Understanding the TOEIC test mapping on to the CEFR

Proper English language assessment and capabilities are regarded as imperative in the strive for professional and academic development in a global environment.

Therefore, to address this need, the international language community has created a comprehensive and universally recognised framework for evaluating language proficiency in order to provide individual users with a valid and transparent description of their linguistic competencies. This educational outline is known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Understanding the CEFR

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, often abbreviated to the CEFR, is a specialised educational tool launched in 2001 to promote a shared approach to describing language proficiency and facilitate recognition of credible and legitimate assessments for language competencies. The CEFR covers 37 languages and is used by students, educators, and professionals worldwide. The developed framework describes five language skills, which include: Spoken Interaction, Spoken Production, Listening, Reading, and Writing. The Common European Framework of Reference measures language proficiency on a scale of six distinct levels.

The TOEIC® test, an established measure of precision.

The TOEIC® test is specifically designed to measure English language proficiency with a high degree of accuracy and precision in order to offer its test-takers a comprehensive assessment of their linguistic capabilities. Based on ETS research, the TOEIC® test is meticulously constructed to provide the most optimal measure of English proficiency ranging from the A2 level up to the B2 level, extending at the low end to A1 and at the high end to C1. This choice is informed by the fact that globally for most professions, education and training the proficiency required, is in this range.

A standardised linear English assessment needs a certain test length to ensure that all essential linguistic components are evaluated with the precision which a score user would expect. As a result, a single format test that claims to measure language proficiency reliably across all levels from A1 to C2 would either be far too long or will not provide the desired accurate assessment at all levels especially at the low and high end. An assessment like the TOEIC® test with a clearly defined scope offers a candidate a measure of language proficiency by administering tasks that are relevant to the test taker’s educational needs. It produces a meaningful score that directly informs their professional and academic development.

The C2 level of English proficiency

The C2 level of the CEFR is the highest level of language proficiency. The C2 level of (English) proficiency entails the expert command of interactive language skills in both a professional and academic context. A proper measurement focusing on the C2 level, as defined by the CEFR, requires an elaborate assessment that would be a frustrating experience for candidates with lower proficiency ranges. Furthermore, in addition to these skills, a proper C2 level assessment includes measurement of non-linguistic elements, such as subject matter expertise, intercultural competencies, and social/interactional skills. Due to the complex fundamental structure of the C2 level, it is optimally tested independently of other language proficiency levels or alternatively only in combination with the C1 level.

ETS Global offers a variety of English assessments, which have in common that they are tailored to the educational needs of the test-taker:

  • The TOEIC Bridge® test assesses oral and written comprehension for beginner to intermediate levels (A1 to B1 of the CEFR).
  • The TOEIC® Listening and Reading test assesses oral and written comprehension from beginner to advanced levels (A1 to C1 of the CEFR).
  • The TOEIC® Speaking and Writing tests assess oral and written expression from beginner to advanced levels (A1 to C1 of the CEFR).

To learn more about the TOEIC® tests click here.