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ETS responds to criticism over TOEFL iBT

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) who runs the TOEFL 'Test of English as a Foreign Language', has recently received a swathe of criticism following the introduction of a new method of Internet-based testing.

The new TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) replaced the existing computer and paper tests in the US in September 2005 and in Canada, France, Germany and Italy in October 2005. The transition to the new system caused many problems, exacerbated by its introduction in countries where the demand for the test is exceptionally high. The time needed to get the new test centres ready for testing was much longer than anticipated. Together with the complete cancellation of the previous testing methods, this resulted in many students experiencing huge delays. For some students this meant missing out on applying for universities - in the US and internationally. Critics have called for a delay the introduction of TOEFL iBT in over 100 countries, planned for next month.

In an official letter to education professionals, ETS has now responded to the harsh criticism. While emphasizing, the overall good quality of the new test and the necessity of the reform, the company recognised that there were “problems that affected students’ ability to test at the center of their choice (…) [mostly] related to miscommunication, new center procedures and training of supervisors”. Further, ETS reassured educational officers and students that they had taken steps to provide additional access to TOEFL:

  • Offer additional TOEFL iBT test dates;
  • Add new test sites regularly;
  • Use non-traditional testing sites if needed;
  • Offer the paper-based version in selected cities in France, Italy and the US, where TOEFL iBT has already been introduced
  • Introduce the new test in selected cities, while maintaing the current version of the test in other locations.
Educational Testing Service