The Chosun published a story yesterday about exam tourism.  It reports that Chinese students are flocking to Korea to take the TOEFL and IELTS tests due to a shortage of testing centers in China.  Perhaps half of IELTS test-takers in Korea are Chinese nationals, according to the article.

It is mentioned that there are only 95 IELTS test centers across China, despite a testing volume of about 500,000 per year.  Yikes! I am not sure how many TOEFL test centers there are in China, but I believe that is the test’s number one market.

Apparently, test-takers previously traveled to destinations like Thailand and Vietnam to take the tests, but have switched to Korea now that the ban on Korean culture in China has been lifted.

Regular readers will recall my interview with a TOEFL and IELTS teacher in China who mentioned that due to a shortage of seats in testing centers, students hire agents to sit in front of a computer and nab appointments as soon as they become available.

The problem is likely due to the fact that ETS and BC/IDP don’t really run the (whole) show in China like they do in other countries.  Test registration is instead handled by the NEEA, which is an organ of the Chinese state.  That can, sometimes, create inefficiencies.  Note that at-home testing is somewhat limited in China and that TOEFL test-takers in that country must use a workaround involving an ETS office in Hong Kong.  I believe the at-home IELTS is simply not available, but correct me if I’m wrong, please.

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that both tests are about $70 cheaper in Korea.  Good deal.

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