Comparing the TOEFL and the TOEIC

Updated: 2011-01-27 11:17
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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week in our Foreign Student Series, we continue our discussion of college entrance exams. So far we have talked about three tests that are widely accepted by American schools. These are the SAT, the ACT and the TOEFL. The TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Now we have a question from a student in France about another test. Cire Kaba plans to enter an American college or university. The question is: when applying to a school in the United States, can the TOEIC replace the TOEFL? The TOEIC is the Test of English for International Communication.

The short answer to the question is no.

Admissions offices at American colleges and universities generally do not recognize TOEIC results. The same is true of scholarship and exchange programs as well. But some schools and English programs in the United States do use the test. So we thought this would be a good chance to explain the TOEIC.

ETS, the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, develops and administers both the TOEFL and the TOEIC. It says the TOEIC measures the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.

Non-native English speakers take the test to demonstrate their English language skills when applying for jobs. Organizations also use the TOEIC to measure progress in English training programs. And they use it to consider people for placement at the right level in language programs.

Several thousand companies, English programs and government agencies use the TOEIC. The test is offered in about sixty countries.

The TOEFL is based on English used in the classroom. The TOEIC is based on English used in the workplace. But the Educational Testing Service says the test does not require knowledge of special business words. It says the questions come from real situations like attending a company meeting.

The TOEIC measures listening and reading skills -- and, beginning in December, ETS will offer speaking and writing tests. For a link to the Educational Testing Service Web site, where you can get more information about the TOEIC and the TOEFL, go to

You can also download MP3 files and transcripts of the earlier reports in our Foreign Student Series. And if you have a general question for us, send it to

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Bob Doughty.