A lot of BestMyTest Stuff is Way too Similar to ETS Stuff

I don’t like BestMyTest. The main problem I have with the site is that it appears to be providing slightly modified versions of TOEFL content created by ETS (the makers of the TOEFL).

I teach writing, so after creating my account I immediately loaded up the writing questions on BestMyTest. I immediately noticed that many of them are just slightly modified versions of tests from The Official Guide to the TOEFL, the two Official iBT Test books and the TOEFL Test Practice Online. In my opinion, they really shouldn’t be charging students for this stuff.

For example, here’s part of a writing test from Volume 1 of the iBT Tests series:

“One theory holds that the Chaco structures were purely residential, with each housing hundreds of people. Supporters of this theory have interpreted Chaco great houses as earlier versions of the architecture seen in more recent Southwest societies. In particular, the Chaco houses appear strikingly similar to the large, well-known “apartment buildings” at Taos, New Mexico, in which many people have been living for centuries.”

Here’s Best My Test:

“One theory states the Chaco structures were residential and held hundreds of people. Supporters of this theory look to similar architectural structures in more recent Southwest societies. One structure, in particular, that is strikingly similar to the Chaco buildings is the apartment building at Taos, New Mexico, which has housed several people of the centuries.”

That’s not cool. Likewise, here’s part of a test from the Official Guide to the TOEFL:

“In the United States, employees typically work five days a week for eight hours each day. However, many employees want to work a four-day week and are willing to accept less pay in order to do so.”

Here’s a nearly identical passage on BestMyTest:

“Employees in the United States typically work five eight-hour days per week; however, many employees would prefer to work four days per week and are willing to accept less pay in order to do so.”

You know, I’m totally okay with copying from ETS. ETS is a big company and they can take care of themselves. I just don’t think a third party should charge students for that stuff. Especially since most students have already used the Official Guide.

And here’s the thing: all of the slight modifications done by the BestMyTest staff just make the questions worse.

 And the questions that don’t seem to come from any TPO? Well, they suffer the cardinal sin of not being very good. I’m talking about reading passages with two or three sentences per body paragraph. They aren’t realistic, and they aren’t good practice.

Below is a gallery of some of the copied content.

The Bottom Line

Teachers, make sure your students are studying with the best possible material. Students, ask a teacher to look at the materials you are studying with. When it comes to TOEFL, there is a real chance that they aren’t any good.

Hey, BestMyTest might be okay for the other sections of the test. I didn’t look at them too hard. But don’t use it for writing practice.

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