Archive for the ‘news’ Category

New TOEFL competitor – the PTE Academic

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Pearson, the publisher of The Economist magazine, has just launched a brand new English proficiency exam, which they are hoping will grow to be as popular as the TOEFL is today. The new exam is called the Pearson Test of English (PTE). There are three forms of the new exam. The one that will interest TOEFL students the most is the PTE Academic. Already over 500 universities, including top ones like Yale, have announced that they will accept PTE Academic scores from international students. In addition to the academic exam, there is also a PTE General, and a PTE for Young Learners.

The first PTE Academic will be administered in India in November 2009. Of course, since it is such a new exam, there is hardly any material to help one study for it. The TOEFL has been around for a long, long time. Even the current version, the TOEFL iBT, has been around for years now, so there are a lot of text books, sample exams, and free internet resources like this one to help one study for the it. It will take some time for this amount of material to appear for the new PTE Academic.

The problem with TOEFL iBT

Friday, September 12th, 2008

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?

TOEFL iBT scores for Chinese students go up

Friday, June 6th, 2008

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.

Is IELTS becoming more popular than TOEFL?

Friday, November 9th, 2007

A British English test is being geared up to attract Korean English learners who are overwhelmed by American English tests, especially TOEFL and TOEIC. Ian Simm, director of the British Council Korea, revealed his marketing plan for IELTS in Korea during a press conference in Seoul.

“Korea was heavily influenced by the United States, and so far people have preferred the U.S. than any other country for studying abroad. There were few institutions in the U.S. that authorized IELTS — this has made people in Korea prefer TOEFL, said Simm.
“Last year, the number of Korean people who took IELTS was around 13,500, far less than those who took TOEFL. However, about 700,000 people took IELTS worldwide, which is similar to the number that took TOEFL, he added.

The British Council plans to double the number of IELTS applicants in Korea up to 20,000 by the end of the year and increase the number to 50,000 by 2010. Under the plan, it has promoted the test to college admission officials and personnel members of 15,000 domestic corporations. Also, it will set up more IELTS courses at private institutes.

Created in 1989, IELTS tests four English language skills — listening, reading, writing and speaking — like TOEFL but it differentiates itself with the speaking and writing test which are given by an examiner.

“I believe that the IELTS score has much more to do with practical English. As I told you earlier, since those who take the speaking exams have to sit face to face with the speaking examiner, IELTS is the best way to improve your English in every day lives.”