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Background and Goals of the TOEIC Listening and Reading Update Project

Ashmore, Elizabeth; Duke, Trina; Sakano, Jennifer
Publication Year:
ETS Technical Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
English Language Learners (ELL) Feedback Field Testing Global Business Pilot Study Test Design Test Development Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) TOEIC Listening and Reading Tests Update


This report describes the goals and outcomes of a project that produced an update to the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test in 2016. The use of English for communication, particularly in international workplace contexts, is continually evolving. The TOEIC Listening and Reading test is reexamined periodically to ensure that the test content reflects current, realistic communication in the workplace and daily life, thereby supporting meaningful interpretations about English-language skills and promoting a positive impact on English teaching and learning. The report summarizes how the design process, pilot study, and field test contributed to the outcome of an updated TOEIC Reading and Listening test that even more closely reflects current real-world language and tasks.

The current update to the TOEIC Listening and Reading test was initiated to ensure that the tasks on the test continue to align with current theories of language learning and testing, to modify testing tasks to reflect changes in workplace communication, and to encourage a positive impact on teaching and learning. The testing experts at ETS looked at the language tasks that are currently used in the global workplace and everyday life. They also gathered information about the needs of score users. Then, new and modified task types were designed and tested in a pilot study. Based on the results of the study, decisions were made about which task types to use and about the format of the updated test forms. The adjusted forms were administered in two rounds of field testing designed to assess the performance of the complete test forms.

The outcome of the project is an updated version of the TOEIC Listening and Reading test in which approximately 20% of the questions reflect the changes to communication identified in the study. This update ensures that interpretations of the TOEIC Listening and Reading test scores continue to be meaningful as test questions are adjusted to realistic everyday and workplace communication situations. 

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