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.

 

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!