English Exam Overviews: The TOEIC

toeic_logo_thumb_200While it is often confused with the similar-sounding TOEFL, the TOEIC is an English proficiency exam designed to meet the needs English students of a different sort. Indeed, unlike its sound-alike cousin, the Test of English for International Communication is, at its heart, designed not for students but for working professionals.

What is the TOEIC and what makes it unique?
The fact that the TOEIC is designed “to determine who can communicate effectively in English across borders and cultures with coworkers and clients” is not the only thing that makes the TOEIC unique. Indeed, though the TOEIC – like most other English proficiency assessments – also measures the ability of test takers to read, write, speak, and listen to English, the TOEIC accomplishes this feat using not one test but two. While most test takers do take both the “Listening and Reading” exam as well as the “Speaking and Writing” exam, it is not mandatory and individual organizations set their own standards. Because listening and reading are both passive tasks, the Listening and Reading test is comprised of multiple-choice questions. Because, on the other hand, speaking and writing are both active tasks, the newer Speaking and Writing exam is a computer-based test that assesses a candidate’s abilities using free response questions.

How is the TOEIC scored?
The two TOEIC exams have two different scoring systems. Each of the two sections on the Listening & Reading Test is assessed on a scale from 5 to 495 with possible total scores between 10 and 990 falling into one of five color-coded certificate ranges. By contrast, the scores from each section of the Speaking and Writing Test (which can be taken either singly or together) are measured individually on a scale from 0-200 and grouped into one of eight proficiency levels.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
Because it is a product of the same Education Testing Service (ETS) that administers the TOEFL, students can take both sections TOEIC at a large number of testing centers around the world. For more information about specific places and times, see their official page.


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