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New TOEFL Test Emphasizes Speaking, Listening Skills

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


The next-generation iBT TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test was administered for the first time in the United States on September 24.

It was the first trial of the Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL test which Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the U.S., the organization which manages TOEFL tests, came up with after having worked on it for 10 years. The iBT TOEFL test is an improvement on the computer-based version (CBT) of the TOEFL test.

The new iBT TOEFL test is different from the CBT TOEFL test in that there is no more Structure section which mainly measured test-takers’ grammar. The new version puts much more emphasis on practical communication skills such as speaking and writing.

The new iBT TOEFL measures four language skills of test-takers: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

In the newly added Speaking section, test-takers will listen to recorded material for three to five minutes. They are required to give summarized answers within one minute. Their responses are recorded and graded.

As for listening, the quality of sound has been improved than in previous versions of TOEFL tests. In the new version, test-takers are allowed to jot down important points on paper. It is also interesting that in the new version, various English accents are used. Various accents of English, including a British English accent and an Australian English accent, have been added.

In the Reading section, reading passages are longer and vocabulary is more difficult. Questions in Reading section on the iBT version test no longer have a regular pattern.

Experts say that the new version of the TOEFL test is more difficult than the previous ones and requires more sophisticated logical thinking.

Foreign press outlets forecast that the new version will put test-takers from Korea, Japan and Taiwan at the greatest disadvantage, whose English education is focused on grammar from textbooks.

The iBT TOEFL test’s running time is four hours, 30 minutes longer than that of the CBT version. The top score on the next generation iBT is 120, whereas the maximum score on the CBT version is 300. The test-taking fee for the iBT version is 140 dollars, more expensive than that of the CBT TOEFL test, which is 130 dollars.

The iBT TOEFL test will be administered in France, Germany and Italy starting from October 22. In other countries, it will be introduced in phases starting next year.