THE NEW GENERATION OF TOEFL TEST – TOEFL iBT

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Historically, the TOEFL test has been given as a paper-pencil test, mostly in form of multiple choice formats over the last thirty years or so. Although there are other standardized tests of English certifications, however, this TOEFL test is by far the most important recognition for non-native English speakers to apply for further studies in English speaking countries. As a result, about 5,000 colleges, universities, and other institutions in United States and Canada require students from non-English speaking countries to supply TOEFL test scores as part of the main application as evidence to show a person’s level of proficiency in English.

In 1998, a computer-based version of the test became available in many parts of the world. The newest generation of TOEFL test known as TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test), was first introduced during the 2005 – 2006 academic year. As the name implies, the test is delivered by using the means of internet connection. The test-takers which in this case “the candidates” who sit for the TOEFL iBT examination, work on the test over a computer screen individually at official testing centers. After all, the test is offered only on the scheduled basis when the testing dates are conducted.

Technically, the TOEFL iBT test is significantly different from the computer-based version of the previous one. For one thing to know the key difference in this test is the fact that it emphasizes a test-taker’s ability to communicate in an academic setting. Hence, a Speaking Section in this test has been added and the Writing Section has been further expanded.

Practically, the TOEFL iBT test specifically differs from the previous version in the following ways below:

a. There is apparently a new Speaking Section which tests your ability to be able to communicate orally. In that case, you record responses that are scored by raters at ETS.

b. Taking notes in all parts of sections is allowed in this test.

c. There are integrated/connected tasks that require you to combine your speaking and writing skills with your reading and listening skills.

d. Such grammar skills are tested indirectly, particularly in the Speaking and Writing sections. To put it simply, there are no separate grammar sections.

e. The lectures and conversations that you hear from the audio being played are the “authentic English”. Meaning to say, the language that you hear is more natural, like the language used in real-life situation. Additionally, the listening section contains the pauses, repetitions, self-corrections, and the words which sound “Uhm... or Uh...” that you would expect to hear in a real lecture or daily conversation from the recording that you hear.

f. Last but not least, the test is not “computer adaptive” unlike the previous computer-based version. In other words, if you answer a question correctly, the next part may not be so difficult. On the contrary, if you answer a question incorrectly, the next question may not be so easier either. All the test-takers are treated with the same question during each administration of the test.

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