This should be a normal Saturday morning if there was no TOEIC exam. I should have waked up late in the morning to see the highly raised sun if there was no TOEIC exam. Unfortunately, this is the date for me to take it.
I still remember the time when I was preparing for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). TOEFL has been popular in students in China for ten years. There are also hundreds of training centers helping people to prepare for the TOEFL test. I remember I attended TOEFL classes for half year before I took the exam.
TOEIC, which also comes from ETS (English Testing Services (R)), seems less famous. I heard about this term about three months ago. I thought it is some company internal test and later, I found out it comes from ETS, but much more informal. It is not only because it can be held in the examinee’s company, but because of other factors I will explain later.
Before the Exam
The exam started at 9:30 AM today and ended at 12:06. It was told to bring a 2B pencil and rubber. I thought it maybe some casual exam like others held within the company, but I was wrong.
The door of the training room was locked tightly and all the examinees waited outside the door – I have never waited like this in the company. :-) And at 9:30 sharp, the door opened and a good looking girl I don’t know appeared at the entrance and checked ID card and the exam permit carefully one by one. She was really careful with the numbers and the faces (the real person and the picture on the ID), as if she has never seen a China National ID card before. This took about 10 minutes along. People were also asked to take out the mobile phone and turn it off before her. This is stricter than that on a airplane. :-)
Later I found this is the only staff from the testing center. The others all come from the company. On the board hang large poster about TOEIC, however, the poster is obviously localized with the URL of TOEIC test center in China: http://www.toeictest.com.cn I just checked this site and it is quite simple, slow and unprofessional.
To me, TOEIC is still somewhat simple – although I cannot guarantee a high score, but the listening conversation and the reading sections are relatively easier than TOEFL. I am not sure if everyone thinks so – is it because I took TOEFL 5 years ago while my English improved during the half decade?
This is the most unprepared exam in my life. Before this morning, I even didn’t know how many sections in the exam. I roughly read the reading section of a sample exam for the first time between the 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM time window before the exam. I took some preparation sessions for the listening comprehension at work before. In the short 30 minutes, I learnt that there are three sections in the reading part – choosing the right answer to complete a sentence, correcting mistakes in a sentence and understand short business paragraphs.
The 100 listening comprehension questions were hard work for me. I kept concentrated on the tape for 30 minutes, or longer, who knows…. I just felt very hard to find out the right oval on the answer sheet because the answer sheet was so compact that everything clustered together.
After I finished the exam, I feel not bad. The result will come out in two weeks.
TOEIC is Not Good Organized and Not Professional
Personally, I think TOEIC is not a professional test. There is a gap between the standards TOELF and TOELF/GRE.
- Registration. I almost lost my chance to take the exam since my national ID card number was wrongly printed on the Entrance Permit. It turned out to be the mistake of the test center.
- Answer sheet. I always believe the TOEFL/GRE test is very good at usability design. The [STOP] and the [Go to the next page] instructions are very considerate. But in TOEIC answer sheet, question number 101 to 199 were simply marked as number 1 to 99 on the test exam. The only difference is, one is on the upper side and other is on the lower part. I felt very strange and uncertain to put my answer for question No. 139 into the question 39 on the answer sheet. It does not look like an answer sheet from ETS.
- The print. The small logo (about 200*60 pixel) on the answer sheet was not clear, and was obviously enlarged from a much smaller one, so the resolution was not good.
- The website. Either TOEIC or TOEICTEST.COM.CN were not satisfactory.
Well. I believe there is still some way for TOEIC to go in China – to be more professional. BTW, China is not updated on the list of TOEIC’s Taking Test web page yet.
More about TOEIC in Shanghai
In case you are curious, the expense to attend a TOEIC exam is about 70 USD or 600 RMB. The full score is 990 and lowest is 10.