The TOEIC (Test Of English for International Communication), pronounced "tow-ick," is a test of English comprehension skills administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton, New Jersey and designed primarily for non-native-English-speaking businessmen. TOEIC was first developed by ETS in the 1970s at the request of the Japanese Government's Ministry of International Trade and Industry, to meet the needs of Japanese businesses wishing to do business in America. Today the test is widely recognized around the world, and is taken by 1.5 million people annually, although nearly two thirds of the test takers continue to be Japanese nationals. The TOEIC is multiple choice, and is scored on a scale of 0 to 990.

Purpose of the Test

The primary purpose of the TOEIC is to evaluate a person's ability to function in a business environment in which English is the primary language. Japanese companies and government agencies, especially those with significant dealings overseas or with foreigners, use TOEIC cutoff scores to determine promotions, job assignments, transfers to overseas offices, and to prune candidates during the hiring process. Recently, an increasing number of colleges and universities have begun allowing applicants to submit TOEIC scores in lieu of the more traditional TOEFL. It should be noted that the TOEFL is significantly more difficult than the TOEIC, which may account for a recent surge in the TOEIC's popularity with foreign applicants to North American universities (kind like how some Americans take the ACT instead of the SAT).

Nature of the Test

The TOEIC only evaluates language comprehension (listening and reading) rather than language production (speaking or writing). In keeping with the target audience of businessmen, most of the questions or examples revolve around situations likely to be encountered by businessmen, such as conversations in board meetings, factories, stores, or with customers and clients, announcements at airports, hotels, and receptions, readings from business documents or advertisements, etc. The test is divided into two sections, a listening section and a reading section, each with 100 questions. The listening section takes about 45 minutes, while the reading section is exactly 75 minutes in length. Including administration and directions, the test usually takes between two and a half to three hours to complete.

Types of Tests

There are two main types of TOEIC - the TOEIC SP (secured program), and the TOEIC IP (institutional program). The TOEIC SP is generally offered seven times a year - in January, March, May, July, September, and November - and is administered at official testing centers under strict test conditions. TOEIC SP scores are accepted by any company or institution that requires a TOEIC score. The TOEIC IP, in contrast, is administered in-house by corporations, usually under more informal test conditions, and is normally only accepted by the company administering it.

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