We now know about an additional TOEFL change. Students can no longer access detailed PDF score reports. This means that students will be given an overall score for each of the sections on the test (reading, listening, speaking, writing) but will no longer get assessments for specific writing and speaking tasks.

To understand what I mean, here’s an image from an old score report PDF (taken from the Official Guide to the TOEFL, 5th edition):

You can see that in addition to their overall speaking and writing scores, the student was given a “level” assessment for five different sub-sections. These levels were: weak, limited, fair, or good. Each of the essays was a sub-section. Pairs of speaking questions made up the other sub-sections.

The bottom of the score report contained a chart to convert these levels to a numerical rubric score. In this way, students would know which of the tasks they excelled at, and which with they struggled with. This meant that the students could really focus when preparing to take the test for a second (or third… or twentieth) time.

Now, however, this information is no longer available. The new PDF score reports provide only overall scores in the speaking and writing sections. They are no longer given assessments for the sub-sections. They look like this:

In the past, if a student got 20 points in the writing section, he could see that he got a “good” in the independent task, and a “weak” in the integrated task. He would then know to focus on the integrated task in the future. Now, though, he will have no idea which task lowered his score, and which one he should focus on in the future.

Likewise, students who fail to get their target score have no way of knowing which speaking tasks they should focus on when they prepare to take the test again.

This is a problem, I think. On one hand, ETS gave students a gift with the shorter version of the test by making it possible to focus on a smaller number of tasks while studying. But the elimination of the score reports takes that gift right back.

If ETS brings back the score reports I will let you know right here.

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