HomeEducational Assessment and evaluationGREWhy Are GRE Scores Getting Canceled? | TTP GRE Blog

Why Are GRE Scores Getting Canceled? | TTP GRE Blog

If you’re planning to take the GRE General Test to apply to graduate schools, you may be aware of what has become a common refrain: “ETS canceled my GRE scores!” So, you may be wondering, “Why are GRE scores getting canceled?”

In this article, I’m going to explain why ETS is canceling GRE scores. I’ll also discuss the consequences of cheating on the GRE and what GRE test-takers can do to prevent score cancellation.

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

Let’s begin by discussing what’s resulting in cancellation of GRE scores.

Why Is ETS Canceling GRE Scores?

Since the GRE’s first days, it has been possible that ETS, the maker of the GRE, would cancel a test-taker’s GRE score. ETS has always canceled scores for a variety of reasons related to test administration or GRE test security.

However, until recently, cancellation of a GRE score was a rare event. Now, however, cancellation of GRE scores occurs regularly. The reason for this change is the advent of the online GRE.

With the ability to take the online GRE at home or in another place outside of a test center came the potential for two types of issues.

The first type of issue is failure to follow procedures. A test-taker not in a test center may fail to follow the procedures necessary for proper administration of the GRE.

The second type of issue is cheating. A test-taker taking the GRE outside of a test center may seek to take advantage of the situation to get unauthorized help with taking the test.

So, because such issues often arise when people take the GRE online, cancellation of GRE scores has become more common.

A Cautious Approach by ETS

With regard to cheating, ETS has taken a rather cautious approach. To ETS, the integrity of the GRE is paramount. So, ETS will, to protect the integrity of the GRE, cancel score recipients’ results quickly, given any evidence of cheating. In other words, ETS does not require ironclad proof of cheating to cancel a GRE score. Rather, ETS tends to err on the side of canceling scores if cheating appears to have occurred.

Now that we understand why ETS is canceling GRE scores, let’s discuss what ETS considers in deciding to cancel scores.


ETS has been canceling GRE scores more often than before because of issues associated with the online GRE.

The Reasons for GRE Score Cancellation

As we’ve discussed, there are two main reasons for ETS to cancel GRE test scores: procedural issues and issues related to cheating.

Procedural Issues That Result in GRE Score Cancellation

There are three types of procedural issues that can result in GRE score cancellation. They are:

  • testing irregularities
  • identification discrepancies
  • misconduct

Testing irregularities involve things that go wrong with the administration of the GRE, for example, errors made by test proctors or natural disasters. When ETS cancels a GRE score because of testing irregularities, ETS offers the test-taker a free retake.

Identification discrepancies involve issues with the test-taker’s identification. They range from inability to verify identity to clear evidence that the registered test-taker had someone else take the test. The consequences of identification discrepancies range from ETS declining to score the test to the registered test-taker being permanently banned from taking ETS tests.

Misconduct involves the test-taker failing to follow rules or procedures. When ETS cancels a score because of misconduct, the test-taker is not offered a refund or free retake. Also, in more severe cases of misconduct, ETS may temporarily or permanently ban the test-taker from taking any ETS test.


Types of procedural issues that can result in GRE score cancellation include testing irregularities, identification discrepancies, and misconduct.

There are two types of cheating issues that result in GRE score cancellation. One is plagiarism. The other is what ETS terms an “invalid score.”

Issues involving plagiarism are associated with the essay section of the test. If ETS finds that a test-taker’s essays are not original, it will cancel the test-taker’s GRE score.

An “invalid score” judgment can occur if ETS finds that there is “substantial evidence” that the test-taker cheated on the exam. “Substantial evidence” is not as strong as the evidence required for judging someone guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a court of law. Rather, ETS says that “substantial evidence” is “evidence sufficient to persuade a reasonable person.” In practice, this means ETS cancels GRE scores on the basis of evidence that not everyone would consider convincing.

Examples of substantial evidence provided by ETS include the following: discrepant handwriting, unusual answer patterns, and inconsistent performance on different parts of the test. However, that list is far from complete. As you can imagine, ETS will consider any type of evidence that a test-taker cheated on the GRE. Also, ETS uses a variety of resources, including AI, to assess what occurred during a test administration and thus determine whether there’s reason to believe that cheating occurred.

Also, ETS will cancel a GRE score and impose consequences regardless of when evidence of cheating comes to light. In other words, even after ETS releases a test-taker’s official scores or reports scores to schools, ETS may cancel the scores.


ETS cancels GRE scores when there is “substantial evidence” of cheating.

Let’s now discuss the consequences associated with cheating on the GRE.

GRE Cheating Consequences

The first consequence of suspected cheating on the GRE is that the test-taker’s GRE will go under review. This review won’t affect a test-taker who already has official GRE scores because ETS will leave already official scores in place while undertaking a review. However, for a test-taker who has not received official GRE scores, a review will lead to a delay in the release of the test-taker’s official scores. This delay can be from a few days to a few months.

If, in the review, ETS decides that there is not substantial evidence of cheating, the process is complete. However, if ETS decides that there is substantial evidence of cheating, the next step in the process is that the test-taker can appeal the decision. A successful appeal ends the process, and the scores are considered valid.

If the test-taker’s appeal is not successful, ETS will impose consequences for cheating. Typically, those consequences will be, in addition to score cancellation, a one-year ban from taking the GRE. However, depending on what ETS finds, the ban could be longer or permanent.

That said, though quick to cancel scores and impose bans, ETS is not overly heavy-handed with consequences. So, most test-takers whose GRE scores are canceled do not receive multi-year bans. Also, ETS does not mention cancellations on test-takers’ future score reports. So, schools are not informed that there is evidence that an individual cheated.


The consequences of cheating on the GRE include cancellation of GRE scores and a temporary or permanent ban from taking the GRE.

Of course, ideally, you’d avoid experiencing any of these consequences. So, let’s discuss what, in addition to not cheating on the GRE, you can do to avoid them.

How to Prevent a GRE Score Cancellation

One way to avoid most causes of a GRE score cancellation is to take the GRE at a test center. However, for a variety of reasons, you may want to take the GRE exam online. If so, here are some things you can do, in addition to following GRE rules and procedures, to avoid a score cancellation.

Avoid Acting in Certain Ways

One factor that causes ETS to cancel scores is actions that appear to indicate cheating with someone’s help. So, when you’re taking the GRE, avoid doing any of the following:

  • mouthing words or talking to yourself
  • leaning very close to or very far away from your computer screen
  • looking up or to the side of your screen
  • looking around or moving your eyes around more than necessary

Do Your Best to Make Your Test Performance Consistent

Another thing that ETS can consider a sign of cheating on the GRE is inconsistency in your test performance. Avoiding inconsistencies isn’t easy, but you can do your best to do the following:

Be Careful in Your Use of Technology When Taking the GRE

How you use technology can also get you flagged for possible cheating on the GRE. So, avoid doing any of the following:

  • attempting to use ctrl-c or ctrl-v
  • using Boot Camp on a Mac to run the online GRE, since ETS may perceive it as an unauthorized program operating in the background
  • hitting the Windows key, which will take the GRE exam out of full screen mode
  • using a borrowed laptop or Wi-Fi that has been previously used by other people for taking multiple GREs, as ETS may perceive use of shared laptops/Wi-Fi as indicating involvement in a GRE scam


To avoid a GRE score cancellation, don’t engage in certain types of actions, be consistent in your test performance, and be careful in your use of technology.

Let’s now answer some frequently asked questions about GRE score cancellation.

What Happens If ETS Cancels My GRE Score?

ETS cancels GRE scores at two different times in the score reporting process. One is before releasing a test-taker’s official GRE score. The other is after releasing a test-taker’s official score and reporting it to graduate schools.

If ETS discovers issues with your test before releasing your official score, ETS will not release your score and will inform you that your score is under review. The result of the review may be that ETS releases your score. On the other hand, if ETS determines that there is substantial evidence of cheating, you will be informed of the decision and given a chance to appeal it.

If ETS cancels your score after releasing it, ETS will remove the score from your score report. ETS will inform you of the cancellation and provide an opportunity to appeal the decision and reinstate your GRE score.

In either case, if your appeal isn’t successful, ETS will permanently cancel your scores and impose additional consequences. The consequences typically involve a one-year ban from retaking the GRE. In addition, ETS will inform any schools to which your GRE score has been reported that the score is not valid.


You are given an opportunity to appeal a score cancellation, after which ETS will either reinstate your GRE score or cancel it permanently and impose additional consequences.

Can I Retake the GRE If ETS Canceled My Score?

In most cases, test-takers whose scores have been canceled by ETS will be able to retake the GRE. However, if ETS canceled your score because of evidence of cheating, you may have to wait for a year or more to retake the GRE. Also, it’s possible that ETS will permanently ban you from taking the test.


If ETS canceled your score because of evidence of cheating, you may have to wait for a year or more to retake the GRE.

Let’s now wrap up with takeaways from what we’ve discussed.

Key Takeaways: Why Are GRE Scores Getting Canceled? 

Here is what we’ve discussed about GRE score cancellation.

What’s Next?

To learn how to master the GRE, you can read our posts on how to increase your GRE Quant score and how to ace GRE Verbal.

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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