Every student aspires to get education from a reputed institute or college of his/her choice. And if that institute happens to be in a different country then the admission to that institute becomes a challenge. As education has become global and more and more students plan to study in the institutes which are located in the countries other than their own, the problem of testing the educational level of such students becomes an important task. If these students are from non-native English speaking countries and are seeking admission in English speaking countries, along with the other qualifications, the test of English language becomes very important. TOEFL testing is a procedure in which ETS (Education Testing Service), which is the organizing authority of TOEFL, conducts test for such students all round the year on specified dates. The score obtained in this TOEFL testing is valid for two years and in approximately six thousand institutes and in more than a hundred countries.

TOEFL Testing Aim

The aim of TOEFL testing is to verify your efficiency in the English language and also to find out if you are capable enough to adjust yourself to the academic environment in English speaking countries. It is to test whether you will be able to understand the lectures and communicate with the teachers and fellow students in the institute which you intend to join. TOEFL testing tests all the four skills of English language. The four sections of the exam which are named after the four skills test the integrated skills as well as the four skills individually.

TOEFL testing is presently being conducted in two formats namely iBT or internet based test and PBT or paper based test. Initially TOEFL testing was started with PBT which was soon joined by CBT or Computer based Testing. iBT, which was introduced in 2005 has been replacing CBT and PBT in most parts of the world. Although CBT has been completely stopped, PBT is still being continued in some countries. If you wish to appear for TOEFL you are required to register with ETS. The registration can be done online, by mail or on phone. The fee for registration for TOEFL is US $140-$150, depending on your country and the format of the exam which you wish to undertake. The score card of TOEFL contains the total score, section wise score and the remarks of the examiner about the topics of discussion and the other details. The score card is valid for two years and can be used by you for admission to any institutes or colleges which accept the score. You can also reappear in the speaking and writing sections to improve your present TOEFL score. There is a comparison chart to compare the score of iBT and PBT formats of the exam.

There are a large number of books and tutorials available that you can use for your preparation of TOEFL. There is an official guide and also an online practice web site by ETS itself that can prove to be very helpful.

TOEFL Testing

Though TOEFL testing has been in existence for 25 years and a large number of institutes and colleges use TOEFL score as a criterion to judge the students knowledge of English language, at the same time there are people who still do not consider TOEFL testing to be the correct test of English. There are institutes that have started their own test of English or a special test in a particular skill after the student has qualified TOEFL. This kind of initiative from some of the institutes does bring out the weaknesses in the TOEFL testing. Let us discuss some of the arguments in favor of and against TOEFL.

Examines all the Skills

As per the people in favor of TOEFL testing, it examines the student for all the basic skills required to know a language. But there are views which argue that TOEFL testing is unable to test the skills as it is possible to fool the test by acquiring techniques and methods to answer the similar types of questions. Also the multiple choice questions give options to the student to choose the correct answer. This might not be the best way of examining the student for a language. Students have been known to handle such questions by employing techniques like the elimination method. In this method students strike out the most unlikely answers and are then left with the correct answer.

Common Platform

The supporters of this testing pattern also claim that it provides a common platform to students from varying backgrounds and different countries. Yes, that is true but it discriminates between a student who has computer knowledge and provides him an edge over the person who is a computer illiterate. It is not fair to mix the two fields and provide an edge to one student over the other. Also it is not possible to gain good computer skills and typing skills in the short time available for the preparation for TOEFL.

High Cost

The cost of US $140 or $150 is very high for many students in non-native English speaking countries. Although the cost includes reporting of the score to four institutes of your choice, the charges for additional reporting of score or late registration are very high. Also there are separate charges for change of date or re scoring of the Speaking and Writing sections. These small charges along with the high cost of coaching classes, tutorials and books can become a heavy burden on a student taking the test.

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