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Test of English as a Foreign Language

Test Name: Test of English as a Foreign Language
Publisher: Educational Testing Service
Publication Date: 1992
Test Type: Language Proficiency
Content: 4 Language Skills
Language: English
Target Population: English Language Learner (ELL)
Grade Level: Adult
Administration Time: Over 90 min
Standardized: Yes
Purpose: Proficiency

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was designed to test the English proficiency of nonnative speakers of English who wish to study at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, but it has also been used by a number of foreign academic institutions, agencies, and governments. It is appropriate for students at the 11th-grade level or higher. It has three sections: 1) Listening Comprehension, in which examinees listen to a recording of North American English and choose one of several response options in the test booklet; 2) Structure and Written Expression, which measures mastery of important structural and grammatical points in standard written English through sentence completion and sentence correction tasks in a multiple-choice format; and 3) Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension, which tests the ability to understand the meanings and uses of words in written English and the ability to understand a variety of reading materials through the use of synonym selection tasks and comprehension questions following a reading passage. The test is given by the Educational Testing Service on Fridays and Saturdays once a month at most test centers, and results are reported to the examinee and up to three institutions specified by the examinee on the answer sheet. Scaled scores are reported for each of the three test sections, but no guidance concerning the meaning of those scores is provided. It is up to the institutions who use the scores to decide how to use them, and it is recommended that scores not be used in isolation for making program acceptance or placement decisions. Instead, the TOEFL can be used to help interpret a student's scores on other standardized tests of admission since language proficiency is the filter through which other abilities are measured. The TOEFL does come with some information on how a variety of institutions surveyed use the scores as well as percentile rankings for different groups such as graduate students and applicants for professional licenses. Reliability of the overall TOEFL score is estimated at .95, and concurrent validity with the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) ranges from .52 to .66 for the subtests of the TOEFL. The TOEFL may be used in conjunction with the Test of Written English (TWE) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE).

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