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Petitioning Electronic Testing Services (ETS)

Electronic Testing Services (ETS): Stop discriminating against people who need to use the bathroom.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE), administered by ETS, is a standardized test required by most graduate schools as part of the application for admission. The test measures aptitude on a variety of skills, including Verbal/English Skills, Math Skills and Analytical Writing. The test, which is often done using a computer program in a special testing center, takes about four grueling hours to complete, and stringent measures are put in place to prevent cheating, including prohibiting students from taking anything into the room with them—including food or water—for the full 3-1/2 hours of the test, forbidding students to put coats or jackets anywhere except around their waist, and refusing students the ability to take more than one ten-minute break for the duration of the test. None of the information about these policies, however, are listed on the page you use to register for the site; most information regarding the GRE on ETS's website is limited to the structure of the test, and not about the conditions of the actual testing facility.

As a woman scheduled to take her GRE in her 8th month of pregnancy, I was shocked to discover just two weeks before my test date that I would only be allowed to take one ten-minute break during the entire four hours of taking the GRE, and that my need to use the bathroom once or more an hour required me to fill out multiple forms, have my doctor write a letter confirming my "health condition," and re-register manually for the test, potentially delaying my test date and requiring cancellation of my original registration. Additionally, the only mention of this while registering for the test ( is a note that "if you need to take extra or extended breaks, you need to follow the accommodations request procedures" in an accommodations booklet available for PDF download. There is no mention on the registration page of how many breaks you'll get during the test, or how long those breaks are. Nor is this information on the page specifically for test-takers with health-related needs (, which is also linked from the registration page.

It wasn't until three weeks before the test date, when I received an email from ETS reminding me of my test date, that I discovered I would only be allowed one bathroom break during the four hours of the test, and my need to use the bathroom once an hour would require "special accommodations."

Even if I wasn't pregnant, the idea that a four-hour test includes no more than one 10-minute break, and that something as simple as going to the bathroom would require me to request "special accommodations" that require jumping through multiple hoops just to register for the test is abhorrent. Taking the GRE is stressful to begin with; why add to it by basically telling people with normal bladder function that they have a disability and need to jump through hoops to register for the test?

I started this petition to let ETS know that going to the bathroom is not a "special need" that should require sorting through layers of bureaucracy to request "special accommodations." Together, we can send the message that this policy is ridiculous, and that going to the bathroom shouldn't be considered a disability.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Electronic Testing Services (ETS)

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