Scattered reports from TOEFL test-takers in recent days claiming that their “official” reading and listening scores are different from the “unofficial” scores seen at the end of their test. This is new to me. Perhaps score equating (for new test forms) is being done some days later due to the removal of unscored R and L questions.

If you have experienced this, please leave a comment below.  If you haven’t experienced this, leave a comment as well!

Today, ETS raised the cost of sending additional TOEFL score reports to institutions. As always, test-takers may send score reports to four institutions for free (as long as they are selected before test day). Beyond that, test-takers must now pay $25 per score report. That is an increase of $5.

In comparison, Duolingo and PTE-Academic test-takers can send unlimited score reports, all free of charge.

The cost of sending GRE score reports was also increased by $5, I believe.

There was some weirdness coming out of ETS earlier this month. ETS Japan (a subsidiary of ETS) put out an “alert” about the TOEFL Home Edition on Twitter and its website.  I mentioned that on LinkedIn and how I found it puzzling.  The alert was quickly removed. 

If you are curious, here is what puzzled me about the alert:

  1. It recommended system requirements quite higher than those on the ETS website and suggested that interruptions could occur if they are not met.
  2. It recommended things for test-takers to avoid during the test that are not mentioned on the ETS website (though some are buried in the TOEFL Bulletin).
  3. It mentioned that since 2022 testing has become more stringent due to cheating in some countries, and therefore some test-takers may not even realize they have broken a rule.
  4. It recommended that people taking the TOEFL iBT for the first time opt to take it at a test center.

Now, that’s all very good stuff. Indeed, it is similar  to what I tell test-takers who ask for my opinion.  That said, the last part isn’t the most ringing endorsement of the product.  Nor is the third part, I suppose.

There was also stuff in there about test-takers only getting help from ETS Japan if unable to resolve a problem via the US office of ETS. One senses that the announcement came as a result of a certain number of complaints from local test-takers.  Perhaps it came from a feeling of frustration.

I’ve written many times about how at-home test takers have been experiencing high levels of frustration.  I’ve also expressed my feeling that testing companies are not doing all they can do (and should do) for their customers.  If you are new to a testing company and have been tasked with figuring out why your test’s market share is way below 2019… well… this is a big part of it. This isn’t a dig at ETS, as I think it is a problem with all testing companies, to some extent.

But we are on the topic of ETS, for the moment.  One of the traditional criticisms of that organization (see: David Lewis, “None of the Above”) is that entrenched as they are on 400 acres of bucolic New Jersey countryside, they don’t always have a clear picture of how test-takers in the outside world are experiencing their products. And sometimes I get the impression that there is insufficient communication between various departments and offices of the organization (hence a quickly deleted “alert” about their most popular test).

Anyway. The point of all this is to suggest that perhaps some of the people in the TOEFL program who don’t usually deal with complaints from test-takers could call up the folks in Japan and ask what prompted the alert to be posted.  And, moreover, discuss what the head office can do better moving forward.

Now in Open Access at “Language Testing” is a summary of the enquiry (aka score review) and resit policies of all our favorite language tests (Cambridge English Qualifications, Duolingo, IELTS, LanguageCert, PTE, PSI Skills for English, TOEFL, Trinity).

It was done by William S. Pearson of the University of Exeter.

Really useful information to have.

I saw that ETS will present at this week’s AHEAD Conference on Equity and Excellence (AHEAD = Association on Higher Education and Disability). One of their presentations is titled “ETS Updates and Tips for Assisting Test Takers with Accommodation Requests.”

Regular readers of this space will know that about seven months ago ETS entered into an ADA Settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office “to resolve allegations of discrimination in violate of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Said the U.S. Attorney’s Office at that time:

“The settlement resolves allegations that Educational Testing Service (ETS), a New Jersey non-profit organization that administers standardized tests, engaged in discrimination in violation of the ADA by creating unlawful hurdles to individuals with disabilities who sought testing accommodations. Among other things, the United States alleged that ETS unlawfully denied requests for testing accommodations or failed to timely consider requests for testing accommodations, effectively denying those requests.”


“This agreement compels ETS to make systemic reforms and ends an unfair process for considering requests for testing accommodations. Through this settlement, thousands of Americans with disabilities will be given a fair shot in seeking admission to higher education.”

You can read the allegations in the settlement agreement. The alleged violations affected test-takers with learning disabilities, anxiety disorders and visual impairments attempting to write the GRE and Praxis exams.

Per the settlement agreement, within the first six months of this year, relevant members of ETS’s management team must attend ADA training courses that will teach them to better understand their obligations to test-takers. A record of attendance must be provided to the United States.

Every six months for the next three years ETS must provide written updates describing its progress in meeting the requirements established in the settlement agreement.

ETS must pay financial compensation to the plaintiffs named in the settlement.

ETS denies that it violated the ADA.

You may think that this is just ol’ Goodine taking another enthusiastic swipe at the ETS. But I write this no enthusiasm. I feel nothing, but I realize that if I don’t note this no one will, so there ya go.

I love all of my friends at ETS and am enthusiastic about their mission and values. Professionals within the organization probably can provide a lot of good advice about eliminating barriers to higher education affecting learners with disabilities (especially in light of the above). But context matters, I think.

Regular readers of this space know that my pet peeve in standardized testing is the growing phenomenon of customer-no-service. Especially score cancellations that seem unjustified, unsupported or just plain mysterious.

In light of the recent SCOTUS decision re: affirmative action improvement in this area is more necessary than ever. Testing companies now have to work extra hard to ensure they aren’t canceling legitimate scores achieved by members of equity seeking groups.  If nothing else, just imagine what the New York Times would write.

Anyway. With almost all of the big standardized tests gearing up for major changes in the months ahead, someone on a different social network than this one asked me what I would do to improve this situation. Here’s how I responded (I’ve removed company names):

Short Term:

  1. When tests are canceled due to the “possible” detection of malfeasance, a free re-test should be provided.  When you tell test-takers that they “may” have done something wrong they see that as an expression that your accusation lacks complete certainty.
  2. Staff up the department in your organization responsible for academic integrity far beyond current levels.  Give that department the time and money necessary to complete detailed (but timely) MANUAL reviews of all decisions to cancel test scores.  AI is fine, but remember to place humans in the loop at all times.
  3. Don’t depend on a third-party for-profit proctoring service for anything other than proctoring.  Don’t rely on them for decisions regarding test cancellations.
  4. Provide a robust appeals process when tests are canceled due entirely to statistical reasons.


Long Term (Pie in the Sky):

  1. Bring proctoring in-house.
  2. Collaborate with your peers in the testing industry to create a list of “best practices” for online proctoring. Or a code of ethics. Something that can be strictly adhered to so that test-takers get the best possible experience.
  3. Conduct regular independent audits of test cancellations.  Give someone outside your organization the ability to examine individual files to ensure that your decisions are justified.  This may seem like a bridge too far, but evidently it’s needed.  At the very least create a committee of employees from outside of your academic integrity department who can do this. Give them the time and resources needed to do a good job.
  4. Eliminate multiple choice questions.  This will eliminate a great deal of “analog” cheating in one fell swoop. Puzzling cancellations will also decline, obviously.

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.

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.

Test-takers from India may now pay for the TOEFL test in Rupees!  That’s really great.  To date many students have been required to use third party agents to help them process payments so this change should make a big difference.  It also looks like the fee for test-takers in India is fixed in rupees, which means the cost of the test won’t be impacted by ever-changing exchange rates.

Note, though, that local taxes are now added to the fee so it is a bit higher than it was previously.

I hope this is offered in more countries one day.

Huge changes are coming to the TOEFL iBT in July.  Here’s what you can watch for:

  • The test will be shorter.  It will take just about two hours to complete the whole test.
  • The reading section will have just two passages (twenty questions in total)
  • The listening section will be the same (but no unscored questions)
  • The speaking section will be the same
  • The independent writing question will be eliminated, but the integrated essay question will remain.
  • There will be a new “academic discussion” writing question.
  • There will be no unscored questions.
  • There will be no break during the test

I’m happy about all of these things.  I think test-takers will like them too.

If you are curious what the “academic discussion” question looks like, I’ve created and uploaded some samples for you.  Each contains a question and a sample response.  You might recognize it from the TOEFL Essentials Test!  Update:  I have also put together a guide to this question.

In addition to the aforementioned changes, the instructions given during the test will be streamlined and the test software will be improved.  Those will also result in some time savings.

Best of all, the user experience will be improved.  The test registration process will be made shorter and easier, and the user account will be modernized.  It should be a lot easier to find essential information in the account now.  Both of those things make me really happy.  As regular readers know, I’m really interested in improved test-taker experience.

This is scheduled to begin on July 26, but of course that date could change.  ETS will make an official announcement of all this stuff on April 11.  You don’t have to take my word for it… just check the TOEFL website on that date!

I’ve summarized these changes in a YouTube video as well!