The other day, I woke up to TWO emails from random strangers letting me know that their TOEFL scores were cancelled due to something resembling an accusation of plagiarism. The emails themselves weren’t strange – I get weird emails all the time since I am the only a few people writing about the minutiae of standardized language tests online.
What’s fascinating is that back in the day (say, 2021 and earlier) I would get ONE such report each year. Now I get multiple reports of score cancellations due to plagiarism each month. Sometimes multiple reports in a single week.
I don’t have access to the data, but I suspect something is different than before.
In each case, the test-taker gets the exact same un-specific notification:
“In the quality control process, the ETS Writing staff noticed that your response(s) to the integrated/independent Writing task did not reflect a response to the assigned task. This was noticeable since the responses for which you receive a score should be your own original and independent work. Further reviews determined that a portion of your Writing response(s) contains ideas, language and/or examples found in other test taker responses or from published sources.”
No further information is provided, even when specifically requested.
In all but one case, the students have denied (to me) committing actions along these lines.
There have been suggestions that AI is used to detect plagiarism nowadays, but I haven’t gotten a confirmation of that.
I don’t know if any of this matters, but it might be interesting to test-watchers.