National

TOEIC won't provide English tests for Japan's new university entrance exam

Kyodo

The domestic operator of TOEIC said Tuesday it will not provide its English proficiency test as part of the country’s standardized university entrance exam system due to start next April because the process is too complicated.

Seven other tests offered by the private sector, including Eiken and TOEFL, are still scheduled to be part of the new system.

But the withdrawal of the Institute for International Business Communication, which administers TOEIC — the Test of English for International Communication — is a blow to domestic universities and students preparing for the new exam.

“It became evident that … the process of accepting test applications, holding the tests and providing results would be far more complex than we had expected,” the institute said in a statement.

“We’ve reached the conclusion that it is difficult to respond in a responsible manner,” it said.

TOEIC consists of a listening and reading test, as well as a speaking and writing test. The two tests are held on different days, and candidates must make separate applications to take them.

An IIBC official said the institute was asked by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations to hold the two tests closer together but decided this would be too difficult.

The center said the institute is the only organization withdrawing and that it plans to sign a contract by the end of July with the six organizations administering the other seven tests.

According to an education ministry survey last year of third-year high school students, only about 2 percent of those who were planning to take a private-sector English test in the 2020 academic year said they would take the TOEIC exam.

“We will try to notify high schools and universities involved of (the withdrawal), in cooperation with the center for university entrance exams, so that test takers will not be disadvantaged,” education minister Masahiko Shibayama said at a news conference Tuesday.

Major cram schools were shocked by the decision, although many were still uncertain about the extent of the impact.

“We are very surprised,” said Yutaro Sato, head of the Yoyogi Seminar Education Research Institute.

“We cannot measure the extent of its specific impact, but at least it was good that the announcement did not come around fall, nearer the exam dates” from April, he said.

A public relations official at Kawaijuku Group, another cram school operator, said it has yet to decide how to respond to the matter, but expects “an impact to some extent.”