I am faced with a dilemma after seeing questions like this in online graduate school applications:

screenshot of the question asking for GRE scores

I feel that ETS has been seriously unethical in their advertisement of the ScoreSelect option of score reporting.

I took an ETS GRE subject test last April as a junior. As a junior, I had no experience with the online graduate school applications that I do now. I took this exam with no preparation under the assumption that "ETS has the ScoreSelect option, so since I am fortunate enough to have the money to take this test, I ought to take it to have the most exposure I am. After all, with the ScoreSelect option, the schools I apply to won't see my score on this test."

Now that I have begun the online applications for graduate programs, I've become aware that many schools require not only a self-reporting of one's scores within fill-in boxes in the online application as well as the scores sent directly from ETS but also the PDF that ETS provides called the Score Report.

This Score Report contains ALL of a test taker's scores. This document completely negates ETS's mission with the ScoreSelect option of score reporting, and moreover, for ETS to not mention this alongside any advertisement of the ScoreSelect option is seriously unethical. In fact, (having taken some form of an ETS GRE test 4 times I have heard this spoken verbatim 4 times) after testing a GRE exam and outlining the process of cancelling one's score, ETS proctors urge test takers to "seriously consider one's options before opting to cancel one's scores. With ETS's ScoreSelect option you have the option to only report those scores that you wish to report to graduate schools."

The fact that many top tier graduate schools require the score report, ETS is not displaying their ScoreSelect option in an informed way. If ETS does not make the option available to users to make a custom score report PDF, then they have treated a great many test-takers who have this issue very unethically. Particularly, ETS has wronged me in not informing me of this score report policy before registering for a test with little to no preparation, which I did specifically under the umbrella of comfort that the ScoreSelect option provided. In not allowing customization of a customer's score report, ETS has rendered any positive aspects of the ScoreSelect option invalid for those of us who are applying to schools that feature questions like this in their applications.

Can anyone recommend a solution?

EDIT: Here is the document in question (redacted): link

EDIT2: screenshot with the more specific question

  • From GRE The Score Select Option: GRE® tests all provide the ScoreSelect® option, which means you can take a GRE test once now, or again in the future, and only send the GRE test scores from whichever test date(s) you want schools to see. (emphasize is mine) Would you please clarify what exactly you are asking?
    – Nobody
    Nov 7, 2018 at 3:48
  • So, the ScoreSelect option for reports scores is an incredible feature. It also customers to SEND i.e. official send from ETS to the schools we choose, which scores we want. However, we are often faced with online applications questions like the one linked above. Let me take out the sensitive info of my "Score Report PDF" which is the document requested from that online question and is also the document that I have an issue with ETS not giving us the option to customize. I will edit my question to include this. Thank you for asking your question, hopefully it helped others
    – Lopey Tall
    Nov 7, 2018 at 4:01
  • Since ETS said they will send the scores whichever you choose, you should ask them how to do that by e-mail.
    – Nobody
    Nov 7, 2018 at 4:05
  • 1
    @scaaahu: Sure you can, but the university will probably reject your application as incomplete. Nov 7, 2018 at 4:15
  • 1
    This is the first I've heard of any school requiring anything about multiple GRE scores, no school I've seen requested such a thing. Not to make this specific to just one school, but can you give an example of what top school states this requirement? The current trend for the last few years in top programs I'm familiar with has actually been away from the GRE, making it optional, or not wanting it at all. This seems like an odd abberration to me that any program demands all scores or any non-official report from the applicant. I'd like some more info to look into it a bit further.
    – BrianH
    Nov 7, 2018 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


I don't think there are any "solutions". If the university wants to ask for all scores, even the ones you wanted to block, then they can ask that. If you want to apply there, you don't have much choice but to answer honestly. Omitting material facts from an application is a pretty serious academic offense; even if they don't notice it at first, it can still get you kicked out of the program if it's discovered years later. Photoshopping the Score Report to erase the undesired scores would make that offense even more severe - now it's obvious fraud and falsification.

(It wouldn't really help even if ETS offered you the option to omit scores from your personal Score Report, since the university could demand that you submit the full version with nothing omitted.)

I agree that it seems a bit shady on ETS's part to suggest that this feature can really prevent universities from finding those scores, when in fact the university can still demand that you share them, and it's unfortunate that this led you to choose a less appropriate test-taking strategy. But none of that really has any bearing on your applications at this point. You could complain to ETS or sue them for false advertising or whatever, but that seems outside the scope of this site.

If it's any consolation, my impression is that universities are more likely to pay attention to recent scores, unless it's clear that you've taken the test a zillion times in hopes of randomly scoring well. So the older, lower scores may not hurt your application very much.

  • Your thoughts mirror mine. Altering this document, unofficial or not would be unethical on my part. Thank you for the comforting food for thought regarding whether a university will look down as much I as fear they would on retaking tests. My adviser suggested I simply address my lack of preparation for the test my first time taking it and that I made it a point to improve drastically over the summer (and the evidence that I did should make this a helping point rather than hurting).
    – Lopey Tall
    Nov 7, 2018 at 4:17
  • @LopeyTall: I agree with your advisor. Nov 7, 2018 at 4:18

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