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Are you getting ready to test your English skills but are not sure whether or not to take the TOEFL iBT or the TOEIC? The following is a comparison of the TOEFL iBT and the TOEIC, followed by an explanation about the nature of the TOEIC as well as what areas TOEIC does not assess that are important to TOEFL iBT and academic programs.
TOEIC and the TOEFL iBT
Since the TOEIC is used to assess business English and the TOEFL iBT is used to assess English for Academic purposes, a comparison of the two tests should help to clarify why the TOEIC is not as suitable for intensive English programs as is the TOEFL iBT.
Since thousands of universities use this test to make important decisions such as admissions, scholarships, and decisions regarding graduate study and since millions of students take this test so that they can enter respected universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, the TOEFL iBT is an important test. Moreover, whether it is passed or not will determine acceptance into an undergraduate or graduate program.
Like the TOEFL iBT, millions of people take the TOEIC test. However, unlike the TOEFL iBT, TOEIC test scores are used by more than 8,000 businessses, educational institutions, and governments when making decisions about recruiting, hiring, and promoting the most qualified candidates for jobs in which English is the primary language of communciation. Originally, the TOEIC started in Japan, but its use has spread to many other Asian countries as well as Europe and South America. In fact, in addition to corporate clients worldwide, many graduating seniors also take the TOEIC since corporations require it.
Administered at thousands of designated locations throughout the world, the TOEFL iBT consists of reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It takes about 4 1/2 hours to complete, and a 10 minute break is given after the listening section. The cost is approximately $150. Note-taking is allowed on all parts.
The TOEIC is also administered at thosuands of designated locations throughout the world, but it consists of listening and reading sections, with a new speaking and writing section as supplements to the existing product lines. It takes approximately two hours to complete, and no breaks are allowed during the test. Depending on what type of package a test-taker purchases, it will cost a test taker between $80-$100. Note-taking is not allowed during any part of the test.
The reading section of the TOEFL iBT takes 60-100 minutes and has three 750 word academic passages, with 36-70 questions measuring the test-taker’s ability of comprehension and analysis. Main idea, detail, inference, rhetoric, vocabulary, paraphrase, charts, and schematic tables are examples of reading questions on the TOEFL iBT.
Totaling 100 questions with a time limit of 75 minutes, the reading section of the TOEIC consists of four parts: 40 incomplete sentence questions in which a test taker must choose the answer that best completes the sentence; 12 text completion questions in which a test taker must choose the best word or phrase to complete a reading passage; 7-10 single reading passages with a total of 28 questions in which the test taker answers questions; and four pairs of reading texts with 5 questions each.
The listening section takes 60-90 minutes and has two conversations (3-5 minutes long) and four lectures (3 minutes), with 34-51 questions measuring the test-taker’s ability to understand what was heard. The lecture content is either campus-related or academic in nature.
Consisting of approximately 75 questions, the listening section takes 45 minutes and has four parts: photographs, statements, short conversations, and short talks by a single speaker. The listening content is business related.
The speaking section takes 20 minutes and has six speaking tasks. The first two speaking tasks ask a test-taker to either (1) express an opinion on a topic or (2) choose a preference between two choices. The last four speaking tasks require a test-taker (3) to read, listen, and speak in relation to a campus-related topic; (4) to read, listen, and speak in relation to an academic-related topic; (5) to listen and speak in relation to a campus-related topic; and finally (6) to listen and speak in relation to an academic-related topic. The test-taker is given 15-30 seconds to prepare and 45-60 seconds to give the responses.
Like the TOEFL iBT, the TOEIC speaking test takes 20 minutes. However, instead of 6 speaking tasks, the TOEIC has 11: read a text aloud (2 questions), describe a picture (1 question), respond to questions (3), respond to questions using information from a reading passage (3 questions), propose a solution based on a listening task (1), and express an opinion (1 question). The test taker is allotted 15-45 seconds to prepare reponses to the business-related speaking tasks and 15-60 seconds to speak.
The writing section, taking 50 minutes, has two tasks. In the first writing task, a test-taker is given 30 minutes to write 300 words on a familiar topic. In the second writing task, a test-taker is given 20 minutes to read, listen, and write 250 words in response to the two academic sources.
The TOEIC writing test lasts an hour and consists of eight questions: write a sentence based on a picture (5 questions), respond to a written request (2 questions), write a 300 word opinion essay (1 question). All topics are business related.
The scores on the TOEFL iBT range from 0 – 120, each section receiving a scaled score from 0 – 30. The scaled scores in the reading and listening sections are based on the number of correct answers. Human raters score the six speaking tasks from 0 – 4, the sum of which are converted into a scaled range from 0-30. Like the speaking section, human raters also score the two writing tasks from 0 – 5, the sum of which are converted into a scaled score of 0-30. Though each university sets its admission policies, generally a total score of 60-61 and 80-81 is seen by many institutions as acceptable for undergraduate or graduate study.
The scores on the TOEIC range from 10 – 990, with the listening and reading sections receiving a scaled score from 5-495. The scaled scores in the reading and listening sections are based on the number of correct answers. According to the TOEIC Web Site, the speaking and writing tests “have been added to the TOEIC product line to complement the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test,” implying that these two additional tests can give businesses, if they so desire, more information about their workers’ ability to use English in the workplace setting.
Human raters score 1-9 speaking tasks on a scale of 0 – 3 and 10-11 speaking tasks on a scale of 0-5; the sum of the ratings are converted into a scaled range of 0-200. The human raters score speaking tasks 1-5 on a scale of 0-3, speaking tasks 6-7 on a scale of 0-4, and speaking task 8 on a scale of 0-5; the sum total of the writing scores are covnerted into a range of 0-200.
There is no passing or failing on the TOEIC test since not all companies require the same level of international English proficiency. But it should be noted that many companies will set standards and will offer business English training for their employees to meet those standards.
The Nature of the Language Used on the TOEIC: A Recap Unlike the TOEFL iBT, TOEIC assesses neither American English nor British English. Rather it assesses international English in a workplance settting. The TOEIC originated in Japan for that very purpose. The language used in the TOEIC does not use complicated, low frequency, technical vocabulary. Idiomatic expressions and complex grammar structrues are rarely used, and reading passages are short and easy to read. To help understand the nature of the TOEIC, imagine the kind of English that would be used in an international meeting. The English at the meeting would be directed to the audience member with the least level of English proficiency. And that is the type of English seen on the TOEIC. What Areas Does TOEIC Not Assess that Are Important for TOEFL iBT and Academic Programs? Reading Areas Not Assessed by TOEIC
1. Complicated, low frequency vocabulary and complex grammar of long academic reading passages
2. Understanding the most important points of academic reading passages.
3. Understanding the relative importance of ideas of long academic texts
4. Organizing or outlining the important ideas and concepts in academic texts.
5. Understanding how the ideas in an academic English text relate to each other
6. Understanding charts and graphs of academic reading passages
7. Quickly finding information in academic texts
8. Understanding academic texts well enough to answer questions about them later
9. Figuring out the meaning of complicated words by using the context and background knowledge
Writing Areas Not Assessed by TOEIC
1. Actively listening and taking notes of the main ideas and critical supporting points of academic lectures and reading passages 2. Using notes, and then coherently and accurately writing an essay, showing how academic reading passages and academic lectures are related.
3. To avoid plagiarism, understanding how to summarize, paraphrase, and directly quote relevant material from academic lectures and academic reading passages.
4. Demonstrating the ability to write in formal academic English depending on the purpose and the reader
Listening Areas Not Assessed by TOEIC
1. Understanding directions about assignments and due dates from college professors
2. Understanding the main ideas of academic lectures, academic discussions, and campus-related conversations1. Using notes to coherently and accurately speak as to how academic reading passages and lectures are related.
3. Understanding the relationships among ideas in a lecture 4. Recognizing which points in a lecture are important and which are are less important 5. Understanding important facts and details of lectures and conversations Speaking Areas Not Assessed by TOEIC 1. Using notes to coherently and accurately speak as to how academic reading passages and lectures are related.
2. Coherently and accurately speaking about the main idea and critical supporting points of lectures.
3. Demonstrating high intelligibility by avoiding awkward pauses and major difficulties in pronunciation, intonation, and word stress.
4. Having good control of basic and complex grammatical structures, having appropriate word choice including formal usage, and making only minor errors which do not obscure meaning
To sum up, if you want a test to showcase your business English skills, the TOEIC will be your better choice. Conversely, if you want to gain entrance into a university in which English will be the language of instruction, the TOEFL iBT will be your better choice. Good luck.
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