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Testing update for April 2020: TOEFL, GRE, IELTS, Pearson

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • As of 2 April, the TOEFL iBT and GRE exams are available to be taken at home in nearly all markets around the world
  • As of 22 April, a new indicative IELTS test will also be available to be taken at home
  • Most other standardised testing has been suspended or is being offered on a reduced schedule depending on local regulations and conditions
  • Test availability by country is being regularly updated by the major test providers

Update for 15 April: IELTS announces at-home testing service. Please see details below.

TOEFL launches at-home testing

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced last week that it has rolled out a new global service to allow students to take the TOEFL iBT and GRE exams at home. As we reported recently, in-person testing for both exams – along with a majority of other standardised admissions tests – has been suspended or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand the challenges that our test takers are facing worldwide and are pleased to now offer an option to safely test at home without compromising the integrity of our tests,” said Srikant Gopal, executive director of the TOEFL testing programme.

The new at-home service is nearly global in that it is available to students worldwide with the exception of those in Mainland China and Iran. “In Mainland China, ETS is working closely with NEEA to accommodate test takers impacted by test cancellations, including adding test dates once regular testing resumes,” said an ETS spokesperson. “ETS is working to offer at-home testing in Iran as soon as possible.”

The at-home testing is conducted with the help of artificial intelligence technology and with oversight from live human remote proctoring provided by ProctorU. ETS adds, “These at-home testing solutions are identical in content, format, on-screen experience, scoring and pricing as the TOEFL iBT test and GRE General Test taken at a test centre. Every test feature that students would expect in the test centre — such as the ability to preview, skip questions, review and change answers on the GRE General Test, and the ability to view Reading and Listening scores at the end of the TOEFL iBT test — is available to test takers via these solutions.”

Registering students can choose from multiple test times and testing dates are currently open through June 2020. Depending on local market conditions, ETS will later determine how to extend at-home testing after this initial period.

Students have an opportunity to select from numerous test times each week to find a time that fits their schedules. Registration is currently open for test dates through June 2020. ETS will continue to assess the situation to determine whether additional test dates will be added.

IELTS announces at-home testing; updates on local testing services

On 15 April, IELTS announces a new at-home testing service – IELTS Indicator – explaining, “IELTS Indicator will assess a test taker’s English language proficiency across all four skills, in a timed test that matches the structure of an IELTS test. The academic questions have been developed using the same high-quality standards as IELTS to ensure that it remains reliable, fair and accurate. IELTS Indicator uses standard IELTS marking procedures, and official IELTS Examiners. The Speaking test is delivered via video call with a fully qualified and trained Examiner, maintaining IELTS focus on assessing conversational English proficiency.”

IELTS Indicator will offered in countries where in-person testing has been suspended due to the pandemic. Test sessions will be available as of 22 April, and are accompanied by a caution for students that, “As IELTS Indicator provides an indicative score only, it is not accepted by all organisations. Before you book, be sure to check with your university or educational institution.” 

With regard to in-person services, a statement from IELTS notes that testing remains suspended in a number of locations “in line with official requirements of healthcare authorities.” However, some testing is going ahead in locations where it is judged safe to do so, and where local authorities allow, “with additional precautions in place to help protect the health of test takers and staff.”

The current status by location is being updated regularly on the IELTS website. Those planning to register for or sit the IELTS exam are advised to carefully consult those listings for the latest information, and especially as schedules are changing quickly market by market.

A screen capture from the IELTS website with updates on testing schedules by location. Source: IELTS
A screen capture from the IELTS website with updates on testing schedules by location. Source: IELTS

PTE Academic updates by market

Pearson is also maintaining a regularly updated status page to update test availability and scheduling for the PTE Academic exam in markets around the world.

The company has also provided an outline of resources and tips for test takers to help students stay prepared for the exam when regular testing resumes.

For additional background, please see:

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