gives me great pleasure and an honor to write about my memoirs
as TOEFL Test Center Supervisor.
I believe it was
in 1975, when Educational Testing Service asked Hiroshima
International School (HIS) whether they could administer TOEFL.
At the time, HIS held its classes in a private Japanese residence
and was not able to meet the requirements necessary in administering
TOEFL. The principal of HIS came to Hiroshima YMCA to discuss
the matter. Another requirement at the time was that the Test
Center Supervisor had to be a US citizen and since I was the
only full time US citizen employed by Hiroshima YMCA, I was
In the 60's and
70's, many Japanese began to go to the USA to further their
studies and TOEFL scores became a requirement. I believe in
those days there were very few TOEFL test centers in Japan
and most were related to the US educational institutes. Therefore,
it was very rare for a private organization such as the YMCA
to be designated as a test center.
we started to administer the test, the number of test takers
were few but as TOEFL became widely known throughout the world
as a very reliable English Language test, many educational
institutions in Japan, including private prep schools, language
schools, and etc., encouraged their students to take TOEFL.
In the 80's, the number of test takers increased to over 200
at our test center compared to about 20 when we first started.
According to a
survey, it was stated that the average test scores of the
Japanese test takers was second to the lowest among all the
nations. Many educators in Japan felt disappointed, but from
my experience, I felt it was natural since most of the test
takers' intentions were not to study abroad but rather to
assess or measure their English language skills. I believe
Japan had the highest TOEFL test taker population.
If and when any
problems arose, the supervisor had to contact ETS directly
and if it was urgent, international calls had to be made.
Due to the time difference, it was very time consuming. Fortunately,
I do not recall any major problems at our test center, although
I remember calling in the middle of the night occasionally.
As the test takers
are the ones whom we must first take into consideration, it
is important to take immediate actions if anything occurs.
The Hiroshima YMCA is located in the middle of the city, very
easily accessible but on the other hand, at times, street
noise such as emergency ambulances or loudspeaker cars passing
by interfered, which the Associate Supervisors immediately
noted it in the irregularity report. After experiencing such
unexpected incident, rooms were carefully selected. Also test
takers often misunderstood the meaning of presenting identification
documents. Some who were not students nor working or did not
have a driver's license, often brought their health insurance.
In one case, one brought a copy of his family registry.
Another thing I
remember is the payment. Honorarium and all other expenses
were paid in US dollars. Because the exchange rate varied
time to time, sometimes it was not worth cashing the checks.
I remember I had kept some checks as a souvenir because it
would of cost more to cash them. Probably that was one reason
why the supervisor needed to be an American citizen. I did
not have a bank account in the US, but fortunately most of
the Associate Supervisors did.
It was such a relief
when CIEE began to function as TOEFL representative of Japan.
I am grateful to CIEE for the efforts put into making TOEFL
test administration run smoothly.
Test Center Supervisor