How often TOEFL exam format gets updated?

Certification: TOEFL - Test of English as Foreign Language

TOEFL is one of the most widely recognized tests for English Language. It is a prerequisite for admission in many great universities around the world. In fact, it is the world’s most recognized test which over 9000 colleges and universities require before giving admission to a candidate. Furthermore, it is also recognized in more than 130 countries worldwide; including USA, UK, Australia and Canada. If you want to pursue your higher education in the prestigious universities in one of these countries, you must take the TOEFL exam to demonstrate your proficiency in English. A survey of the admission officers of some great universities showed that out of every 5 officers, 4 preferred TOEFL in order to judge the English language skills of the students.

The tests by TOEFL comprise of 100% academic content due to which they are highly admired and appreciated. However, the difficulty level of TOEFL is extremely high. This is the reason why it is advised to prepare well for this test to confirm that the candidate gets good marks. The test assesses the abilities and skills of the candidate from different angles to ensure that his English skills are checked properly. In this regard, it is essential to make use of all the available resources to do the best preparation.

TOEFL Exam is considered as one of the most stable exams in the world. There have been very few changes in the format of the TOEFL exam. In fact, it has one been changed 3 times since it was started in 1964. This is the reason why TOEFL is considered as one of the most reliable sources for assessing the English language skills of the candidates. From 1964 to 1998, the format used for TOEFL had been the same and the tests were all Paper-based tests. This was the highest amount of time during which there was no change in the format. However, the next change was a bit sooner, in 2005. In this year, the TOEFL Computer-based tests were introduced. However, the next change was even sooner, in 2007, when the whole system of TOEFL tests was shifted to Internet-based Tests. This format has been used since 2007 and is still in use today. This shows that initially the changes in the format was slow, but recently we saw some abrupt changes from Computer-based tests to Internet-based tests.

Let us have a look at all of these three formats individually.

Paper-Based Tests

Paper-Based tests make use of the oldest format administered by TOEFL. This is the first format which was used when the TOEFL exams came into being. These tests included 4 different sections; reading, writing, listening and speaking. You should know that the listening and speaking section was administered by a professional instructor who gave you certain lectures which you had to note down to answer the questions later. In fact, in some of the developing countries of the world, this format is still in use. As far as the questions are concerned, they were mostly related to answering the comprehensions. The students also had to write an essay in the exam to show their writing skills. This format was widely used until 1998, when the computer-based tests were introduced.

Computer-Based Tests

Computer-based tests were introduced in 1988, replacing the Paper-based tests. These tests were conducted in special examination centers on computers. The candidates had to answer merely Multiple-choice questions other than writing the essay. The main cause of this change was to shift towards a more modern form of testing which will be much quicker. In this regard, the most important change in this test was that the listening and speaking section was now handled by the computer. Yes, this meant that the computer conducted the speaking section using the speakers and then also conducted the listening section by using voice recognition. In addition to this, this method of testing was also much more secure than the previous one. However, these tests only remained for 6 to 7 years and were soon replaced by the most modern Internet-based tests.

Internet-Based Tests

The internet-based tests are the most modern tests which are even used today in many countries to conduct the TOEFL exam. These tests went a step further and allowed the candidates to take the tests online, hence submitting the answers directly to the TOEFL database. This format has been quite useful as now the exam details could be processed in the least amount of time. In addition to this, there was also a slight change in the format of questions which were asked in the exam. Most of the content was the same, but the format was changed to improvise the test and make it more competitive for the candidates. The main change in the format was the changes in question numbers, questions types, number of sections etc.

In this test, the listening and speaking section is also administered by the computer. The total duration of the exam varies from 3 hours and 10 minutes to 4 hours and 20 minutes. This variation in the time is because the reading section can vary from 60 to 100 minutes while the listening section can vary from 60 to 90 minutes depending on the orientation of the exam. The time for the Speaking and Writing section are constant, however,

TOEFL has dedicated itself to provide the best source of evaluating the skills of the candidates. This is the reason why there have been changes in the test formats over the years. However, these changes were quite slow and were carried out gradually. This is the reason why TOEFL is considered to be one of the most reliable tests in the world. By this, we can conclude that the TOEFL exam format does not change much often.

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