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September 29, 2004

TOEIC's New Rival

More details on STEP's new test that is set to rival the TOEIC, from The Nikkei Marketing Journal Friday edition. The Society for Testing English Proficiency Inc. recently announced that it will offer examinations in Business English through a tie-up with Cambridge University's English-language test development unit. The STEP BULATS tests, to be available only to companies for the time being, allow applicants to freely choose from among four exams that evaluate reading, writing, hearing and speaking skills, depending on their needs.

The society has prepared a written test and an exam taken on a personal computer, both of which are designed to evaluate reading and listening ability. Each test costs ¥2,900. The PC test allows firms to freely set exam dates and for applicants to take it at home, with the results immediately displayed upon completion. Those who sit for the written test will be notified of their scores in about five days. The results of the tests will indicate the range of work they are capable of. The society will offer writing and speaking tests beginning next April.

BULATS tests are already being given in Europe and China, and are also available to some extent in Japan. The British university unit aims to spread their use here by cooperating with the society, which conducts the STEP Test in Practical English Proficiency (Eiken). The society aims to obtain the top share in the corporate market for English proficiency tests. Alc Press Inc. and Berlitz Japan Inc. also focus on giving tests to measure business English skills.

Yesterday's Daily Yomiuri also carried an article ont he new test in its Language Connection column:
STEP BULATS offers alternative to TOEIC

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