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Frequently Asked Questions About the ETS® Major Field Tests


How many forms of each ETS® Major Field Test (MFT) are available?

Currently, only one form of each Major Field Test (MFT) is operational at any one point in time, with the exception of the title that is being redesigned. When the new form is introduced, the old form will be available for purchase in paper-and-pencil format for a limited time to aid the transition to the new form.

How often are test forms updated?

This depends on the field of study. For more rapidly changing subject areas, MFT test forms may be updated as frequently as every three years. For other subject areas, MFT test forms are updated at least every five years.

Why does ETS regularly update MFT forms?

ETS regularly updates MFT test forms to maintain their validity, reliability and fairness. This process ensures that the test specifications and content remain current to the pertinent disciplines and changes in teaching methods.

What is the process for updating an MFT test form?

When it is time to update an MFT form, ETS conducts a wide-scale curriculum survey of programs across the country to determine what should be covered in that MFT test title. ETS then assembles a committee of experts in the field to review the current test form and collaborate on the creation of the new test form. The new test form goes through an extensive process of editing and content review before it is made available for use.

How do we know that scores from the new form of an exam can be compared to scores from previous forms?

Total scores from different forms of the same test are made comparable through a statistical process called equating. The MFT equating process uses common questions — or an anchor block — to form a linkage between the previous test form and the new test form. Common-item equating is one of the most accurate methods of ensuring comparability of scores.

What are the different MFT score types and what do they mean?

MFT test titles might report as many as three different types of scores:

  • Total Score is an indicator of performance in the whole of the discipline.
  • Subscores represent large subdomains of the discipline and are based on enough test questions to be statistically reliable for both groups and individual students.
  • Assessment Indicators are reported at the group level only and are offered whenever there are too few test questions in a subdomain to create statistically reliable subscores.
Are all of the scores that MFT reports made comparable through the equating process when test forms are updated?

No. Equating requires an anchor block of common questions. Only the Total Score has enough test questions contributing to it to create this anchor block. So the Total Score is comparable from one test form to another, while Subscores and Assessment Indicators may have more limited comparability.

How soon will score reports be available for a new MFT test form?

This depends on the time it takes to gather a sufficient quantity of data. Score equating cannot begin until the data gathered for the new MFT test form is representative of the population that typically administers that MFT test title. Attaining a representative sample for a new test form may take as little as a few weeks or as long as a few months. ETS offers special promotions to institutions willing to administer new forms of an MFT test title to help expedite score equating. Check with your MFT account representative about these promotions to see if your institution qualifies.

When will comparative data be available for a new form of an MFT test title?

Comparative data should be representative of the students and institutions that participate in using that MFT test title. Data is gathered until the sample represented by the test takers is representative of the larger test-taking population for that MFT test title. Comparative data is typically published once a year in the fall, but comparative data for a new MFT test title may be withheld until score equating is completed and the comparative data pool is deemed representative of the larger population.

Can I use the comparative data for the current MFT test form to analyze scores from the new test form?

You may use the current MFT Comparative Data Guide (CDG) to evaluate total scaled scores from the new test form, to determine how your institution did on the new form as compared to the population that took the previous form. This comparison can be made because the total scaled scores are equated from form to form, and the new and old test forms are comparable.

However, due to differences in the scaled score distributions between different forms, the total scaled score percentiles in the current Comparative Data Guide should be used with caution. In the interim however, you can use the published comparative data to review how your institution did on their total scaled scores on the new form as compared to those who have taken the previous equated form. Keep in mind that the larger the number of test takers, the more stable the distribution of percentiles will be.

To assist in making the shifts more accurate, the Comparative Data, published in 2013, will now be in single point buckets. The five-point buckets previously used can mask the real magnitude of increases or decreases in percentile ranking. By moving to single point buckets, it allows for more accurate evaluation when a new form is released as it would eliminate some of the variance you see in the initial sample.

I used the new test form and now my percentile ranking has shifted. Why?

A shift in an institution's percentile ranking may be attributed to one or more factors depending on the type of score (e.g., total scaled score, subscore, assessment indicator). Since total scaled scores are statistically linked through an equating process, shifts in the percentile ranking are more likely due to the sample of students tested and their performance.

For subscores and assessment indicators, whenever an MFT test form is refreshed, data from the new test form cannot be combined with data from the preceding test form. This means that whenever a new MFT test form is published, the accumulation of data begins all over again. During this period of time, there will be fewer institutions and students represented by the comparative data, and so this new data may not yet be fully representative of the composition of the MFT test-taking population. Until comparative data are again accumulated for more institutions and students, you may see unexpected changes in percentile rankings for your institution from the year before. Until this reference group becomes stabilized by the addition of test-taker data from more institutions, please keep in mind that aberrances in percentile rankings across versions of the test may not be as much of a reflection of your program's performance as it is a reflection of the changing make-up of the reference group.

Online Testing

Does online testing involve more work for the institution and its staff than paper-and-pencil testing?

Not necessarily more work, but different work. The Major Field Tests online process consists of a hierarchy of users at the institution: an Institution Administrator, a Department Administrator for each test subject and a Proctor Administrator who must be present when exams are administered. When ETS establishes a Major Field Tests online account, it is creating only an Institution Administrator account. The Institution/Department Administrator Manual walks the Institution Administrator through the simple process of establishing the other roles.

For more information about online and paper-and-pencil test administration, review the Procedures section.

Can the online version of the Major Field Tests be administered off campus for my distance learning students?

Yes. The Major Field Tests can be administered using a remote proctoring service. By offering the off-campus testing option to your students, you can now administer proctored tests to your entire population regardless of their physical location. This ensures the integrity of the test as well as provides convenience for the test takers. The remote proctoring service is available for all MFT titles. For more information about off-campus testing, contact an ETS Advisor.

Are test preparation materials available for review or purchase?

Test preparation materials are not available, but sample questions can be found for each of the Major Field Tests in the Sample Questions section.

What should an institution do if a test administration is interrupted and Major Field Tests Online Customer Support is closed?

If the proctor cannot troubleshoot the problem using the manual, the test can be resumed when Major Field Tests Online Technical Support reopens, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET. You can contact Technical Support at 1-800-514-8491. The student will resume the exam at the last unanswered question with the exact time remaining when the interruption occurred.

What are administrators actually purchasing when they order an online exam?

In the absence of actual test booklets, institutions are instead purchasing the access rights to the exam. The purchasing institution receives permission to use the exam a certain number of times. The access rights to the exam are referred to as authorization codes. The authorization code is a random password that permits one student access to the exam and cannot be reused. So an institution that needs to administer 40 exams must order 40 authorization codes.

How can we verify the number of online exams available for our use?

Click the "Inventory" folder in your Major Field Tests online account to view your current inventory and purchase more tests if needed.

How can we rectify ordering errors with online tests — for example, when an order is short or over?

If you ordered online tests but the system generated fewer or more codes than were ordered, please contact Major Field Tests Online Technical Support at 1-800-514-8491.

If you ordered too few exams because of a key entry error, just order more exams using the same Major Field Tests Online ordering system and the same purchase order or credit card.

If an institution orders too many exams because of a key entry error or because it could not confirm how many exams were needed before ordering, the additional exams are not wasted. Just as with the paper-and-pencil testing, the tests for online exams can be retained indefinitely and used for future administrations.

It is better to order too few than too many exams because Major Field Tests Online makes it easy to order additional exams, but does not offer refunds for unused authorization codes.

Off-Campus Testing — Information for Institutions

Why should I consider using off-campus testing?

Off-campus testing allows you to reach a broader range of your students, primarily those who are not geographically near your campus testing center. Now you can assess your entire population with the same test and the same level of security to receive the most reliable and valid data available to do your analysis.

Is there a fee for utilizing off-campus testing?

Yes. There will be an additional fee per student to participate. See the pricing and ordering page for details.

Do I have to test everyone off campus?

No. When setting up a cohort for testing, you can choose which students you would like to test on campus or off campus.

How do I test students who require testing accommodations?

Students requiring testing accommodations will need to test on campus. Make arrangements for administering the MFT in the same way you would make arrangements for administering other important local tests.

How does the process work for off-campus testing?

When you set up your testing cohort, you will identify those students you would like to test using a remote proctor. Once identified, the students will receive an email directing them how to schedule their testing appointment. After the test has been completed, you will be able to view results and run reports as you do today.

What do students need to take the test using a remote proctor?

Students will receive an email with information on how to register for a testing appointment session and a link to test-taker information on the MFT website. This information will include ID requirements, computer requirements and what to expect on test day. The students will need to take the test on a computer with internet access and a webcam.

Are students able to reschedule or cancel a test session?

As long as the student reschedules or cancels within 24 hours of their testing appointment, there will be no penalty to the institution. See change or cancel your off-campus test registration on the policies and procedures page.

What happens if one of my students is absent from the test appointment or leaves in the middle of the test?

If the student is absent from the appointment, the session fee will be forfeited, but the test will remain in your inventory for future use. If the student leaves at any time during the testing session, the session and test will be forfeited.

What if a test taker cancels his/her testing appointment?

In order to avoid forfeiting fees, the test taker must cancel his/her registration no later than 24 hours prior to the test date. If a test taker cancels within this time period, the test session will be returned to your inventory for future use.

When will scores be available?

Scores will be accessible via the Internet immediately after test administration. Additionally, student scores will display on screen upon completion of the test and will also be available to the student by logging on to myResults Central.

What security measures are taken by the remote proctoring service?

Students will be asked to display identification before testing can begin. Students will also go through a process with the proctor that verifies that they are alone in the room and that no unauthorized materials are in the testing area. Students may also be asked to complete an authentication quiz before testing begins.

Using the webcam, the proctor will monitor the entire testing session. All discretions are noted by the proctor and reported to ETS. Failure to comply with these security measures may result in cancellation of the student's scores and forfeiture of all associated test fees.

Off-Campus Testing — Information for Test Takers

What are the ETS Major Field Tests?

The ETS Major Field Tests are comprehensive undergraduate and MBA outcomes assessments designed to measure the critical knowledge and understanding obtained by students in a major field of study.

Why take a Major Field Test?

Institutions use the Major Field Tests to measure students' mastery of their chosen field of study, assess the effectiveness of major programs of study and improve curricula and student learning outcomes.

Can I test off campus?

If you are eligible to test off campus, you will be notified by your institution.

How will I know if I am eligible?

Once your institution determines your eligibility, you will be sent an email that includes:

  • the link to the scheduling site
  • your unique authorization code
  • the test that you should take
  • your testing deadline
Do I have to pay for my test session?

If you have been instructed to pay by your institution you will be asked for your preferred method of payment (credit card or PayPal®) when you schedule your remote session.

I need testing accommodations, what do I do?

If you have a disability or health-related needs that require testing accommodations, contact your institution to discuss your options and schedule an on-campus testing session.

What do I need to take the test using a remote proctor?

You will receive an email with information on how to register for a testing appointment session and a link to test-taker information on the MFT website. This information will include ID requirements, computer requirements and what to expect on test day. You will need a computer equipped with a webcam, microphone and internet access. If your institution allows the use of scratch paper, you must have a single transparent plastic sleeve, a sheet of white paper and dry-erase marker. See what to bring for further details.

Please note: cell phones, smartphones, smart watches and any other electronic photographic, recording or listening devices are not permitted during testing. Refer to policies and procedures for further details.

What should I know about ID requirements?

The proctor will ask you to provide valid and acceptable ID documents. Valid and acceptable identification with your name, signature and photograph is required to begin the test. ID requirements are strictly enforced. Visit ID requirements to view a list of acceptable ID documents.

What other security measures are taken?

After reviewing your identification, the proctor will ask you to pan your webcam around the room so that he/she can verify that you are alone. The proctor will also ask you to use a reflective device to show them the area around your computer so that they can verify that no unauthorized testing aids are being used. After the proctor has confirmed that your testing area is secure, you may be asked to complete an authentication quiz. Once testing begins, the proctor will continue to monitor you using the webcam to ensure that test security is maintained.

What if I need to reschedule my test?

If you need to change your exam date or time, you must do so at least 24 hours before your testing appointment or all associated fees will be forfeited. You can reschedule your appointment at When prompted, you will need to enter the authorization code provided in your remote appointment confirmation email. Please review the rescheduling and cancellation policies and procedures.

Where can I find test preparation materials?

The Major Field Tests are intended to measure what you have learned over a course of study — not what you have learned in the days leading up to the test. A quick review of the test content descriptions and sample questions will help you get familiar with the areas covered by the test and the types of questions you can expect.

When will my scores be available?

If your institution elects to share your individual score with you, it will display on screen upon completion of the test where you can view or print for yourself. If scores are not yet available for that test, you will need to ask your institution if they can provide you with a preliminary score. You can also access the score report by logging on to myResults Central. Your institution will receive your scores as soon as you have completed testing.

General Questions about Major Field Tests?

For more information about how the Major Field Tests can help your program, contact an ETS Advisor.

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