ESL test overview

Dear Friends,

Who of you would like to work with us on a new project? Your task is to gather information on all ESL tests and exams that currently available. (TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Certificates, etc.) The idea is to create a comprehensive guide on international ESL tests and certificates. For each exam you will have to find the following details:

  • organization or companies that administers and creates the test
  • since when has the test been available?
  • how many candidates took the test last year?
  • structure and contents of the test
  • how to prepare for the test
  • where, when and how the test can be taken
  • cost of the test
  • who (which organizations and companies) recognize and use the test

    In addition there will more information you will have to find. Of course you want to know what you will get in return for your work. For starters, you will receive a copy of our

    Depending on the amount of time and effort you put into this project there will be other benefits you can gain. Let me know when you would like to start.


    TOEFL listening discussions: Why does the student visit the registrar’s office?

  • Thank you, Torsten!

    What is the ‘gathering’ criterion…internet(Googling, Yahoo etc)?

    Can be taken or is taken?


    Hi Tom, you can use any method you like. What counts is the result. Yes, Google is probably a good starting point and you can also use forums to get insider information on the various exams.

    Both versions are possible.[YSaerTTEW443543]

    TOEFL listening discussions: What is Dr Schmidt researching?[YSaerTTEW443543]

    “Cambridge IELTS by V. Jakeman and C. McDOWELL”:


    The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
    is widely recognised as a reliable means of assessing whether candidates are ready to study or train in the medium of English. IELTS is owned by three partners, The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the British Council and IDP Education Australia (through its subsidiary company IELTS Australia Pty Limited.) Further information on IELTS can be found in the IELTS Handbook available free of charge from IELTS centres.


    Dear Torsten

    Before I continue, please tell me if I am on the right track?


    Well, Tom what I have in mind is a guide that provides information in an easy to read format. The text passage you have copied is rather clumsy – it might sound good to linguists but it will be difficult to read for potential test candidates.
    Let’s start by collecting the information I outlined in my initial post so we can create a table that gives an overview of all exams.[YSaerTTEW443543]

    TOEFL listening discussions: Where does this conversation most likely take place?[YSaerTTEW443543]

    Sorry, could not get my point across!

    OK, I understand the language should be simple and beautiful (maybe reader-friendly), but what about the pattern/ way of giving the information? Is my way correct if I (try to) put life into it? I have collected some information from books, some from Google…how am I supposed to present it?

    Tom (who is very slow on the uptake!)

    Tom, if you were slow on the uptake as you say, you would not have been able to achieve such a tremendous level of success with your English. You ask a lot of questions that show that you are a very sharp thinker. So need for you to apologize.
    Yes, your approach is right. At this stage, it’s sufficient to collect the present the information in keywords rather than sentences. Imagine you would have to fill in a form, for example:

    • name of exam: TOEIC (Test Of English for International Communication)
    • name and location of administering organization: ETS (Educational Testing Services), US + exact address
    • since when available: 1979
    • how many test takers in 2005: more than 5 million
    • test format: multiple choice
    • structure and contents…

    Once we have the basic information of each exam, we can move on to the next stage. Just keep in mind that this is intended to be a guide for people who want to know which exam will suit them best so we have to start with an overview and then go into the details…[YSaerTTEW443543]

    TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between two students (2)[YSaerTTEW443543]

    Many thanks, Torsten :smiley:

    Now this sample that you have given will help all of us with our work.


    Hi Tom,

    Let’s collect the basic details of all major international ESL tests and arrange them in table so a potential candidate can get some orientation. So far I have not seen such an overview and I can imagine that this will be very useful to anybody who is learning English.

    Once we have completed the overview we can then provide further details about each exam.

    What do you think?

    TOEFL listening discussions: Why does the young man have grapes for lunch?[YSaerTTEW443543]

    [color=red][size=150]Attention Mr. Torsten![/size]

    Have you noticed something, Torsten?

    That different websites and books give different information on TOEFL and IELTS! :shock: No two books show the same statistics. The number of students appearing in the test, countries in which the test is conducted–strangely enough, I am constantly receiving unstable data!

    And I am pretty sure same would be the case on your side.

    Tom (waiting for your reply)

    Hi Tom,

    Please collect all the information you can get on the various tests and include the source. You might find different numbers and statistics because different sources are updated at different intervals. That’s why it makes sense to use the official website of each test. So please check out the ETS website for TOEFL information.


    TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between two students (1)[YSaerTTEW443543]

    Hello Torsten :smiley: :o

    When you sent this proposal, I thought it was going to be very stimulating and interesting–well, it was and there is no doubt about it–but… let’s take TOEFL, for example:


    [color=red]Structure of the test: varies from country to country
    [color=red]Fee of the test: varies from country to country
    [color=red]Number of students appearing every year! varies from country to country

    Here is some information:

    TOEFL Internet-based Testing Overview

    Fees for Tests and Services

    [color=red][size=150]TOEFL Sample Questions:[/size] Reading Comprehension
    In TOEFL Sample Reading Comprehension section you will read three passages and answer reading comprehension questions about each passage. Most TOEFL sample reading comprehension questions are worth one point, but the last question in each set is worth more than one point. The directions indicate how many points you may receive.
    Paper and Pencil Test
    A new hearing device is now available for some hearing-impaired people. This device uses a magnet to hold the detachable sound-processing portion in place. Like other aids, it converts sound into vibrations. But it is unique in that it can transmit the vibrations directly to the magnet and then to the inner ear. This produces a clearer sound. The new device will not help all hearing-impaired people only those with a hearing loss caused by infection or some other problem in the middle ear. It will probably help no more than 20 percent of all people with hearing problems. Those people who have persistent ear infections, however, should find relief and restored hearing with the new device.
    Following are some toefl sample questions on this passage:

    1. What is the author’s main purpose?
      A. To describe a new cure for ear infections
      B. To inform the reader of a new device
      C. To urge doctors to use a new device
      D. To explain the use of a magnet
      Answer: B
    2. The word “relief” in the last sentence means:
      A. Less distress
      B. Assistance
      C. Distraction
      D. Relaxation
      Answer: A
      One of the most dangerous drugs for pregnant women to consume is
      alcohol. Because alcohol is delivered quickly into the blood and passes
      quickly into the tissues and membranes, the human fetus is particularly
      vulnerable to its effects. In fact, the negative effects on a fetus are so
      pronounced that babies born after exposure to alcohol are said to be
      suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome.
      As a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol is passed into her
      her bloodstream almost simultaneously. Moreover, because the
      bloodstream of the fetus is inextricably tied to that of the mother,
      the alcohol passes directly into the bloodstream of the fetus as well.
      And, what is more, the concentration of alcohol in the fetus is exactly
      the same as in the mother.
      For the mother, this concentration is not a problem because her liver
      can remove one ounce of alcohol from her system per hour. However,
      the fetus’s liver is not completely developed (how developed it is
      depends on its stage of development). The rate at which it is able
      to eliminate the alcohol from the blood of the fetus is much slower.
      Eventually, the alcohol will be returned to the mother’s system by
      passing across the placenta, but this process is slow. By the time
      this takes place, major neurological damage may have already
      occurred. Research has shown that as little as one drink of
      alcohol can produce significant, irreversible damage to the fetus.
      Babies born after exposure to alcohol generally exhibit facial
      distortion, inability to concentrate, and difficulty in remembering.
      Simply speaking, it is imperative that pregnant women avoid alcohol.
      Following are some Toefl sample questions on this passage:
    3. What is the main topic of this reading?
      A. Women and drugs
      B. The dangers of pregnancy
      C. The fetus and alcohol
      D. Drinking and the human body
      Answer: C
    4. In line 4 the word “its” refers to
      A. the fetus
      B. the blood
      C. the tissue
      D. the alcohol
      Answer: D
    5. In line 5, the word “pronounced” most closely means
      A. evident
      B. spoken
      C. described
      D. unfortunate
      Answer: A
    6. How much time can it be inferred that it takes alcohol to enter a woman’s bloodstream after she takes a drink?
      A. about one hour
      B. a few seconds
      C. several minutes
      D. at least 24 hours
      Answer: B
    7. In line 9 the word “inextricably” most nearly means
      A. unexplainedly
      B. formerly
      C. forcefully
      D. inseparably
      Answer: D
    8. According to the passage, how does the concentration of alcohol in a fetus compare to that in the mother?
      A. The concentration is more.
      B. The concentration is less.
      C. The concentration is equivalent.
      D. The concentration cannot be measured.
      Answer: C
    9. It can be inferred that the development of a fetal liver depends on
      A. how many months pregnant the mother is
      B. how much alcohol the mother has consumed
      C. how large the fetus is
      D. how well the mother has taken care of the fetus
      Answer: A
    10. According to the passage, how is alcohol finally returned to the mother’s system?
      A. it is carried through the bloodstream
      B. it is transferred across the placenta
      C. it is expelled by the fetus’s liver
      D. it is not completely returned
      Answer: B
    11. Which one of the following was NOT mentioned as a sign of fetal alcohol syndrome?
      A. disfigurement of the face
      B. concentration difficulties
      C. increased aggression
      D. memory problems
      Answer: C
    12. At what place in the passage does the author discuss the quantity of alcohol necessary to produce negative results?
      A. Lines 2-3
      B. Lines 11-13
      C. Lines 21-22
      D. Lines 24-25
      Answer: C

    MARK HUGHES is a master of the fine art of survival. His Los Angeles-based Herbalife International Inc. is a pyramid outfit that peddles weight-loss and nutrition concoctions of dubious value. Bad publicity and regulatory crackdowns hurt his U.S. business in the late 1980s. But Hughes, 41, continues to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle in a $20 million Beverly Hills mansion. He has been sharing the pad and a yacht with his third wife, a former Miss Petite U.S.A. He can finance this lavish lifestyle just on his salary and bonus, which last year came to $7.3 million.
    He survived his troubles in the U.S. by moving overseas, where regulators are less zealous and consumers even more naive, at least initially. Today 77% of Herbalife retail sales derive from overseas. Its new prowling grounds: Asia and Russia. Last year Herbalife’s net earnings doubled, to $45 million, on net sales of $632 million. Based on Herbalife’s Nasdaq-traded stock, the company has a market capitalization of $790 million, making Hughes 58% worth $454 million.
    There’s a worm, though, in Hughes apple. Foreigners aren’t stupid. In the end they know when they’ve been had. In France, for instance, retail sales rose to $97 million by 1993 and then plunged to $12 million last year. In Germany sales hit $159 million in 1994 and have since dropped to $54 million.
    Perhaps aware that the world may not provide an infinite supply of suckers, Hughes wanted to unload some of his shares. But in March, after Herbalife’s stock collapsed, he put off a plan to dump about a third of his holdings on the public.
    Contributing to Hughes’ woes, Herbalife’s chief counsel and legal attack dog, David Addis, quit in January. Before packing up, he reportedly bellowed at Hughes, “I can’t protect you anymore.” Addis, who says he wants to spend more time with his family, chuckles and claims attorney-client privilege.
    Trouble on the home front, too. On a recent conference call with distributors, Hughes revealed he’s divorcing his wife, Suzan, whose beaming and perky image adorns much of Herbalife’s literature.
    Meanwhile, in a lawsuit that’s been quietly moving through Arizona’s Superior Court, former Herbalife distributor Daniel Fallow of Sandpoint, Idaho charges that Herbalife arbitrarily withholds payment to distributors and marks up its products over seven times the cost of manufacturing. Fallow also claims Hughes wanted to use the Russian mafia to gain entry to that nation’s market.
    Fallow himself is no angel, but his lawsuit, which was posted on the Internet, brought out other complaints. Randy Cox of Lewiston, Idaho says Herbalife “destroyed my business” after he and his wife complained to the company that they were being cheated out of their money by higher-ups in the pyramid organization.
    Will Hughes survive again? Don’t count on it this time.

    1. Herbalife Inc is based in:
      A. Los Angeles
      B. Columbus
      C. New York
      D. Austin
      Ans : A
    2. Daniel Fallow:
      A. Was a former attorney for Hughes
      B. Was a former distributor of Herbalife
      C. Co-founded Herbalife
      D. Ran Herbalife’s German unit
      Ans : B
    3. Which of the following countries is mentioned where Hughes operated Herbalife?
      A. India
      B. China
      C. Germany
      D. Ukraine
      Ans : C
    4. The complaint of Randy Cox of Lewiston, Idaho, against Herbalife was:
      A. The company did not pay them their dues
      B. The products supplied by Hughes were inferior
      C. Their higher-ups in the pyramid cheated them
      D. Hughes had connections with the Russian mafia
      Ans : C
    5. Which of the following countries is NOT mentioned in the passage?
      A. Russia
      B. USA
      C. France
      D. Italy
      Ans : D
    6. In the year in which Hughes’ salary and bonuses came to US$ 7.3 million, what was the retail sales for Herbalife in France?
      A. $12 million
      B. $159 million
      C. $54 million
      D. $97 million
      Ans :A
    7. At the time when this article was written, if Herbalife had had a market capitalisation of $ 1 billion, what would have been Hughes’ share?
      A. $420 million
      B. $580 million
      C. $125 million
      D. $500 million
      Ans : B
      In any country, the wages commanded by the laborers who have comparable skills but who work in various industries are determined by the productivity of the least productive unit of labour, i.e. the unit of labour which works in the industry which has catatest economic disadvantages. We will represent the various opportunities of employment in a country like united states by Symbols. A standing for a group of industries in which we have exceptional economic advantage over foreign countries; B for a group in which our advantages are less; E , one in which they are still less; D, the group of industries in which they are the least of all.
      When our population is so small that all our labour can be engaged in the group represented by A, productivity of labour and (therefore wages) will be at their maximum. when our population increases so that some of the labour will have to work in group B, the wages of all labour must decline to the level of productivity in that group. But no employer, without government aid, will yet be able to afford to hire labour to exploit the opportunities, represented by E and D, unless there is a further increase in population.
      But suppose that the political party in power holds the belief that we should produce everything that we consume, that the opportunities represented by E and D should also be exploited. The commodities, that the industries composing C and D will produce have been hitherto obtained from abroad in exchange for commodities produce by A and B. The government now renders this difficult by imposing high duties upon the former class of commodities. This means that workers in A and B must pay higher prices for what they buy, but do not receive higher prices for what they sell.
      After the duty has gone into effect and the prices of commodities that can be produced by C and D have risch sufficiently enterprises will be able to hire labour at the wages prevailing in A and B and establish industries in C and D. So far as the remaining labours in A and B buy the products of C and D ,the difference between the price which they pay for these product and the price they would pay it they were permitted to import those products duty-free is a tax paid not to the government, but to the producers in C and D, to enable the later to remain in business. It is on uncompensated deduction from the natural earnings of the labourers in A and B. nor are the workers in C and D paid as much, estimated in purchasing power as they would have received if they had been allowed to remain in A and B under the earlier conditions.
    8. The authors main point is that
      A. The government ought to subsidize C and D
      B. Wages ought to be independent of international trade
      C. It is impossible to attain national self sufficiency
      D. The varying productivity of the various industries leads tot he inequalities in wages of workers in these industries
      E. A policy that draws labour from the fields of catater natural productiveness to fields of lower natural productiveness tends to redirect purchasing power.
      Answer: E
    9. No employer, without government aid will yet be able to afford to hire labour to exploit the opportunities represented by C and D because
      A. The population has increased
      B. Productivity of labour is not at the maximum
      C. Productivity would drop correspondingly with the wages of labour
      D. We cannot produce everything we consume
      E. Enterprises would have to pay wages equivalent to those obtained by workers in A and B while producing under catater disadvantages.
      Answer: E
    10. When C and D are established, workers in these industries
      A. Receives wages equal to those workers in A and B
      B. Receives higher wages than do the workers in A and B
      C. Are not affected so adversely by the levying of duties as are workers in A and B
      D. Must be paid by government funds collected from the duties on imports.
      E. Receive lower wages than do the workers in A and B.
      Answer: A
    11. We cannot exploit C and D unless
      A. The producers in E and D are compensated for the disadvantages under which they operate.
      B. We export large quantities of commodities produced by A and B
      C. The prices of commodities produced by A and B are raised
      D. The productivity of labour in all industries is increased
      E. We allow duties to be paid to the producers in C and D rather than to the government.
      Answer: A

    Hi Tom,

    Many thanks for posting your information. To make the guide more useful we should start by creating one page that shows all the basic details of each test in a table.

    1. abbreviation or acronym
    2. what does it stand for?
    3. who adminsters the test?
    4. since when available?
    5. how many test takers per year?
    6. who recognizes the test?
    7. for whom is the test?

    Maybe it’s best if you use an Excel or Word document to fill in the information.

    What do you think?

    TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between two students in a chemistry class[YSaerTTEW443543]

    Dear Torsten

    I am so sorry that I could not be of much help!

    In fact, believe me, I did try, but the variety of the information simply baffled me. I am still ready to put in effort but what do you say about the following?

    [color=red]Structure of the test: varies from country to country
    [color=red]Fee of the test: varies from country to country
    [color=red]Number of students appearing every year! varies from country to country


    I think I have disappointed you for the second time. But one good thing that happened was that two of the books that I happened to follow in the beginning were nothing but packs of lies–complete hogwash! Although they wasted some of my time, I realised that every book is not to be trusted.(Especially in Pakistan)


    Hello everybody

    I asked Amy for some guidence about gathering information for this project. She has given some wonderful guidelines. Here they are for those who are also working on this one.

    Hi Tom

    The first thing I’d do is sort/summarize the info from the various test websites (the main homepages for each test). For example, for TOEFL:

    TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language

    For things like varying numbers of test-takers, I’d just give a range (or the highest number preceded by “up to”)
    For TOEFL price, for example, give the price in US dollars that’s stated on the homepage ($140) and then mention that it varies and then give the link so that people can check their own countiry for themselves:

    Important Update: New Pricing Structure for TOEFL iBT

    For test and score data, use the most recent year available:

    TOEFL Test and Score Data Summaries

    You’ll probably get a lot of good information from the “teacher” sections of the websites.

    Scoring Overview

    Wikipedia might be interesting for you:

    How’s that for starters?