Thursday, June 7

TOEFL Test-Taker Satisfaction Survey

What could ETS do to improve your overall satisfaction with the entire process surrounding the (TOEFL) test?

Read my response below.

ETS should provide a detailed analysis of each test-section score.

As it stands, the summary analysis of each test-section score on the official TOEFL iBT score sheet is vague to the point of meaningless, even for a native speaker like myself. Test-takers do not want holistic generalities explaining each test-section score; they want the nuts-and-bolts as to why they scored high or low. This is particularly true of low-scoring test-takers. A low-scoring test-taker wants to know where and why he/she lost points. In short, he/she wants an analytical breakdown of each test-section score not a holistic one. I hear this complaint all the time. 

For the cost of the test ($175.00, which is sure to go up), each test-taker should get an analytical breakdown of each test-section score. In short, the test-taker is a paying customer who should get a full accounting of the product (test score) he/she purchased. This is especially true for speaking and writing scores; for example, ETS should explain in detail why I got a 29/30 writing score; more specifically, ETS should tell me where and why I lost one point. Since ETS uses a holistic rating system when scoring constructive tasks, the loss of one writing point reflects not a holistic scoring system but an analytical one. In short, I am left with more questions than answers. The solution is to call ETS and waste time and energy trying to hunt down the rater and the reason why I lost a point. I am a paying customer. I have a right to know. A detailed score report would, however, explain this apparent incongruity in ETS's rating system specific to my writing score and, more importantly, satisfy this customer's right to know.

Further, each speaking and writing rater's score should be accounted for on the test-taker's official score sheet, and averaged out accordingly for a final section score. In other words, ETS needs to lay it all on the table. If there is a discrepancy among rater scores concerning a speaking/writing score, the test-taker, as a paying customer, has a right to a full accounting of the scoring process. This process is not happening.

Test-takers are buying an expensive product: a TOEFL iBT test score. ETS, as the product provider, is obligated to provide any and all information concerning its product to its paying customers. That means providing an official score sheet that gives a complete score breakdown of each test section score as described above. By doing so, ETS will improve customer satisfaction tenfold.

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