Tuesday, September 10, 2013

GRE Name Change Woe

As many of you know, in order to gain entry to an MA or PhD level program in the United States, you have to register for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam), brought to you by ETS.

I have recently decided that I want to apply to PhD programs, so I logged into my ETS account and registered to take the GRE again. As you may also know, I got married back in April. I am very aware that in order to take the GRE that your name must match your ID. However, I could not find any information that dealt with an individual in my situation. The instructions provided here http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/register/name_you_use seemed in my opinion to be targeted at new users and did not address my situation at all. I did however, find information in the scores section that I thought applied to me. At https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/send/, it states that:

If Your Name Has Changed

If you are registering to take a GRE test, have changed your name since you took a previous GRE test and want current and previous scores reported, follow these instructions:

Computer-based Test

  • After you have registered to take the test, contact GRE services for assistance. Be prepared to provide your current name, appointment number, date of birth and previous name and test date.
I thought this was meant for me. I was registering to take the GRE, had changed my name since I'd taken the GRE last, and thought I wanted both sets of scores reported. Apparently I was wrong. I contacted customer service. The following is the little missive I wrote to GRE/ETS in response to that call.


I am less than thrilled with your customer service. I was under the impression due to an area of your website (https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/send/) that because I had taken the GRE under my maiden name, I had to register through your website with that account and get my name corrected after the fact. I am very aware that the name on my registration needs to match my ID or I can't take the test. Additionally, the ETS website would not allow me to edit my profile to reflect my name change. 

I called customer service and explained my situation. Now I've been told by your representatives that I have to cancel for only a partial refund and then register again, essentially paying $92 extra on top of the $185 fee. I was quite rudely told by a representative that I deliberately read the website wrong and out of context. Yes, maybe I did read the website wrong. But your website does not clearly cover situations for individuals who take the GRE before and after a name change. I was also told by this same representative that I was supposed to create a completely new ETS profile because I changed my last name and that ETS can't go into the system and change my name for me. It never occurred to me that I would have to create a completely new account because it's ridiculous. Nowhere on your website did it instruct me to do this before I registered. I'm still the same person, why can't I have the same profile?

I see no good way out of my situation because I'm sure ETS would never make an exception for someone who apparently made such a costly mistake on purpose according to your representative, who made it very clear to me that I will never get a full refund. I just want to complain and make sure that other people see this (especially newlywed women like myself) and don't make the same mistake. If you've taken the GRE before a name change, make a new ETS profile and then register. Apparently the instructions I mistakenly read apply to you then, and only then.

-Amanda Cullen,
The Girl Who Reads out of Context.

I'm angry now. But the truth is, right after that representative ended the call, I laid down on the floor and cried like a baby because the system is forcing me to pay approximately $277 for the privilege of taking a standardized test that proves I'm good enough.

UPDATE: I spoke to someone at the testing center on my campus, and she informed me that as long as I have one government issued ID with my maiden name on it I can take the test with it and have my name corrected on everything after the fact. As it just so happens, my Passport was issued less than a year ago and still has my old name on it. Excellent. I don't have to deal with ETS/GRE Customer Service and I can still take the test I originally scheduled.


  1. thanks for sharing information really it is very useful

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  2. I totally support GRE based exams when a student is going to enter into programs of such a higher academic level


  3. Gre exam is very important so students must keep in mind that only hardworking can help for passing it

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  4. I had the same problem!!
    I was so, so angry that I couldn't "fall back on" my old scores being reported to those 4 schools that are "included" in the testing price just in case I didn't improve. It is discrimination. Period. If I had money to hire a lawyer to look into the legality of such a set up, I would.

    Unfortunately, I've traveled abroad since changing my name on all my documents and did not have any official documents left with my maiden name. So I had to register with a new profile. I DID increase my scores (yay!), but I am now disgruntled by the fact schools won't see that I've made an improvement years after graduating from undergrad. Or that pesky subject test that I did AMAZING on, which is not required for my graduate program now, but some schools do comment that they will look at it.

    1. You might call GRE--I also have scores under my maiden name, and I was told that I could call and have those scores sent for free if I had already paid to have my new scores (under my married name) sent rather than pay twice.