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Educational Testing Service Begins New TOEFL Test

I’m Shep O'Neal with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Last month, the Educational Testing Service began using a new TOEFL. TOEFL is the widely used Test of English as a Foreign Language. It already measured the ability to read, write and understand English. The new test does more to bring these skills together, and also measures speaking ability.

The TOEFL examination is used by more than five thousand colleges and universities around the world. About seven hundred fifty thousand people took the test last year. American schools generally require it of foreign students seeking admission.

E.T.S. officials say the new test better measures how well students are able to communicate in English. Skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking are tested in combination. There are questions where test takers must read, listen and then speak their answer. Or just listen and speak. Or read, listen and then write their answer to the question.

The students speak into a microphone. Three to six examiners will listen to the recorded answers.

Experts have long said that one of the major required abilities for attending college in the United States is speaking English well. Many times, foreign students have earned high scores on the TOEFL but have had problems at school because they could not speak in class.

The new test is called TOEFL "iBT," for Internet-based test. E.T.S. officials say it is the first major test of English to be given over the Internet.

Students have already taken the new TOEFL at testing centers in the United States. It will be given on October twenty-second in Canada, France, Germany and Italy. It will come into use in testing centers in other parts of the world next year.

E.T.S. officials say they expect the new test to change how English is taught around the world. News reports say many Asian students are worried about the new test. Their English teachers prepare them mainly to read and write, not speak.

Companies are already offering preparation materials for the new Internet-based TOEFL. Educational Testing Service offers a free practice test on its TOEFL Web site. The address is

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports can be found online at I’m Shep O'Neal.