Thursday, December 10, 2009

Test of Patience

I would never know the reason why admissions committee across the US decided that a masters degree from a US institution doesn’t exempt one from taking the TOEFL. One needs to have a bachelors degree as well as a masters degree from a US institution to be exempted from the TOEFL. What this means is that 21 years of my study in English, including the 2 years of masters in the US was not enough to convince people that I am well versed in English. The TOEFL scores expire every 2 years. Thus I was supposed to take the exam again.

My own alma mater told me they would reject my application unless a new TOEFL score was presented. This was when they had a copy of my almost perfect TOEFL score from 2005.

It was not so much the difficulty of the exam as it was the hassle of taking it again.

First, I was surprised to find that they had increased the fee to $170. Now that is a LOT of money to prove that you can understand English. Second, I didn’t find a single available date in my city for the next 4 months. This meant I had to drive to the nearest city that had an earlier date. The earlier date again turned out to be a 2 month wait. And the nearest city I could take it was in the neighboring state of Oregon, almost 200 miles or a 3 hour drive away. And the only time slot available was 7:30 in the morning.

You get the picture, right?

It wasn’t a test of my English. It was a test of my patience.

The pattern of the test was quite different from what I remembered the last time. First, there were now four sections instead of 3 – comprehension, listening, speaking, and writing. Second, the test seemed lengthier than it used to be. They gave me 5 passages in the comprehension alone, with 14 questions each. That sums up to 70 questions. The listening section had 3 passages with 17 questions each. That was 51 questions already. The speaking test was a new addition and had 6 passages. The writing section had 2 tasks, compared to the last time when there was 1. Difficulty-wise I don’t know, but more than that, it was an exhausting, five hour long exam. It started at 7:30 am and dragged until after noon.

And then they gave me two choices. Do you want to accept your score? Do you want to reject your score?
With a thudding heart, I clicked on the ACCEPT button.

Are you sure? It next asked me.

YES YES YES … I wanted to scream. I clicked on the YES button again.

Congratulations. You have successfully completed the test. Scores will be sent in 3 weeks.
What the …….

This isn’t a test of my English. This is a test of my patience.


1 comment:

Pavi!!!! said...

YIKES! this really sounds like torture!