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WOEFL—the Next Generation

At last, the iBT... the Next Generation WOEFL test that assesses language skills you might actually find useful, like speaking.

For years English language teachers had been telling us that WOEFL was “utter crap”. Until recently we paid no attention, but when universities started demanding IELTS scores instead, we realized we had better do something about it.

To study at an American university, of course, you do not need to be terribly bright or hard-working. However, you will need to understand people who speak slightly faster than the robots we used in our old listening tests. You may also need to say things in seminars occasionally, like “Where can I download the answers off the Internet?” or “You mean in Europe they believe in evolution?”

For years the celebrated WOEFL Structure paper assessed students’ grasp of crucial grammar points. This paper has been abolished. Still, fans of the original series will be able to buy the old tests on DVD.

The original test was criticized for its idiosyncratic language, with expressions such as Illogical, Captain or Phasers on stun or Beam me up, Scotty. The new test reflects real English use in everyday situations on a galactic starship, with authentic idioms such as Resistance is futile and Make it so!

Original WOEFL examiner

Next Generation WOEFL examiner

Some features of the new test

  • Speaking. A natural and authentic test, in which you speak continuously into a computer headset about a topic for 60 seconds. Useful for panel game contestants.
  • Integrated tasks. Listen, read, take notes and write or speak! It’s just like real university life, in which you faithfully parrot the lecture or Wikipedia article.
  • That’s about it, really. You’ll have to throw away all those old WOEFL books and CDs and buy new ones, of course.

The evolution of WOEFL

  • Mud Based Test—MBT (dates unknown)
  • Stone Based Test—SBT (3300–2700 BC)
  • Papyrus Based Test—pBT (2700–280 BC)
  • Parchment and Vellum Based Test—PVBT (280 BC–AD 1100)
  • Paper Based Test—PBT (AD 1100–2006)
  • Computer Based Test—CBT (1990–2006)
  • Internet Based Test—iBT (2005– )
  • Hyperspace Based Test—hBT (still under development)