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Improper Behavior Leading to Test Termination: Test Security Procedures

Because so many individuals and institutions rely on TOEFL® test scores, test security is very important to ETS. There are procedures that test centers must follow to ensure the test is administered in a fair, secure manner. If you refuse or fail to follow any instructions of test center staff or the proctor, your test session will be terminated, and your test fee won't be refunded.

Investigating Fraudulent or Unethical Testing Behavior

Fraudulent or unethical testing behavior will not be tolerated. ETS may use statistical evaluation or other professional evaluation methods as evidence that a test taker did not complete the test or part of the test independently or that pre-knowledge of test questions or answers occurred. If ETS believes that a test taker may have gained an unfair advantage by sharing or obtaining test questions, topics or answers before, during or after the test, or that a test was completed in whole or in part by someone or with the assistance of someone other than the registered test taker, ETS may exercise its right to cancel the test taker's appointment in advance, hold or cancel the test taker's scores and/or ban the test taker from future testing.

If your scores are placed on hold, you will not be able to send score reports to any institution or agency until the investigation is complete and the scores are released.

If any of ETS's investigative methods result in a test taker's scores being canceled, or if unethical behavior is identified on or after test day, ETS may also share its concerns with score recipients selected by the test taker, so that the information can be considered in the institution's or agency's decision-making process. ETS will send a copy of your cancellation letter to any institution or agency that has received your scores.

Reasons for Test Termination

The test center administrator or proctor is authorized to dismiss you from the test center and/or terminate your test, and ETS reserves the right to hold and/or cancel your scores, and/or ban you from future testing, for any action that violates any of the policies and procedures in the Bulletin, on the TOEFL website or communicated to you at the test center or by the proctor on the day of the test, including but not limited to:

  • Taking or attempting to take the test or part of the test for someone else, or having or attempting to have someone take the test or part of the test for you.
  • Removing or attempting to remove or transmit any test content, scratch paper or notes relating to the test. Under no circumstances may test content or any part of the test content be removed, reproduced, transmitted and/or disclosed to any person or entity by any means, including by hard copy, verbally and/or electronically.
  • Referring to, looking through or working on any test or test section when not authorized to do so, or working after time has been called.
  • Failing to provide valid, acceptable identification.
  • Obtaining or having improper access to any test content, a part of the test, or information about the test, including test questions, topics or answers, in advance of the test administration, or bringing pre-knowledge of any test information into the test location. This includes on your ID documents, via prohibited devices, and any other method used as an aid in connection with the test. ETS reserves the right to cancel scores when evidence of pre-knowledge is found.
  • Using or having a phone, watch of any kind, or any other electronic device in your testing environment is prohibited and will result in your dismissal from the test center, test termination and/or cancellation of your scores by ETS. Your test fee will not be refunded.
  • Enabling screen sharing and remote access software during testing.
  • Using or having of any of the following unauthorized aids:
    • mechanical pencils
    • pens
    • scan pens
    • calculators
    • books
    • pamphlets
    • notes
    • unauthorized scrap paper
    • rulers
    • highlighter pens
    • stereos or radios with headphones
    • headphones (applies to at home testing)
    • dictionaries
    • test preparation materials
    • translators
    • any electronic listening, recording, scanning, listening or photographic devices
  • Bringing personal items other than ID documents into the testing area. Clothing and other personal items are subject to inspection by the test center supervisor or test proctor. You may also be prohibited from wearing certain clothing or hair accessories during testing. Items that may be inspected and/or prohibited include, but are not limited to:
    • neckties
    • bow ties
    • hats
    • scarves
    • jackets and other outerwear
    • tie clips
    • cuff links
    • combs
    • barrettes
    • headbands
    • jewelry (other than wedding rings)
  • Tampering with the computer.
  • Leaving the testing area or the test center building without permission during the test or during breaks.
  • Taking a weapon or firearm into the test center.
  • Having food or beverages in the testing area, unless you have been approved for an accommodation based on a disability or health-related need.
  • Having tobacco or electronic cigarettes in the testing area.
  • Taking unscheduled or unauthorized breaks.
  • Receiving assistance of any kind with your responses to the Speaking section questions.
  • Using notes of any kind to prepare your essay prior to your test or during breaks.
  • Evidence that responses are invalid for reasons including unusual timing patterns, unusual answer patterns, inconsistent performance on different parts of the test, or performance inconsistent with other test administrations.
  • Evidence that a Writing or Speaking response includes material that is substantially similar to material in other TOEFL test taker responses, or the quoting or paraphrasing of language or ideas from published or unpublished sources without attribution.
  • Creating a disturbance by engaging in any kind of disruptive or threatening behavior. Disruptive behavior in any form will not be tolerated. The test center administrator or proctor has sole discretion in determining what constitutes disruptive behavior.
  • Receiving or attempting to receive help, or giving or attempting to give help. Communication in any form is prohibited, including discussing or sharing test questions, topics or answers during the test or during previously approved breaks, and discussing or sharing test questions, topics or answer after the test. This also includes communication via chat, message board or forum, SMS message, text message, email or photographs.
  • Failing to follow any regulations in the Bulletin, on this website, instructions given by the test center administrator, proctor, or specified in any materials.

ETS reserves the right to take any and all action — including but not limited to banning you from future testing or holding or cancelling your scores — for failure to comply with test administration regulations, the test proctor's or the test center administrator's instructions. If your scores are canceled, they will not be reported and your test fee will not be refunded.

ETS is monitoring reuse of devices and testing locations for unauthorized purposes. Frequent, inappropriate reuse of shared testing devices and common testing locations may result in score delay and/or score cancellation and could impact your eligibility to take future ETS exams.

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