SEOUL, Korea, April 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Every last Sunday of the month is a TOEIC day. Tens of thousands of college students and young men and women wake up early in the morning to take the test in local middle and high schools.
It has been that way for the past three decades or so disrupting the weekend sleep of 2 million test takers every year, as the TOEIC test has been the de facto gold standard for evaluating a job applicant’s English proficiency. TOEIC is an abbreviation of the Test of English for International Communication produced by Educational Testing Service (ETS) of the United States.
However, that undisputed position of TOEIC will be the thing of the past soon. Already the number of test takers is on a declining trend, with large corporation recruiters saying publicly “TOEIC no longer reflects the applicant’s language skills properly.”
Instead, hiring officials focus more on one-on-one English interviews. Beginning this year, universities will stop taking TOEIC scores from their applicants as proof of English language achievement. In the same way, prestigious foreign language high schools will do the same from this year’s entrance exam.
According to YBM Korea TOEIC Commission, the organization responsible for TOEIC tests in Korea, the total number of test takers in 2013 was 2,078,397. The number has been in decline for two consecutive years since 2011 when the figure was 2.11 million followed by 2.09 million in 2012. Although this is still a significant number, it is unusual in that the applicant figure had been consistently rising for the past 30 years.
Why the sudden fall from the grace? In the past few years, there have been incidents such as plots to take the test questions out in advance and sell them for a price, which damaged the reputation of the test. In addition, the excessively high test fee was frequently complained by test takers.
Most of all, however, the realization among corporate recruiters that there is little, if any, correlation between TOEIC test scores and the job applicant’s real language skills, which prompted them to look for alternative ways to assess the job applicants’ real potential.
Written by Sean Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org)