TOEFL Exam Duration Cut by an Hour in Response to Market Shifts and Competition from Duolingo

Starting from July, the duration of the TOEFL test will be reduced by an hour, while its price remains unchanged. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organization behind TOEFL, believes these changes will help the test remain competitive in light of the increasing popularity of the Duolingo English Test.

TOEFL Exam Duration Cut by an Hour in Response to Market Shifts and Competition from Duolingo

ETS has encountered growing competition from Duolingo, which provides a one-hour English language proficiency test. Duolingo has gained significant traction during the pandemic, as colleges and universities continue to require English language tests for non-native speakers, even though they have adopted test-optional policies for general admissions.

The forthcoming adjustments will not affect the TOEFL Essentials Test, a 90-minute version introduced in 2021. Moreover, the pricing for the TOEFL iBT, the test’s longer version, will stay the same. The TOEFL iBT fee differs by country, with a $255 price tag in the United States, while Duolingo’s test is available for $59.

Despite being twice as long as Duolingo’s test, ETS representatives maintain that the TOEFL iBT offers a superior evaluation. Amit Sevak, CEO of ETS, emphasized that TOEFL has been an industry standard for nearly six decades and that the latest enhancements will strengthen its standing while prioritizing customer and stakeholder needs.

The updated TOEFL iBT will include a briefer reading section with just two passages and 10 questions per passage, a more contemporary and streamlined writing task, and the removal of all unscored test questions.

Jennifer Dewar, Senior Director of Strategic Engagement for Duolingo, does not think that shortening the TOEFL iBT will result in increased growth. She pointed out that Duolingo’s test is still shorter than either TOEFL version, and almost every college in the United States now accepts the Duolingo test.

Srikant Gopal, Executive Director of TOEFL, stated that TOEFL iBT volumes have been expanding in recent years as the sector rebounds from the pandemic, largely due to the introduction of an at-home testing option in early 2020. He added that TOEFL will persist in innovating while upholding its industry-leading standards for validity, reliability, security, and fairness.

Changes to TOEFL iBT Details
Shortened Test Duration Test reduced to less than 2 hours from previous 3-hour duration, starting July 26, 2023.
Streamlined Instructions & Navigation Improved instructions and navigation throughout the test.
Modernized Writing Task Introduction of “Writing for an Academic Discussion” task, replacing the previous Independent Writing task.
Shorter Reading Section Reduced length of the Reading section.
Removal of Unscored Questions Elimination of all unscored test questions.
Simplified Registration Process Easier and quicker registration process for test takers, starting July 2023.
Increased Score Transparency Official score release date visible upon test completion, with real-time notifications for score status changes, starting July 26, 2023.

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