How TOEFL iBT differs from earlier versions of TOEFL?
TOEFL (The Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test used to assess a student’s ability to understand and use English as it is used in a North American academic setting. Universities in the US and several other countries use a student’s TOEFL score to determine his or her eligibility for admission into their courses. The TOEFL is created and administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service), a private, not-for-profit Princeton based company.
Until 1998, the TOEFL was a paper based test. The paper-based TOEFL had a section on English sentence structure. The problem with the paper-based test was that it was not adequate enough to measure a student’s language proficiency. For example, a student might do well on the sentence structure test, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is capable of writing a coherent essay. In the same way, it would be wrong to assume that a student who has a large vocabulary has good reading comprehension skills. And therefore ETS felt that they needed to change TOEFL.
The computer based TOEFL was introduced in 1998. It still had some features of the Paper-based test, but it also included direct skill testing. For example, it continued to have a section on sentence structures; it also required students to write an actual essay.
The internet based TOEFL or TOEFL iBT launched in 2005. It doesn’t have any discrete-point testing. Instead it directly measures a student’s ability to use English to communicate. It tests all four basic language skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing.
Students who haven’t had much opportunity to use English to communicate might find the TOEFL iBT more difficult than the previous versions of TOEFL. But they have to understand that the new version of TOEFL will better equip them with all the skills they need to pursue higher education at a US university. Of course, they will need to work harder to crack the test, but all that hard work will ultimately pay off in the form of better academic grades.