ETS Unveils the New TOEFL

The new test is shorter and cheaper and appears designed to compete with Duolingo.

May 24, 2021
(DMEPhotography/Getty Images)

The Educational Testing Service officially unveiled its new TOEFL -- or Test of English as a Foreign Language. The new TOEFL -- known as TOEFL Essentials -- does not replace the old TOEFL, now known as TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL Essentials tests four key skills -- listening, reading, speaking and writing. But it is shorter (it takes about 90 minutes) and cheaper (it costs between $100 and $120, depending on the country it's taken in, about half the cost of TOEFL iBT).

ETS hopes the new TOEFL will not replace the old test, but rather that colleges will accept both tests.

The real question is whether the new test will complete with Duolingo's exam, which costs $49 and takes about an hour.

Duolingo is now generally accepted by colleges in the U.S. (and Britain and Canada), and it has gained in popularity. (Exact numbers of people taking the two tests are not released by the companies.)

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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