What we know right now
As of early 2021, ETS has announced its “newest kid on the block” – TOEFL Essentials. The information available at the beginning of March 2021 is as follows:
- The new test is shorter (1-1/2 h) and cheaper (100 – 120 USD)
- It’s adaptable (which means the questions in some sections change depending on the test-taker’s skill level)
- Just like TOEFL ibt, it tests 4 basic language skills (Listening, Reading Speaking and Writing). However, the tasks are shorter and faster paced.
- Unlike TOEFL iBT, which is entirely academic, about 1/2 of TOEFL ESSENTIAS tests General English
- One part of the test, called “Foundational Skills” focuses on the Vocabulary Knowledge and Sentence Construction (in other words, Vocabulary and Grammar)
- The Speaking Section now contains a “Virtual Interview“, a simulation of a conversation with a pre-recorded interviewer
- There is an additional 5-minute personal video statement at the end (luckily, this is not scored)
- The scoring is different from any other TOEFL test so far. The TOEFL Essentials total score is on the scale of 1- 12, which is based on the average section score (also on the scale of 1-12). The “Foundational Skills” score is reported separately, in percentages.
- TOEFL Essentials will be available as an “at home” only test.
- 3 free sample tests should come out in May 2021
- The official TOEFL Essentials will become available in August 2021 (in the beginning, only once a week, later 3 times a week)
How similar is TOEFL Essentials to other versions of TOEFL?
Based on the information that has become available in early March this year, as well as my extensive experience with TOEFL exams, this newest version of the test appears to be somewhat similar to the old TOEFL CBT (in terms of their adaptability).
In terms of scoring, it actually resembles the scoring of the IELTS exam (another very popular English Proficiency test).
It’s easy to predict that the test takers will jump at the opportunity to take this version of TOEFL, but it remains to be seen which academic institutions will choose to accept the TOEFL Essentials score.