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What it Means If Your TOEFL Scores Are Under Administrative Review

Recently a few Magoosh TOEFL students have contacted me with a problem that is uncommon but not unheard of. These students have asked about delays to their score reports due to “administrative review.” In this post, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about TOEFL administrative review—what it is, how it effects score reporting, how you can know if your score reports are under administrative review, and what action you need to take.


What is administrative review?

Administrative review happens when ETS needs to delay issuing a score report. There can be a variety of reasons for the delay.

One of the most common reasons that scores are held up in administrative review is identification—problems correctly verifying a test-taker’s ID. This occurs when the name, date of birth, or other personal information on a test registry doesn’t match the personal information on the ID given at the test center.

Another common reason for administrative review is problems with payment of test fees. Sometimes a credit card company or bank can reject or recall a payment, or payment information can contain errors.

A third somewhat common reason relates to accusations of cheating from test center administrators. Fortunately, this is the least common of the top three reasons for administrative review. Because accusations of cheating are made in the test center at test day, you don’t need to worry about this serious-but-rare problem when you get an administrative review notice—if ETS thinks you cheated, they’ll let you know during or immediately after the testing session.


How to know if your scores are under administrative review

If your scores are placed under administrative review, ETS will contact you about it. Generally, notifications of this kind of score delay are sent by email; there won’t be a phone call or a physical letter sent by post. This unfortunately means that it’s possible for an administrative review notification to accidentally go into junk email or otherwise fail to reach you.

If you haven’t seen a TOEFL “administrative review” email in your inbox but there’s a noticeable delay in receiving your scores, it’s still possible that your scores may be under administrative review.


What to do if your scores are (or might be) under administrative review

If you receive an email notice from ETS about administrative review or if you’re unable to view your scores online after 14 days, contact TOEFL customer service as soon as you can.  From there, an ETS agent will be able to tell you why your scores have been delayed and what further action you need to take. In some cases, no further action may be needed on your part. Identification problems are often a result of clerical error and can be resolved internally by ETS. And payment issues can sometimes be resolved directly between ETS and your bank, without you needing to do anything else.

But often, calling in can speed up the resolution process. And there are also many instances in which some sort of action is required from the test-taker to solve a problem that’s triggered an administrative review.


19 Responses to What it Means If Your TOEFL Scores Are Under Administrative Review

  1. Palak Patel July 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    My result is delayed due to they accusing me of using my phone during the break. Not giving my scores. Will they cancel my scores?

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 12, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Yikes! I’m sorry to hear this is happening to you. There is a chance they could cancel your scores, if they suspect you might have used your phone to cheat in some way. But they also might not. In situations like this, it’s good to be assertive and work with ETS, talking to them about your side of the story. To get started on that, I recommend contacting TOEFL customer service, explaining your situation, and seeing who you should talk to about the problem.

  2. Hardik Gami August 8, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    Hello David,

    I gave TOEFL exam on 23rd of July 2016 and till now i should be able to get my result, but i didn’t got any notification from ETS so i called up and they told me they found an unauthorized sheet of paper at my desk. I know i haven’t done any unauthorized nor i even have cheated on test because this is a career and have invested a lot of time and money so I cant even think about cheating or taking a cheat sheet.

    When i checked my score status in my account it is written
    “Score Not Available” – its not “Under Administrative Review”, what does this mean ?

    Is my score cancel ? What should i do in this case.
    If you can help me or highlight me in this case, it would be great, I’m seriously worried and tensed.

    Really appreciate much for your time and effort

    Thank you
    Hardik Gami

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

      Hi Hardik,

      The “Score Not Available” message means they are still processing their decision, but it is a possibility that your score will be cancelled. You will have to wait for them to make their decision–they should notify you when they do. I’m so sorry this has happened. They are very strict about the test procedures, and it has affected you in this case. I hope this turns out well! Good luck! 🙂

      • Hardik Gami August 11, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

        Thank you so much for reply, I really appreciate it

        Is there any slightest way to give proof to them that I have not cheated in exam or the unauthorized sheet isn’t mine ? I’m sure there is a camera which records everything. Can show that as proof ? Or can I ask what is the unauthorized sheet about ? I don’t know that I’m allowed to ask these type of questions so please if you can spread light on that matter. Almost a week gone and still havenot received any updates from them.

        Btw, thank you so much for wish 🙂

        Hardik Gami

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm #


          This kind of administrative review is pretty rare, and no two cases are alike. That being said, I think there’s a definite possibility that you could use video surveillance as evidence in your case. You also can ask for details about the unauthorized sheet…. at least in the sense that asking for that information won’t get you in any trouble. Whether or not ETS gives you a clear answer is another matter. But I’d say it doesn’t hurt to ask.

          As you continue to move forward on this, I’d suggest you review ETS’s guide to administrative review of test scores. This gives a good overview of why your test scores might be questioned, how ETS may conduct its investigation, and what you can do in response.

        • Manpreet September 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

          Hi hardk you got your score

  3. Habeeba November 19, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    How to get out of this? There is issues with my identity
    I mean i wrote my middle name as a short form ‘mohd’ , which is there in practically ever certificate of mine but only in the passport its the full form ‘mohammed’
    And now my score is under administrative review
    Can i do anything from my side so that i can proove its the same person ?
    And also ive sent them a fax long back for changing my middle name to mohammed,they havent done that too still
    Please reply soon
    Ive sent them several emails,but they seem too insensitive

    • David Recine
      David Recine November 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

      Hi Habeeba,

      Sorry you’re going through this! 🙁 Cases like this are rare, and every case is a little different. So I can’t give you any guaranteed way to resolve this matter. However, I can tell you that a few things are very likely to help you.

      First, actually call TOEFL customer service. Live contact can help speed up the process. Second, contact the testing center as well, and ask them if they can verify your ID. You showed an actual photo ID at the test center, and that’s the true proof of your identity. Also, when you call TOEFL customer service, ask them if there’s a way they can verify your identity by photo, possibly with help from the test center where you took the test.

      Phone or face-to-face contact with test center administrators and TOEFL management– combined with use of photo ID– is likely to resolve this problem.

  4. Omid November 30, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    All of test takers who take the exam on November 18 received their own scores. But, Every time I check the score, the status is Not Available. What should I do?
    I was informed that a little bit delay for starting my speaking section after the break might cause a delay in my exam report. I’ve sent an email last week regarding this issue but I haven’t received any replies.
    Is my score cancel ? What should i do in this case.
    If you can help me or highlight me in this case, it would be great, I’m seriously worried and tensed.

    Really appreciate much for your time and effort

    Thank you

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 1, 2016 at 2:32 am #

      Oh Omid,

      I know it is worrying, but you will unfortunately have to wait for ETS to contact you. Until something has officially been said by them, there is nothing any of us can do. :/ Hang in there, and good luck!

      • Omid December 4, 2016 at 9:05 am #

        thank u for your kind consideration of my question.
        I called Toefl testing integrity and complately explained about delaying to report my score.
        they saied me to wait two weeks, your socore will report during the next two weeks, if wont call back!
        what should i do? it realy will report during two weeks??

        • David Recine
          David Recine December 6, 2016 at 7:24 am #

          From what you’re saying, Omid, it sounds like the administrative problems have only caused a delay in your score, not a cancellation. That’s good! But of course, it can be very stressful to wait for the delay to be resolved. My advice is to wait two weeks– it seems like ETS will likely keep its promise and deliver those scores. But if you get to two weeks and there’s still no sign of your scores, I would advise actually calling TOEFL customer service and really pressing for an answer.

  5. chizoba December 8, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    I registered with my first name, Okoro( Surname) before my other names,but in my confirmation slip from TOEFL my surname came last after my other names.Can it be a problem for my score delay since October 29th 2016.

    Again can TOEFL send me an email to check my score report ,without them posting it to my account?

    • David Recine
      David Recine December 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

      Sometimes a change in the order of a test-taker’s name can cause delays or confusion. And it sounds like you have had a noticeable delay in getting your scores, if I understand you correctly.

      At this point, if you still can’t actually see your TOEFL score in your account, I would definitely contact TOEFL customer service and ask them if there’s been a problem. Mention the name changes on the confirmation slip– that should help them find the exact cause of your delayed scores.

  6. Parth December 22, 2016 at 8:08 am #

    I gave my Toefl test on 9th December and there was delay in test as the test center was facing some connectivity issues . But they started the test almost 45 mins later from the scheduled time and there was no disturbance during entire test . Its already 22nd December today and its already 13 days . Some of my friends who gave the test at different center on same day got their score on 20th and I haven’t till now . What should I do ? The score section still says , “Score Not Available ” . I have my deadlines coming up and any delay would worsen the situation .

    What actually has happened ? Can anyone explain me or is anyone facing the similar situation ?

    Hope someone can help me out .

    Thank You

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

      Hi Parth,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I wouldn’t worry too much about this slight delay, and expect the score any day now. However, if you are concerned and you cannot afford a delay, I would contact ETS to see if there was a potential error/problem that you should be aware of. Hopefully you will get your score soon and this will be a non-issue! Best of luck, and good luck on your applications! 🙂

  7. Ting January 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    I took my exam on Nov 12 but the score is still not available. And I called them, they told me they thought I was cheating with my notes during the speaking test. We should I do ? I didn’t cheat at all. They just told me my score will be determined cancel or not. Should I just retake the test? I mean paid for it and didn’t cheat but I still have to pay again?
    Thank you

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

      Hi Ting,

      I’m sorry to hear about those difficulties! That is so frustrating. This is a process that ETS takes very seriously, and it’s hard to say what the best course of action is. My recommendation would be to call ETS and ask why they think you cheated and when a decision will be made. Hopefully, you can tell them your side and get some answers. If they do cancel your score, unfortunately you will have to pay again to re-take the test. Again, I’m sorry to hear about this issue and I hope you get good news soon!

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