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Tape Blunder Hits TOEFL

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the United States has apologized for sending the wrong tapes for a TOEFL test, China's Ministry of Education said Tuesday.

The ministry's education center suspended the TOEFL test in Shandong University, Heilongjiang University and Zhengzhou University Saturday after receiving reports that the listening tapes were wrong.

More than 400 exam candidates could choose to have their examination fee refunded or sit another test later, the center said.

The center immediately notified ETS about the mistake.

ETS apologized for the mistake and said another test would be arranged soon. The education center and ETS would discuss ways to prevent similar mistakes in future.

In another development, there has been a sharp decline in the number of TOEFL candidates this year, the China Daily reported.

Although the total number of candidates is not yet known, Beijing had only 10,000 this year, a sharp decline from more than 30,000 per year in previous years.

The big drop was mainly attributed to the strict requirements for U.S. visas after the Sept. 11 attacks, insiders said.

But Chinese students also have additional choices to study abroad compared with years ago when TOEFL was the major channel.

Analysts say Chinese students are becoming increasingly practical about overseas study and many more students are seeking opportunities for personal development instead of paying huge sums to study overseas.

(Shenzhen Daily November 19, 2003)

US Visa Hurdle Turns Students from TOEFL
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