As soon as the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, global testing agency ETS shifted its tests from physical centres to at-home testing environment. ETS administers some of the world’s biggest tests such as GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and now that the pandemic is behind us, it has no plans to remove at-home tests. “We have invested a lot in securing at-home tests,” says Wallace Dalrymple, Chief Security Officer, ETS. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that at-home tests benefit test-takers by helping them save time and money. Excerpts:
What makes GRE and TOEFL big names in testing in India?
India has one of the world’s youngest populations and Indians view GRE and TOEFL as fair assessments. My role is to make these assessments even more fair and accurate, and level the field for honest test-takers.
Did your role assume more significance during the pandemic when more people were taking tests at home and there could be higher chances of cheating?
We immediately shifted to at-home testing environment, which we continue to support. One of the positives to have come out of that is now we have a secure at-home test for both GRE and TOEFL. You can take these tests either at home or at the test centre.
The first thing we did when Covid-19 happened was invest in people, because we wanted more experts who can securely administer the tests. In fact, in India, we hired a lot of security professionals. We also have been investing more heavily in technology controls to mitigate the risk of cheating. We have invested tens of millions of dollars in security, not just in technology but also in people.
Now that the pandemic is behind us, will you continue with at-home tests?
We have no plan to remove at-home tests because we have been able to manage these quite well during the pandemic, and this also benefits the test-takers—by helping them save a lot of time and money.
You have other exams as well, such as Praxis and TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). What makes GRE and TOEFL the biggest?
TOEFL is a global English assessment test, and because there are so many colleges and higher education institutes that teach in English, they require TOEFL scores.
GRE is one of the world’s oldest tests for getting admission into higher education institutes and now it’s even being used to get into some law schools. It doesn’t replace the LSAT, but universities are choosing it because they know this is a reputable test and the scores have value.
These global tests have global value and they let you get into colleges not just in the US, but also in Europe and Australia and other parts of the world.
What is the difference between TOEFL and IELTS?
TOEFL is the world’s leading English competency test. IELTS is a competitor test.
How many test centres do you have in India?
Just about two months ago we had about 105 test centres and now we have 120 test centres in India, so we continue to the grow the test centres because the demand is growing. India is the number one growth market for us in the world.