Research and Design

ETS has rigorously pursued ongoing research to ensure test quality for more than 40 years. Using a high-quality test means more accurate decisions about international applicants for your institution.

Our in-depth Classroom Needs Assessment identifies the skills students need to succeed in an academic environment. Only those tasks that demonstrate test takers’ academic English-language proficiency are included in the test.

We have issued more than 150 research reports to provide a strong research base to support our test design — so you can be sure you’re making an accurate decision about academic English-language proficiency.

Development and Analysis Process

  • Creating test questions based on test specifications
  • Administering questions
  • Analyzing results
  • Rejecting or revising questions
  • Releasing test questions in a test form

Some of the Latest Studies Include:

  1. Mary K. Enright, Joan M. Jamieson and Carol A. Chapelle (2007). Building a Validity Argument for the Test of English as a Foreign Language™ (Routledge Student Publications)
  2. Bridgeman, B. (Forthcoming). Comparison of human and machine scores on the TOEFL iBT speaking test as indicators of communicative language proficiency
  3. Sawaki, Y., & Nissan, S. (2009). Criterion-related validity of the TOEFL iBT® listening section (TOEFL iBT-08). Princeton, NJ: ETS
  4. Wall, D., & Horák, T. (2006). The impact of changes in the TOEFL examination on teaching: Phase 1, The baseline study (TOEFL-MS-34). Princeton, NJ: ETS
  5. Wall, D., & Horák, T. (2008). The impact of changes in the TOEFL® examination on teaching and learning in Central and Eastern Europe: Phase 2, Measuring change (TOEFL iBT-05). Princeton, NJ: ETS

See more studies.

"The TOEFL test is without a doubt the best-researched language test in the world."
— Tim McNamara, Professor, Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Australia

ETS and the TOEFL® Board sponsor TOEFL grants and awards each year for work in foreign- and second-language research, teaching or assessment in international higher education. Find out more.

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TOEFL Institutions

FACT: 4 out of 5 Institutions Prefer the TOEFL Test

Among admissions officers surveyed, and who expressed a preference*, four out of five prefer the TOEFL test.

* Source: Survey of 263 admissions officers at U.S. universities, of which 212 accept both the TOEFL test and the IELTS™ test and 152 state a preference.

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