Scores cancelled, GRE candidates to sue US testing service

15:43, November 01, 2010      

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Some Chinese candidates for the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are forming a class-action suit against the provider of the test after it cancelled their scores due to the fact it had re-used questions from a previous exam.

Because the GRE held on the Chinese mainland on Oct. 23 re-used previous examination questions by mistake, U.S.-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) decided to cancel the scores of all candidates who participated in the examination, causing outrage among many. This prompted some candidates to plan a class-action lawsuit against ETS.

In regards to the GRE re-examination event, experts believe it may disrupt the application plans of candidates and advised candidates to adjust their mind-set and choose to retake the examination on Nov. 20.

Candidates advocate reducing the number of re-examination questions

After the incident, the ETS presented candidates with three options. They can take the re-examination for free in 2010, accept a free transfer examination in 2011 or receive a full refund. However, most candidates still feel like none of the options are acceptable.

A survey shows that nearly 74 percent of candidates believe their overall application plans have been disrupted, and more than 82 percent of candidates believe it will seriously affect their application process in the next year.

"The re-examination in November disrupted my overall plan. In general conditions, candidates should prepare personal materials and recommendations for studying abroad in November," said Li Xiao, a GRE candidate. "In addition, as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is also held in November, it is very difficult for candidates to prepare for two English tests in such a short time."

Most candidates believe it is not fair for them to have to accept the consequences caused by the mistakes of ETS. Some believe that since there were not many candidates who systematically reviewed the original questions, the number of re-examination questions should be reduced or the score of candidates should be counted by combining the scores of the re-examination and the previous examination.

Experts believe the mistake may have resulted from reform

Yang Zijiang, an official at the New Oriental Education and Technology Group, told reporters that the re-examination will not significantly influence the overseas study applications for fall 2011. The deadline for applications to American universities is usually Jan. 1, and only a few universities close their applications on Dec. 1.

Moreover, the GRE scores are normally published after two weeks and sent to American universities after another two weeks. The ETS has promised to publish the re-examination scores in 10 days and they have also informed American universities that the scores of Chinese mainland candidates will be sent to them a little later.

Many candidates suspect that the mistake may be related to the exhaustion of the GRE question bank. Some experts believe that the mistake by ETS is an administrative mistake because the ETS normally chooses examination articles on the Internet randomly and the same questions are impossible to come by. Experts concluded that the ETS neglected the examination because they focused their efforts on the reform in August 2011.

Counsel: ETS should compensate students for their losses

Qiu Baochang, counsel at the China Consumer Association, said that it is too simple and crude for the ETS to cancel the test scores and issue another examination, and it is also not fair to Chinese candidates. Therefore, the ETS should apologize publicly and make material and spiritual compensation to any Chinese candidates that may have encountered losses or trouble as a result of their actions.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:王寒露)

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