Is the TOEIC Test the One for You?

ETS, Educational Testing Systems, has long been the largest company producing tests in the U.S. for years. The names, TOEFL, or now, iBTOEFL, are perhaps the best-known tests of English proficiency in the U.S. despite considerable gains made in recent years by the IELTS test. Most international students know that the iBTOEFL is a test that measures an individual’s ability to use and understand English and that the results are required by universities prior to a student’s gaining admission. Some international students also know about the TOEIC produced by ETS and these students come chiefly from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and Europe. Most of these individuals see the test as very critical for their futures but not necessarily like the TOEFL.

So what is the TOEIC? The acronym stands for the Test of English for International Communication and it is aimed towards individuals who need to prove their level in English for their company or their organization or when applying for a job.

The test was developed after the Japanese decided they needed a better test than the national test used at the time (the 1970s) which was administered under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. In partnership with ETS, the TOEIC was developed to fill this critical need. Initially it consisted of a listening, grammar and reading section. In 2006 that was reorganized into listening and reading sections only with aspects of the old grammar section within the reading section. Moreover, the listening section added an array of speakers with American, British, Australian and North American English accents and a number of speakers for whom English is their second language but who speak English clearly. In 2007, a speaking and a writing section were added to the TOEIC in Japan and since 2009 these have been available in the U.S. at some locations.

Topics in the test are distinctly business themed: situations involving office and employee issues, giving presentations, problem solving and many others that make the TOEIC quite different from the TOEFL. In spite of this, there are some colleges and universities that will accept the TOEIC as well as the TOEFL and the IELTS. You will need to check with the admissions office at the college or university where you are applying to see if the TOEIC is accepted.

Go to the ETS website at to conveniently find locations where you can take the TOEIC, apply to take the test and get other detailed information about the makeup of the test including the research that goes into the test’s creation. BridgeEnglish in Denver offers the test one time per month. Check the ETS website for costs and dates.