Read an Excerpt
Chapter One: Taking the TOEIC
What's In This Chapter
- What is the TOEIC?
- An Overview of the Test
- Filling Out Forms
- Kaplan's Key TOEIC Strategies
- General Test Directions
What is the TOEIC? and Other Common Questions
Before we start looking at the questions on the TOEIC, we'll give you some background information about the TOEIC.
What is the TOEIC?
The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is designed to test your ability to understand English as it is used in international business and other professional situations. The TOEIC covers two main areas: your ability to understand real-life conversations in English, and your ability to read materials in English, such as manuals, reports, advertisements, periodicals, correspondence, and technical articles. The language tested on the TOEIC is not specialized language. It is the everyday language that people use in the workplace when talking about their jobs and business and when they are talking to friends or acquaintances about common subject areas such as health, weekend activities, and travel.
Who Produces the TOEIC?
The TOEIC was developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private, not-for-profit corporation located in Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States. ETS is a leading center for educational and psychometric research in the United States and is well known as an organization that prepares and administers a variety of tests for school, college, and graduate program admission as well as occupational and professionalcertification and licensing.
Who Uses the TOEIC?
Corporations and government offices worldwide use the TOEIC for many reasons:
- To assess how well their current employees understand English
- For hiring new employees
- For tracking the progress of employees in English-language training programs
What Kinds of Jobs Use the TOEIC?
Job categories for which the TOIEC has been found useful include desk clerks in hotels, mechanics servicing equipment sold outside the manufacturing country, foreign sales staff, customs officers, managers, bank employees, and secretaries.
When Was the TOEIC Introduced?
The TOEIC was first administered in Japan in 1979. In 1982, it became available in Korea. Since then, the program has expanded its services throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In 1995, more than 933,000 exams were administered throughout the world. The test makers estimate that the total number of TOEIC exams administered annually is about 3 million.
How do the TOEIC and the TOEFL compare?
While the TOEIC and the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) were both developed to test English listening and reading, they differ in their purpose, content, and design.
The TOEFL is designed to determine how well a candidate can use English in colleges and universities in the United States. Its purpose is to identify candidates who can perform successfully in an academic setting. The TOEIC, on the other hand, tests everyday English used in business and beaureaucratic settings.
Content for TOEFL test material is taken from lectures, texts, and documents found in the academic environment. TOEIC materials reflect the needs of people accomplishing work tasks, providing services, communicating with others, traveling and manufacturing and distributing products.
Since the primary purpose of the TOEFL is to identify those students who can perform successfully in an academic environment, it focuses on test takers of intermediate to fluent English language ability. The TOEIC, on the other hand, measures a wider range, from the lowest proficiency level to high professional-level competence.
How and Where is the TOEIC Administered?
The TOEIC is available internationally through two separate programs. Your local representative will help you decide the best way for you to take the test.
Choice 1: Taking the test in an open public session
These sessions are held on selected dates in different locations across the globe. Companies might want to send their employees to an open session test rather than administering the test on their own premises. People who wish to take the test but who are not affiliated with an organization that conducts on-site test administration must take the test at an open public session. Because public sessions are not yet available in every country, test-takers should check with the ETS representative in their countries regarding the availability of these open sessions.
Choice 2: On-site test administration
The TOEIC serves the needs of corporations and government organizations that have a number of people that they want tested at once. On-site tests are administered under secure conditions as they are supervised by both the client organization's staff and by ETS.
Tests that are taken on-site or at an open session are all scored only by ETS or its representatives.
To find out more information about taking the TOEIC via either method, be sure to contact your TOEIC representative. Information on contacting your TOEIC representative can be found at the TOEIC website at ets.org/ell/representative.html.
An Overview of the TOEIC
The TOEIC is a standardized test, meaning that it consists of certain types of multiple-choice questions, is given to a large number of people at the same time, is graded by computer, and is timed. Because we at Kaplan have studied many past TOEICs, we can tell you what form the test will take and the kinds of questions that will appear on the test.
Format and Content
The TOEIC is approximately two hours long and consists of 200 multiple-choice items. If you include the time it takes to fill in the answer sheet and background questions, the test is about two and a half hours long. The test breaks down as on the chart below.
Section One -- Listening Comprehension
Part I Photographs 20 items Part II Question-Response 30 items Part III Short Conversations 30 items Part IV Short Talks 20 items Total 100 items Total Time 45 minutes Total Score 5-495
Section Two -- Reading
Part V Incomplete Sentences 40 items Part VI Error Recognition 20 items Part VII Reading Comprehension 40 items Total Items 100 items Total Time 75 minutes Total Score 5-495
TOEIC Totals (Listening and Reading)
Total Items 200 items Total Time 2.5 hours (includes time for filling out forms)
Total Score 10-990
TOEIC scores are obtained by adding up the total number of correct responses for Listening Comprehension and for Reading. The totals for these two sections are multiplied to arrive at a scaled score of 5 to 495 for each section, with a total score from 10 to 990. These scaled scores allow scores from different TOEIC tests to be compared accurately. (The Practice Test at the back of this book includes a sample score conversion chart, so you can get some idea of how you will score on the actual exam.)
Something to remember when you are looking at your TOEIC score is that there is no failing or passing score for this test. The TOEIC was developed to assess the English proficiency of people who will need to use English in a professional capacity. It does not measure 'achievement,' which is why there is no passing or failing score. But many companies who use the TOEIC to set their own standards might require employees to have a certain minimum score on the TOEIC because the corresponding level of English is what is needed for that job. This doesn't mean that a person passes or fails the TOEIC; it just means they met or did not meet the specific standards set by a specific organization. Individual organizations will set their own standard scores to meet their own needs, but a very general idea of how TOEIC scores translate into English proficiency can be seen in the chart on the following page.
Important: Since the test calculates only the number of correct responses, and since you don't lose points for incorrect responses, you should fill in every item rather than leave any blank. This book will teach you how to narrow down the possible options for each answer so that you come closest to picking the correct one, but even if you do not know the answer, guess! After all, you may, with luck, score a point; if you leave an answer blank, however, you receive no credit.
On the TOEIC, you don't lose points for incorrect responses, so you should try to answer every question.
If you don't know the answer, guess!
The TOEIC Service recommends that a TOEIC score be considered valid for up to two years. However, an individual who took TOEIC less than two years previously, and who has greatly boosted his or her language skills during that period, may find that his or her previous TOEIC score has become outdated.
Your TOEIC score is confidential. Information about your performance is available only to you and to the administering institution. Institutions may disclose individual candidate information to staff only on a need-to-know basis and are not to post scores on bulletin boards or other public places without the permission of the test takers.
The chart on the next page will give you an idea of how TOEIC scores measure English proficiency.
TOEIC Score of: 200 Proficiency Level: Elementary Proficiency
Proficiency Description: Able to satisfy basic survival requirements, maintain very simple face-to-face conversations on familiar topics; thinks in native language and translates into English.
TOEIC Score of: 400 Proficiency Level: Intermediate Proficiency
Proficiency Description: Can initiate and maintain predictable face-to-face conversations; satisfy limited social demands; range and control of language limited; emerging, but not consistent, basic grammar.
TOEIC Score of: 600 Proficiency Level: Working Proficiency
Proficiency Description: Able to satisfy limited work requirements and routine social demands; facility with concrete subject matter and language; usually thinks in English, occasionally resorts to translation.
TOEIC Score of: 800 Proficiency Level: Advanced Working Proficiency
Proficiency Description: Able to satisfy most work requirements with language usage that is often, but not always, acceptable and effective; communicates effectively on topics ranging to particular interests and special fields of competence; effective use of language may deteriorate under tension or pressure.
As described above, the TOEIC is a timed exam. That means that your score greatly depends on being able to complete the questions within the time allowed. (After all, if you were given all the time you needed, you would probably be able to answer nearly all of the answers correctly.)
We've indicated the amount of time you should budget for each part of the test at the beginning of each test section. At first this will seem like an extremely short amount of time to answer all of the questions. But at Kaplan we've designed our test-taking strategies to help you eliminate incorrect answers as efficiently as possible. By practicing the strategies, then, you should be able to get through nearly all of the test items. Remember: Even if you aren't able to complete a whole section before the time limit, you should still fill in the answer grid for any unanswered items. You may fill in the correct answer by luck and get those points; if you leave those answers blank, you'll receive no points.
When you do the Practice items for each section, pay attention to the amount of time you spend on each item. You don't have to be strict about time at this point, but you do want to note where you are moving too slowly. Then, when you are ready to take a Practice Test, be sure to time yourself very carefully. This way you'll have as close to a real test experience as possible, and you will see exactly where you need improvement.
Filling Out Forms
Like other standardized tests, the TOEIC requires you to fill out a number of forms. For all of these forms you will need a No. 2 or HB pencil.
Before you even start the test you will have to complete a "Background Questionnaire." We've included a sample of this form at the end of this chapter. Practice filling it out before you take the TOEIC so that are fully comfortable with it come Test Day.
The next form you will use is the answer grid. On the answer grid you first will fill in ovals to indicate your name, the center where you are taking the test, and other identifying information. You will use the rest of the grid to indicate your answers. A sample answer grid is also included at the end of this chapter.
When taking the test, it is common to lose track of which question you are on. Check that you are on the right question every five questions. That way if you have accidentally skipped an oval, you only have to correct a few of them.
It is important that you fill in the ovals completely; a check mark or X will confuse the computer that scores the test. Also, be sure that you don't go too far outside the oval and that if you erase, you do so completely. The practice test in the back of the book includes a sample answer grid. Practice filling it out so that you are prepared on Test Day.
You must use a No. 2 or HB pencil. The computer that scores the test can't read any other type of pencil or pen.
Kaplan's Key TOEIC Strategies
Here is a quick overview of Kaplan's approach to answering questions.
- Evaluate each option.
- Mark correct answer if known.
- If you don't know the correct answer, eliminate all options that are obviously wrong.
- From the remaining options, choose the one that makes the most sense to you.
- If no single option makes sense, choose any option that is not obviously wrong.
- Answer every question, even if you must make a wild guess. Remember, you increase your chances for a better score if you answer every item!
General Test Directions
On the next page, we have included the general directions for the TOEIC test. These are the same directions that will be printed on the back of your test booklet. After you fill out the Background Questionnaire, you will have a few moments to read these directions. You'll read them just before you break the seal on your test booklet and start answering questions.
This is a test of your ability to use the English language. The total time for the test is approximately two hours. It is divided into seven parts. Each part of the test begins with a set of specific directions. Be sure you understand what you are to do before you begin work on a part.
You will find that some of the questions are harder than others, but you should try to answer every one. There is no penalty for guessing. Do not be concerned if you cannot answer all of the questions.
Do not mark your answers in this test book. You must put all of your answers on the separate answer sheet that you have been given. When putting you answer to a question on your answer sheet, be sure to fill in the answer space corresponding to the letter of your choice. Fill in the space so that the letter inside the oval cannot be seen, as shown in the example below.
Mr. Jones ------- to his accountant yesterday. Sample Answer: C
(D) to talk The sentence should read, "Mr. Jones talked to his accountant yesterday."
Therefore, you should choose answer (C). Notice how this has been done in the example given.
Mark only one answer for each question. If you change your mind about an answer after you have marked it on your answer sheet, completely erase your old answer and then mark your new answer. You must mark the answer sheet carefully so that the test-scoring machine can accurately record your test score.
Copyright © 2005 by Kaplan, Inc.