Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It took me longer than it would have taken most 20-somethings to assimilate the deluge of information I had to absorb from those ETS tutorials, so when I finally signed in to take my certification exam, it was September 14, and I had until midnight to get certified. I signed in using the login ID and password with which I'd been provided...

...and discovered that ETS had mis-assigned me to take the TOEIC certification exam. D'oh!

I tried several times to re-log back in to the testing site, hoping that a "refresh" might bring up the correct exam (TOEFL iBT Writing), but no dice. Clicking various links on the TOEIC screen proved equally unhelpful. Unsure what to do next, I wrote an email to ETS, and hope to hear back from them in the morning. I asked for an extra day to take the exam, since I'd been given the wrong exam to take, but also said that I'd understand if they said no: I had, after all, waited until the last possible day to take the certification exam. Had I taken the exam earlier, I could have informed ETS earlier.

Truth be told, I'm a bit intimidated by the prospect of the exam. Then I worked my way through the exercises in the tutorial, I was disconcerted to discover that ETS and I operate on very different wavelengths regarding how to "think through" an essay evaluation. As I mentioned before, the confidentiality agreement prevents me from getting into details, but I think it's safe to say that I'm not sure I understand ETS's preferred rationale, especially for the Independent Writing section. I managed to rate most of the essays in the same ballpark as ETS did, but I apparently tended to err on the side of mercy: if I gave an essay a score of "3," ETS's rating would almost invariably be a "2." If one were to tally my performance purely in terms of right/wrong, then I'd say I averaged around 30% in the Independent Writing section. By contrast, I averaged over 70% with the Integrated Writing section, whose assessment criteria seem more clear-cut and less subjective.

Despite having gone through over 80 pages of material, I still have no idea how I'll be graded on the actual certification exam. If the exam grades purely on a right/wrong basis, then at this point I'd say I have little chance of passing. If, however, it's enough to be one point off in my ratings, then I've got a fighting chance.

Upshot: I need a Plan B, and fast, because there's a good chance I won't be working with ETS. But tonight, the night when everything was supposed to come together, felt more like an anticlimax than anything else.


No comments: