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Italy to India, TOEFL scores high on hardsell

For the first time in 60 years, the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service is going to raise awareness about TOEFL and GRE through outdoor and online media, reports Snehal Rebello.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2008 01:24 IST
Snehal Rebello
Snehal Rebello
Hindustan Times

Don’t be surprised if you soon see advertisements on BEST buses screaming out about TOEFL — Test of English as a Foreign Language — which evaluates proficiency in English.

It would be an unusual sight, given the fact that for the first time in 60 years, the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service (ETS), that creates and administers tests like TOEFL and Graduate Record Examination (GRE), is going to raise awareness through outdoor and online advertisements.

ETS, a household name for the thousands in India aspiring to make the American dream a reality, will soon target applicants directly, instead through the traditional channels of institutes.

“ETS realized that more students today are getting their information from the Internet, and they are spending more time in online communities and video sites,” Karen Bogan, ETS spokesperson, told HT.

“ETS has not traditionally reached out directly to test takers. We have focused on talking to institutions and helping users of TOEFL scores understand why they are valid and reliable.”

With 75,000 students across India taking the TOEFL annually, ETS started an outdoor advertisement campaign on buses and bus shelters across several cities, like Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Bangalore about a month back.

And while most of these advertisements will be in English, ETS tried to go local in Bangalore with campaigns in Kannada.

With the campaign focusing on the fact that the test can take students anywhere they want to go, Bogan said: “We want Indian students to know that TOEFL scores are accepted in US, more than 100 universities in the UK, 40 Indian universities as well as universities in Canada and Australia.”

With about 51,200 applicants appearing for GRE every year in India, similar advertisements for the examination are on the anvil for January.

On the international front, ETS has launched two humorous video clips on a small microsite with a spelling game for Italian students that were posted on YouTube, while in China an online quiz and free interactive DVDs are being used for the campaign.