I thought it would be easy. As simple as making spaghetti. A cinch. A breeze. A picnic. A piece of cake. An easy A…
But I was wrong.
Taking the TOEIC Test (Test of English for International Communication) as a native English speaker was tougher than I had anticipated.
I expected to get 100% as the questions seemed pretty clear and the grammar (though absolutely NOTHING like the way people actually speak) was fairly straightforward.
So, when I learned that I had missed two questions, I was duly chagrined. I would no longer be able to walk into my Test Prep class as a Teacher with any dignity or semblance of authority. My students would whisper and giggle in the corners, passing notes that read: “Miss –C, Miss –C, She ain’t got da skillz to teach no English to me!” and I would cower on my back-pedalling unicycle when asked to confirm “the most common, American usage” of the subjunctive.
I still don’t know which questions I missed.
But, I have my suspicions.
I remember finding the “listening” questions most trialing, as they pretended to resemble real-life conversations. In these questions, I was forced to listen to a phrase or question posed by a stereotypical Aussie, Brit or American, and then asked to choose the appropriate response.
One question went like this:
“Excuse me. Can you tell me what time the bus leaves?”
a) Yes, on Monday.
b) No, I’m not interested.
c) Yes, at 1:30.
d) No, he’s my brother.
Now, I knew I was supposed to choose the BEST of all possible answers. Since, I had absolutely no idea what bus the slow-speaking, elocution-trained English man was talking about, I chose b). Was my test graded unfairly because I didn’t care about the English voice actor’s bus schedule?
The other listening question I remember giving me difficulty was:
“Mary, what should we have for dinner tonight?”
a) Let’s go to the movies.
b) Pizza and salad.
c) At 8:30.
d) My sister and her husband.
Pizza and salad??! Who eats pizza and salad? Pizza and beer--yes, but... Clearly the answer was d).
Those test writers are sneaky bastards, I tell you.