TOEFL PROGRAM

TOEFL PROGRAM

The TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The TOEFL is currently administered in 185 countries, making it the most accessible test in the world. Almost one million students register to take the TOEFL every year. More than 10,000 institutions and agencies in more than 150 countries accept TOEFL scores to evaluate the English proficiency of people whose native language is not English. The admissions committees of colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and many other countries require that foreign applicants submit TOEFL scores along with transcripts and recommendations in order to be considered for admission. In addition, many government, licensing, and certification agencies and exchange and scholarship programs worldwide use TOEFL scores to assess the English language skills of people for whom English is not their native language. Finally, many multinational corporations and even those Moldovan companies that work with foreign partners would like to see the TOEFL scores of their job applicants in order to measure the ability of the latter to use and understand English.

The TOEFL Program was launched in 1962 when the National Council on the Testing of English as a Foreign Language was formed. Its members were representatives of more than 30 private organizations and government agencies concerned with the English proficiency of nonnative speakers of English who wished to study at colleges and universities in the United States. The council supported the development of the TOEFL for use starting in 1963-1964. Financed by grants from the Ford and Danforth Foundations, the TOEFL Program was first administered by the Modern Language Association. In 1965, the College Board and Educational Testing Service (ETS) assumed joint responsibility for the program. Because many who take the TOEFL are potential graduate students, a cooperative arrangement for the operation of the program was entered into by ETS, the College Board, and the Graduate Record Examinations Board in 1973. Under this arrangement, ETS is responsible for administering the TOEFL program with guidance from the TOEFL Board.

The test originally contained five sections. As a result of extensive research, a three-section test measuring listening comprehension, structure and written expression, and reading comprehension was developed and introduced in 1976. In July 1995, the test item format was modified somewhat within the same three-section structure.

Throughout the 1990s, various constituencies called for a new TOEFL that would (1) be more reflective of communicative competence models; (2) include more constructed-response tasks and direct measures of writing and speaking; (3) include tasks that integrate the language modalities tested; and (4) provide more information than the paper-based TOEFL (TOEFL PBT) about the ability of international students to use English in an academic environment. Accordingly, the TOEFL Board initiated a broad effort under which language testing will evolve in the twenty-first century. The introduction of the computer-based TOEFL (TOEFL CBT) in July 1998 was the first incremental step in this broad test-improvement effort.

The next step was the introduction of an Internet-based version of the TOEFL (TOEFL iBT) in September 2005. The test was first administered in the United States on September 24, 2005. In October 2005, it began in Canada, France, Germany, and Italy. Since then, the TOEFL iBT has been rolled out worldwide. The test assesses all 4 language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) that are important for effective communication. The TOEFL iBT emphasizes integrated skills and provides better information to institutions about students' ability to communicate in an academic setting and their readiness for academic coursework. As the TOEFL iBT was introduced in an area, the TOEFL CBT was discontinued after a period of overlap in order to ensure a smooth transition to the TOEFL iBT. The final administration of the TOEFL CBT was held in September 2006. The TOEFL PBT continued to be offered on a limited basis to support the TOEFL iBT testing network.

The last TOEFL PBT was administered in Chișinău on May 13, 2006. The computer-based TOEFL was never administered in our country. The administration of TOEFL iBT in Moldova started on September 23, 2006. The Internet-based TOEFL is administered at 3 ETS-certified test centers in Chișinău at least once a month. To get a schedule of times and test centers, visit the Test Takers section of the TOEFL website or ask your TOEFL instructor.

On November 1, 2011, ETS introduced timing and navigation enhancements to the TOEFL iBT Reading section. In response to test takers' feedback about the length of the section, ETS decreased the maximum number of reading passages from 5 to 4. Test takers now had either 60 minutes to complete 3 reading passages and questions or 80 minutes to complete 4 reading passages and questions. In addition, the Reading section was no longer divided into separately timed parts. Instead, all of the reading passages and questions were made available in a single block of time. This change allowed test takers to pace themselves throughout the entire Reading section. It also allowed navigating within the entire Reading section so that test takers could skip questions, go back to review and change responses, or respond to questions that they might have skipped.

Beginning in March 2013, the Listening and Speaking sections of the TOEFL iBT test may include other native-speaker English accents in addition to accents from North America. In the Speaking section, only question 1 of the 4 tasks, which is the only Independent Speaking question, may have accented speech. Test takers may hear accents from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, or Australia. ETS added these accents to better reflect the variety of native English accents that you may encounter while studying abroad.

In 2017, the TOEFL PBT was discontinued and replaced by the revised TOEFL Paper-delivered Test, which is offered up to 4 times a year in areas where testing via the Internet is not available. The first administration of the revised test was held on October 14, 2017. The revised test measures 3 skills using the same types of questions as on the TOEFL iBT test: Reading, Listening, and Writing. Speaking is not measured because it cannot be accommodated on a paper-delivered test. Because the revised TOEFL Paper-delivered Test is more closely aligned to the TOEFL iBT test, the revised paper-delivered scores are reported on the TOEFL iBT score scale, eliminating the previous TOEFL PBT score scale of 310-677. The scores are reported 5 weeks after the test date.

On August 1, 2019, ETS started to administer a shorter TOEFL iBT test, enhanced score reporting, and made the registration process easier. TOEFL iBT test time was shortened by 30 minutes, to just 3 hours, with no changes to the overall test format or question types. The shorter test has fewer questions in the Reading, Listening, and Speaking sections. The Reading section now has only 10 questions per passage instead of 12-14. The Listening section now has one or two fewer lectures. No question types were eliminated from the Reading and Listening sections. Independent question #1 (express a personal preference) and integrated question #5 (campus situation; problem/solution) were removed from the Speaking section. The remaining questions were renumbered 1 to 4 in the shortened version. For test takers, the shorter TOEFL iBT test makes for a better testing experience. It lessens fatigue and improves focus and performance, helping them to show their best.

On August 1, 2019, ETS also introduced a new feature called MyBest scores, which combines test takers' best scores for each section from all of their valid TOEFL iBT scores in the last 2 years. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, and MyBest scores give test takers a way to show their best overall test performance. Test takers do not have to do anything to take advantage of this feature. All TOEFL iBT score reports sent after August 1, 2019, regardless of the test administration date, automatically include MyBest scores along with the traditional scores from selected test dates.