You know what one of the big problems with the iBT (Internet) version of the TOEFL is? The Internet is not always stable. Just a few days ago, TOEFL students in Asia had a lot of trouble taking the exam:
The problem was with the main ETS (the company that runs TOEFL) server in the United States. About 4000 students in South Korea had to wait over two hours for the server to be fixed before they could take the exam. Some could not take the test at all. ETS has had a lot of computer system and network errors since it adopted the Internet-based Test (iBT) TOEFL in 2006. This is because the iBT format has to download test questions from the main server throughout the test, while the previous system, Computer-based Test (CBT), saved questions separately on each computer.
Many students who needed the TOEFL scores for college admission will now now have the scores in time to apply. Some have even urged legal action against ETS. People in smaller towns and cities often travel to a larger city to take the exam… that’s a lot of lost money and time.
ETS said the problem was caused by its main server in the United States and it will refund fees or allow a free retake for those who had to give up the test.
Do you think that’s enough, or should ETS compensate students further? If you have taken the TOEFL iBT before, did you experience any technical problems?
If you are looking to buy a TOEFL study guide, you should check out THE TOEFL BOOKSTORE. They link to Amazon for their TOEFL books and study guides, which means you usually save at least 10% on the TOEFL books. More importantly, if you look at the menu on the right side of the store, the books are sorted into categories, so that you can quickly find the book you are looking for. Have any of the readers here already used any TOEFL iBT books to help them study? If so, leave a comment letting us know which book you tried, and how helpful you found it.
ETS has reported that TOEFL scores for Chinese students have gone up to match the worldwide average. In case you were wondering, the worldwide average for the TOEFL iBT is 78. The average score in Taiwan is 72, in comparison. I think especially in the Speaking section of the TOEFL, Chinese students have suffered when compared to many others (though this applies to Japanese students as well). One thing to remember is that if you have an accent, you should try to work on any part of your accent which might cause your words to be misunderstood. But what you SHOULD NOT do is mumble in an attempt to hide your accent. It doesn’t work, and just causes more problems.
Here are some great free practice listening sections. Remember to time yourself when answering, as timing is very important on the TOEFL iBT.
For this TOEFL iBT lesson, here are the questions:
3. What does this TOEFL lecture mainly concern?
a) The archaeological record found in New England shipwrecks
b) The rules for a game that the students are going to play
c) The leading causes of shipwrecks off the coast of New England
d) The role of the State Archaeological Society
4. What is the main purpose of this discussion?
a) To compare regressive and progressive taxes
b) To explain the need fo a new sales tax
c) To discuss the concept of income tax
d) To contrast direct and indirect taxation
5. What is the main topic of this discussion?
a) Edward Hopper’s early career as a commercial artist
b) A style of movie making called film noir
c) Edward Hopper’s realistic, bleak style of painting
d) Edward Hopper’s influence on other painters
6. What is the class mainly discussing?
a) Government regulation and self-regulation in the advertising industry
b) A court decision that affected advertising for children in Sweden
c) The problems that a ban on advertising caused the tobacco industry
d) A negative advertising campaign designed to prevent people from smoking
7. What is the main point of this lecture?
a) To compare the characters of Greek epic poetry and those of modern novels
b) To discuss why the professor enjoys the Iliad more than the Odyssey
c) To contrast the main characters of the Iliad and the main character of the Odyssey
d) To explain why the professor is going to have to change the syllabus
8. What is the main subject of this lecture?
a) The failures of the United Nations
b) The historical role of the League of Nations
c) The origins of World War II
d) The forgotten successes of the League of Nations
9. What is the main idea of this lecture?
a) Despite certain advantages, there are any problems involved in the use of hot dry rock technology.
b) Hot dry rock technology is too expensive to ever be used as a practical energy source.
c) The main purpose of hot dry rock technology is to provide pure, clean water.
d) hot dry rock is a potentially important alternative source of energy.
This is one of the best ESL resources I’ve stumbled upon in a while. Australia Network’s Learn English site has video courses for all types of English learners. There’s an IELTS course, a Business English course, a vodcast, and much more. They also have downloadable study guides and activity sheets.