Five more reasons to hate ETS

I got a bit of a rise out of someone (probably) associated with ETS, the people responsible for the language teaching travesties that are TOEFL and TOEIC, last time I laid into them. So, let’s see if we can’t carry on annoying them until they actually decide to produce a decent test. And this time no effort at all is needed, because the boot has been totally put into them by someone writing for Humanizing Language Teaching, of all places. She is a non-native but super qualified English teacher who decided to give the test a try so she would better understand what her students were going through. And this is what she found:

“in the iBT if… one sneezes when a question is being asked, he/she will miss his/her chances of answering the question”

“The reason for giving such a short time for answering the speaking questions is unclear to me. Who would only talk for 45 seconds about a topic of general interest?”

“You are not allowed to eat or drink during the test; therefore, I was hungry, thirsty and very tired.”

“Some of the reading passages were really uninteresting and I was bored to death reading them.”

“I assume one of the intentions of the new version of TOEFL is to create a situation as close as possible to the real life of a university student, but I do not again see how it is achieved through such a long test. In no real situation that at least I can think of, is a student required to deal with so many different reading and listening passages on different subjects in one go.”

From here.

This entry was posted in ETS, HLT magazine, TOEFL, TOEIC. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Five more reasons to hate ETS

  1. Teflista says:

    Would that be the ‘Evil Testing Service” and do they sell stock? One point the author left out was the price of these tests. It’s not only the TOEFL, but I believe that ETS has dented the wallets of just about every college bound student and teacher in America – what a rip off. Let’s see… I’ve paid them for a couple of PSATs, SATs, GREs, special subject guides and the National Teacher Exam — a small fortune!

    Some related reading here:

    Forget the North Korean nuclear crisis. What has many South Koreans in an uproar these days is the “Toefl crisis.”

  2. I do a lot of tutoring for TOEFL (speaking and writing in particular) and also make my own practice tests for students to use online in preparation for the test.

    To be honest, it’s a bit of a wacky test. I wrote a fullish analysis of the different questions in the speaking section here, based around trying to determine how close they are to the “real deal” when it comes to speaking English in a college/university setting:

    See what you make of it…


    ~ Jason

  3. Alex Case says:

    Don’t know anything about the fellows that sent me this press release, but as they are offering our students cash that they can pay our wages with and they seem to planning some competition to ETS, thought it might be worth a mention:

    “ALTA Language Services is looking for intermediate to advanced learners of the English language to help launch reading and listening proficiency tests for a private organization.

    The ideal candidates will be university students with current (within the last year) TOEFL scores starting at 200 for the computer-based TOEFL, 533 for the paper-based TOEFL, and 15 for the internet-based TOEFL.

    ALTA will pay each test-taker a flat rate of $50 to complete both the reading and listening tests. After taking the tests, we will ask you to complete a short survey about your experience taking the test. All information will be kept confidential.

    We expect each test to consist of approximately 80 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers may complete the examinations online, on any computer with an Internet connection. When the testing period begins in early February, the tests will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Please note we are not looking for native speakers of the language, but rather speakers who have either been taking ESL courses or learning the language through self-study.

    If this description fits a student or colleague of yours, please get them in touch with the project’s director Jocelyn Echevarria,

  4. Ssalah h says:

    what are the weaknesses and the strengthnesses of TOEFL test

  5. costcommentor says:

    Yes, there cost are too much. I did not take this test but took the GRE and it costs $24 to send my scores and $2 for two of my college transcripts. There is also the issue of why they cost so much. I recently applied to ETS, had to go through an external headhunter, then was suppose to interview with an internal headhunter for an hour that use to be an external headhunter, then with two directors for an hour and a half before even being handed to anyone in IT, the position I was applying for. I didn’t want to have to go through all that along with driving 45 minutes and wasting all that gas. My point is that there seems to be a significant amount of waste within this company not to mention the high executive salaries. I was going to re-take the GRE but now will not since they are so free to waste test taker fees so frivolously. None of the schools I am looking at don’t need a score since I am already half way through a master’s with 4.0 average in computer science. If a computer science program needs a vocabulary and writing test score, let them admit an English Lit major.

  6. Nicholas Rion says:

    Has anyone mentioned that the TOEFL test might get you KILLED if you do not pass it? I was recently informed that the Iraqi Government requires students who receive government scholarships to “post” a type of collateral with the government. In many cases the form of this collateral is the prospective students parents home, property, or wages. In one extreme case an entire village posted various kinds of personal property to under write one of their locally gifted students travel to America and learn English–with the hope of entering an American university. WHAT IS THE CATCH? DOESN’T THIS SEEM REASONABLE? Well, in most cases the Iraqi Government only allows students one year to complete a language course successfully and pass the TEOFL. If the student fails to achieve this often insurmountable goal within the one year period their scholarship is terminated, the student is required to return to Iraq, and worst of all–THE GOVERNMENT WILL COME AND COLLECT THE COLLATERAL. For one poor student this was virtually a death sentence. Angry villagers and relatives sought retribution from the student and the poor young man had to flee his home in fear of his life………

    I honestly believe that TOEFL is knowingly complicit in situations that could well lead to students deaths….!!!! I ask anyone who has heard of similar horror stories to contact me at I believe it is time to call for an investigation of the entire language testing industry and seek new government regulations to ban this activity post haste. I call on universities to reject the TOEFL test as a requirement for entry and take back this power and determine who is eligible on a case by case basis–taking into consideration the individual humanity of every student in the world. Together we can STOP THIS LANGUAGE IMPERIALISM AND DEATH SENTENCE….

  7. Tdol says:

    This is about governance and corruption in Iraq and jumping to the conclusion that ETS are ‘knowingly complicit’ is straight out of conspiracy theory.

    I did like the way one story becomes plural and ends up as a generalised death sentence, written in capital letters to really prove your point. And an honest belief beats evidence every time for me. Dave Spart wouldn’t sign up for this campaign, comrade.

  8. TEFLista says:

    They can just go to the new American University of Iraq:

  9. sb says:

    Hate ETS! I do not understand why this stupid exam is super expensive!!!!

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