TOEIC is a test that evaluates your ability to understand, use and communicate in English. TOEIC stands for Test Of English for International Communication. TOEIC was developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and this is the official organization that administers the test. When you take the official TOEIC test, you will register and send your money to ETS.
The TOEIC test began in 1979. Initially it was only used in Japan, but it's use has spread globally over the years and is a well established standard to measure a person's English communication skills. Although ETS based the TOEIC test off of their TOEFL test, the focus and format of the TOEIC test is quite different. The TOEIC test is designed to assess a person's ability to use English sucessfully in the workplace. For businesses, corporations, government agencies and educational institutions, the TOEIC test is an effective and accurate tool for them to use to determine if you are qualified to be hired, where to place you, if you continue to meet their standards, or whether to promote you.
So should you take the TOEIC test? It might not be a choice if your ambition is to have a career at a company where the primary language is English. If your goal is to be on the international business scene, then having a TOEIC score is something that will help you to achieve that goal. TOEIC might seem easier than TOEFL, but it's just as challenging. You must have strong vocabulary and grammar skills as well as being able to read and listen to English fluently. You have to be able to quickly understand and respond to the workplace situations you are presented with in the test. The test is an accurate reflection of what you will encounter in the business world. Are you prepared? If you've had less than five years of intensive English study then no.
Since the TOEIC test is meant to represent real world corporate situations from the factory level all the way up to the boardroom, the test as evolved over the years. It started out as a 200 multiple choice question paper test consisting of a Listening and Reading section. In 2006, the Listening and Reading section question formats and number of questions of each type were modified, and the content was updated. The total time for the test is still the same, about 2.5 hours. The other big change in 2006 was the introduction of a new additional and optional Speaking and Writing test. The Speaking and Writing test is used to further test a person's English communcation proficiency. This test is done only on a computer. It's used primarily in Japan, Korea, USA and Canada currently while the original TOEIC is used in 90 countries.
We'll be covering each section of the test in more detail later on, but here's a quick overview. You have 45 minutes to complete 100 multiple choice questions for Listening. There are 4 different sections, each with a different kind of stimulus. Reading is also 100 multiple choice questions, but you have 75 minutes to complete it. There are 3 different sections, each with a different kind of stimulus. When you take the official test, ETS expects you to complete a survey which has an allotted time of 30 minutes.
For the optional Speaking and Writing test, the Speaking part consists of 11 tasks and will take no longer than 20 minutes to complete. The Writing section has 8 tasks and you have up to 1 hour to complete it.
You can only take the official TOEIC test from ETS. ETS offers it 12 times a year in the United States. If you take it in the USA, the cost is $75. You need to go to the ETS page and choose your country from the list in order to find the contact center for you. You need to contact the center to learn when you can take the test. The center will also inform you of the cost. If your country isn't in the list, then you need to contact ETS and they will make arrangements. Make sure to register as soon as you can so you can get the date that you want. Selecting a date that fits into your schedule may not be easy. You also want to choose a date that will give you enough time to practice and prepare.
The optional Speaking and Writing test can be taken once per month in locations around the world. Cost varies from country to country. You need to contact a representative in your country. As with the standard TOEIC test, you can find a representative on the ETS site.
You can get more information on the official TOEIC test by going to the ETS website. You can go through the web pages, or you might want to read through their Handbook PDF. If you rather not read through all the pages, ETS has created a flash presentation you can watch instead.