TOEFL-iBT is driving foreign students away from US Universities

Written by Le Tien Dung on .

TOEFL iBTSince 2005, the ETS ([[Education Testing Service]]) has been introducing the TOEFL test in a new format which is the internet-based TOEFL test (TOEFL-iBT). In the new format, test takers are required to participate in a new part which evaluates their spoken English skills.

This new implementation is thought to address the odd fact that many foreign students are unable to communicate properly when reported at their Universities, despite the fact that their scores met the requirement levels which is thought to be sufficient to communicate in the academic settings or classrooms.

Although the internet-based [[TOEFL]] test provides test takers with more flexibility in terms of time and places, the part to evaluate spoken English skills is really troublesome for many test takers. Even the teachers who help the students to prepare for the test also do not know how to address the questions properly and correctly.


As the results of the implementation of the new TOEFL-iBT test, many of my friends, Vietnameses and non-Vietnameses alike, now decided to take the alternate, the [[IELTS]]. Since most of US Universities do not rely on IELTS to evaluate student's English ability, those who decide to take [[IELTS]] have very limited options if they would like to applying to the US University, in fact, the majority have to look for their opportunity at non-US Universities.

I believe it will take a while for the community of test takers and their helpers to adapt to the new [[TOEFL]]-iBT test. In the meantime, US educational Institutions are being limited to a smaller pool of prospective students, especially graduate students who are always in need. There are many academically outstanding students among those who decided to take [[IELTS]] test instead of the new TOEFL-iBT test. It is obvious that those who take the alternate ([[IELTS]]) are not looking for their opportunity at US Universities. I personally think this is a loss for US research community. To avoid this, they may have practicing a better flexibility in accessing the students' English ability, including considering IELTS as an accepted method of evaluation (together with TOEFL), lowering the accepting scores of [[TOEFL-iBT]] for those students proven to be accademically outstanding!

Disclamers: This is my own (Dung Le) personal view on the issue, TOEFL and iBT-TOEFL is the registered trademark of the ETS. Comments are welcome!

Further readings

1- TOEFL-iBT score scale

2- TOEFL-iBT score set by Universities