various phrasal verbs.  Some words are accompanied by many phrasal verbs (“go” is followed by 12 pages listing everything from “go about” to “go without.”  Meanwhile, others have just a handful (“grind” includes just six phrasal verbs in total).  A supplement at the end lists “new phrasal verbs” that might be of interest to both learners and students.  The middle of the book includes some useless “exercises” that probably look good on an Amazon listing, but seem a bit out of place in this resource.

The PIE News has checked in with an update on the English Testing Scandal of 2014.  It describes the utter ruination of Sabtain Umer’s life after he (along with thousands of others) was accused of cheating on the TOEIC test.

The accusations (read more) were based on evidence produced by ETS that was later described as “confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe” by an all-party parliamentary group created to investigate the scandal.

The chair of that group wrote in the foreword to its report:

“One thing that struck me throughout our hearings was that evidence from ETS – the basis for denying visas to thousands of overseas students, often with catastrophic effects – quite simply could not be relied upon.”

The director of Migrant Voice called the ETS evidence “dodgy” in an earlier report by the PIE News.

Regardless, as I wrote here three months ago:

“97% of all TOEIC administrations in the UK from 2011 to 2014 were deemed suspicious or fraudulent. In the wake of that determination, test-takers were arrested and dragged off to detention centers. Mass deportations followed that. Affected individuals have spent the past decade trying to recover from both the tangible impacts on their lives and the emotional trauma. I’m not exaggerating.”

A few people have fought back and won, but most of the affected test takers have simply suffered in silence.

A decade has passed and though ETS was removed from the list of approved test providers by the Secretary of State, I’m not sure anyone from ETS has taken responsibility for their errors (I know you’re reading this, so correct me if I’m wrong, please).

Situations like Mr. Umer’s are why I continue to write about complaints that current TOEFL test takers have about score cancellations that come without the presentation of evidence and without an opportunity to mount an appeal.  Just a few weeks ago I wrote here about the apparent mass cancellation of scores in Iran and the plans and lives that were thrown into disaray in its wake.

There is an opportunity for those employed at ETS post-2014 to reach out to their longer tenured colleagues (if any remain) to discuss what they learned from this situation and how those learnings can further the organization’s mission to promote and increase equity in education.

I’ll write my own ideas in this space at a later date.  Stay tuned.

If this story is new to you, check out this report from BBC.

I finally found a moment to dig into the most recent Duolingo quarterly earnings. Revenue from the Duolingo English test for the three months ending March 31 of this year was 9.97 million, up from 8.08 million for the same three months in 2022.

Assuming that the test costs $49 a pop, we can surmise that it was taken 203,510 times in the quarter. The actual number is likely higher considering occasional discount pricing and freebies.

The test continues to grow and grow and grow. Here are historic revenues:

  • Q1 2023 – 9,970,000
  • Q4 2022 – 8,410,000
  • Q3 2022 – 8,192,000
  • Q2 2022 – 8,036,000
  • Q1 2022 – 8,080,000
  • Q4 2021 – 8,095,000
  • Q3 2021 – 6,695,000
  • Q2 2021 – 4,833,000
  • Q1 2021 – 5,035,000
  • Q4 2020 – 4,197,000
  • Q3 2020 – 5,607,000
  • Q2 2020 – 4,598,000
  • Q1 2020 – 753,000

Duolingo’s share price is up as well – 115% Year to Date.

Note that the price of the test increased at the beginning of April of this year.

I’m on every mailing list, so I got an invite to a webinar by Meazure Learning (ProctorU) with ETS about “the impact of an integrated testing experience.” The webinar is described thusly:

“As a global leader in assessments, ETS has made it their mission to advance quality and equity in everything they do. They’ve invested heavily in creating an integrated, seamless solution that ensures their test-takers have a positive and fair testing experience.”

Participants will “understand the challenges ETS faced and how they overcame them” and “learn about the positive outcomes ETS experienced from integration projects.”

The description of the webinar struck me because it seems to me that the collaboration between ProctorU and ETS has been horrible.  The press has been full of accounts of cheating on ETS tests which are proctored by ProctorU, and I get a steady stream of complaints from students who feel they have been mistreated.

It seems particularly tone-deaf that given the above, ETS and Meazure Learning would give a webinar about their successes.

I had to turn off my Google Notifications as I was getting a ton of emails about how Canada’s “Student Direct Stream” now accepts a much wider range of language test results. Testing organizations are also using social media to blast this information all over places where students gather.

A lot of people seem a bit confused about whether this is a big deal. And many people are confused about what the SDS actually is. Here’s a primer:

The SDS provides expedited processing of study permits for applicants from 14 countries (including India and China). Applicants are permitted to skip the queue if they can meet a bunch of requirements that normal applicants do not have to meet right away. Notably, they must language test score. Currently only academic or general IELTS (English) or TEF (French) scores are accepted.

Of course, students can only apply for the SDS once they have received an acceptance letter from a school. Can you see the redundancy in terms of language testing? Unless the student wants to take TWO language tests, they will probably take the IELTS to gain their acceptance letter in the first place.

But starting August 10 of this year, students will be able to submit scores from a greater range of tests! In English, they will be able to use IELTS (both types), CELPIP, CAEL, TOEFL, and PTE Academic! I think there will also be more flexibility in French, but I’m not really qualified to speak to that.

This means that students who plan to use the Student Direct Stream will have much more flexibility from the beginning of their academic journey. It is also a consumer-friendly measure that may nudge IELTS in the direction of more competitive pricing and test center availability.

Note that some media reports have indicated that only tests taken at a test center will be accepted, but I don’t see that stated on the Government of Canada webpages. Let me know if you can find an official reference to that requirement.

Now in “Language Testing” is an article looking into conflict of interest disclosure in validity testing of high stakes language assessments.

Say the authors:

“Test developers are highly invested in their tests, in multiple ways: They have invested time and effort in test development, they are invested in their reputation as skilled professionals, and their employing organizations often have financial interests in the success of the test.”

As it turns out, conflict of interest reporting is inadequate:

“While a majority of studies included a COI statement, a mere 4-7% of papers with a potential conflict made an appropriate disclosure. We see this as a widespread ethical shortcoming in the field.”


And also:

“…while the accuracy of funding disclosures was not a focus of the study, we did notice that it was common for studies published by developer authors to declare that no funding supported the research.”

Anyway. I’ve obviously cherry picked some of the most upsetting statements. But I do encourage interested parties to read the whole article to confirm that it is mostly negative.

Details are now available re: the free (scored) practice test that will accompany the revised TOEFL iBT in July.

It will be available on July 26 and the website says it will have:

-a complete TOEFL iBT mock test

-additional practice for all four sections

-AI-powered automated scoring

-performance feedback for all four sections

-personalized feedback and tips for Speaking and Writing responses

-high-level sample responses for Speaking and Writing

Watch for it in the App Store, the Google Play Store and on the ETS website.

ETS head Amit Sevak took to Duolingo’s hometown newspaper (The Pittsburgh Tribune) to level some criticisms at the popular app and related language test. For instance:

“Learning a new language is one of the most valuable skills one can learn. We owe it to the next generation to help them measure and evaluate their progress the right way. Because when the bar for evaluating proficiency is too low, students are set up to fail. We’re already seeing examples of this in UK university admissions — students who chose to submit their Duolingo English test scores as proof of English proficiency were performing worse than their peers.

Language education cannot become a race to the bottom. The goal shouldn’t be to make sure everyone can order a beer in multiple languages. We need to make sure people have effectively learned the language of the classroom and the office so they can succeed in global settings.”

And later:

“While other English-language assessments may be less expensive or easier to pass, do we really want to lower the bar for something as fundamental as the English language?”

It seems like a reasonable argument. I have my doubts about the validity of some language tests. Not just the Duolingo Test.

On the other hand, Mrs. Goodine is a paid-up subscriber to the Duolingo app and she seems to really like it.

Look for Duolingo’s response in the Lawrence Township Pennysaver sometime next week.

Those with an interest in knowing where all the money goes can now find the College Board 990 filing for the year ending December 2021 at Propublica. Business is good at the venerable non-profit. Revenues hit 983 million dollars, up from 779 million in 2020. Revenue less expenses (profit?) hit 112 million. That’s way up from negative 87 million in 2020.

The total value of the College Board’s assets hit 1.6 billion. That’s up from 1.3 billion in 2020.

Revenue from the AP program is 466 million. Revenue from the SAT program is 280 million.

The Board’s famous “Central America and the Caribbean” investments are now valued at 245 million.

CEO David Coleman received total compensation of 1.2 million dollars.

Much has been written (but not enough) about how the College Board has been bringing its programs back in-house, but they still paid ETS 298 million dollars for “testing services” in the year, which accounts for 34% of their total expenses (and 26% of ETS’s total revenues). That’s way down from a peak of 367 million in 2017… but still a huge amount of money. I’ll keep an eye on that number as the College Board continues to change how the SAT and PSAT are done. I’m curious what ETS actually does for the College Board at this point.

I tweeted this news at Annie Abrams, author of Shortchanged, and she pointed out:

$2,048,678 spent on “Direct contact with legislators, their staffs, government officials, or a legislative body”; $100k to JFF (; $50k to Jeb Bush’s Excellence in Ed (

Here’s something that was posted to Reddit a few days ago. The test-taker’s previous test was canceled because he may have received assistance during the test (no refund was given):

“I’m about to retake it. I got a completely empty room, nothing on the walls, with just a desk chair and computer pushed against the wall in the corner with the door right behind me. Should I put a mirror beside the door so they can see there’s nothing else in the room? I will also be diligent to not rest my face on my hand, roll my eyes, speak words to my self… I am truly terrified. I need this to go to grad school.


Anyone has any other advice to help me make sure I don’t get unfoundedly accused again?”

If the testing company is confident that there are no false positives they should keep doing what they are doing. If, on the other hand, there could be a few of those they should figure this out.

A sort-of rhetorical question: Do you know who really loves Reddit?

A sort-of insightful answer: Students from the country ETS is targeting above all others.