testing center

Shanghai Unveils Largest English Proficiency Exam Center in Asia

The opening of Shanghai’s new testing center for TOEFL — the most popular English language proficiency test for universities — indicates that China’s study-abroad rates are likely to climb

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Hayley Zhao
10:54 AM HKT, Thu April 20, 2023 1 mins read

Chinese students hoping to study overseas will eventually encounter TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Most schools in English-speaking countries require non-native speakers to complete the test as part of their applications, and demand for the test is increasing among the 6 million Chinese students seeking education overseas.

With that in mind, Asia’s largest TOEFL testing center opened for business in Shanghai on April 14.

ets, toefl, international students

Officials from Educational Testing Service (the company behind TOEFL) celebrate the opening of the Shanghai Testing Center on April 14. Image via Weibo

China sends more international students to the U.S. than any other country, and the Chinese mainland has TOEFL testing locations in 44 cities.

However, that’s not nearly enough for the more than 3 million students taking the test each year, especially considering that many people need to take it multiple times to achieve a satisfactory score.

Amidst surging demand, the new testing center is the largest of its kind.

Located in downtown Shanghai, the facility has four testing rooms with a total of 254 seats; soundproof rooms and noise-canceling headphones ensure an ideal testing environment.

testing center, TOEFL

One of Shanghai Center’s testing rooms. Image via Weibo

To promote the opening of the new center, Educational Testing Service (the company behind TOEFL) even organized a fleet of sightseeing double-decker buses to take passengers on free tours through downtown Shanghai.

sightseeing bus, city tour

ETS’ city tour bus in Shanghai. Image via Xiaohongshu

ETS’ official site in China suggests students sign up three to six months in advance because limited testing appointments are available. Some Chinese students have even resorted to scalping spots or flying to nearby countries like Japan and Korea to spend three hours in front of a computer for the test.

Although ETS is a nonprofit organization, the price for a single TOEFL test is a whopping 2,100 RMB (around 305 USD) — and it’s expected to keep increasing in the future.

However, students and parents clearly aren’t scared off by the price. With greater numbers of Chinese students seeking education overseas, the presence of TOEFL in the mainland will only increase.

Cover image via VCG

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