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Test of English Proficiency (South Korea)

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The Test of English Proficiency developed by Seoul National University or TEPS is an English proficiency test created by Seoul National University's Language Education Institute to evaluate South Korean test takers' English language skills. TEPS has been administered nationwide since January 1999. It consists of 200 questions which are divided into four sections: Listening (60 questions, 55 minutes), Grammar (50 questions, 25 minutes), Vocabulary (50 questions, 15 minutes), and Reading (40 questions, 45 minutes). TEPS scores are divided into the ten ratings ranging from 1 + to 5. It is designed to test applicants' communicative English skills and to minimize test-taker reliance on certain strategies such as rote memorization. A study[1] of the test indicated that it is valid and fair.

TEPS score is valid to be converted into TOEFL score and this conversion is used throughout many universities in the United States.


Test structureEdit

TEPS consists of four sections: Listening Comprehension, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension. The test has a total of 200 questions and takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes to administer. Scores are assigned on a scale of 10 points to 990 points total and incorporate Item Response Theory, which is also called the IRT.

  • Listening: Parts 1 to 3 consist of conversations, while Part 4 consists of short monologues in the form of lectures, broadcasts, announcements, advertisements, and so on. Dialogues for parts 1 and 2 are heard once, because the conversation fragments are consisted with a single or three spoken statements. In these two parts, the test taker should select the answer that best comes after the fragments. Also, part 3 dialogues and part 4 lectures and their corresponding questions are heard twice before the answer choices are presented. In these two parts, the test taker should answer the question about the main idea, supporting detail, and inference about the passage. All listening comprehension questions are presented solely in aural form, which prevents lucky guesses from seeing written options prior to listening to a question. The listening section consists of 60 questions (15 for each section), lasts for about 55 minutes, and is worth 400 points.
  • Grammar: The grammar section has a time constraint of 30 seconds per question, which helps measure a test taker’s true ability to apply grammar knowledge in real-life situations. This comprehension section has four parts, idealized to measure both colloquial and literary abilities. The grammar section consists of 50 questions, lasts for 25 minutes, and is worth 100 points.
  • Vocabulary: The TEPS vocabulary section measures a test taker’s ability to use vocabulary in authentic and practical contexts. The vocabulary section incorporates many items that test knowledge of collocations in order to measure the ability to distinguish among synonyms and related words, which could be confused when translated. This comprehension section has two parts, idealized to measure both colloquial and literary abilities. The vocabulary section consists of 50 questions, lasts for 15 minutes, and is worth 100 points.
  • Reading: The set of reading skills required for the TEPS reading comprehension section is identical to that required for reading tasks in everyday, academic, and work contexts. A test taker will therefore achieve good scores if they have read a diverse range of articles and trained themselves to grasp the context of an entire passage as well as sentence-level meaning. The test taker has about one minute to read each short, self-contained passage and answer a single question based on it. Because the time limit is relatively short and the passages cover a wide range of topics, it is not possible to answer the questions with rote memorization or test-wise strategies. This comprehension section contains three parts. In part one, consisted with sixteen questions, the test taker is asked to fill in the blank in the text. In part two, consisted with twenty one questions, the test taker is asked to answer three types of questions about the text, which is main idea, correct detail, and inference question. In part three, the test taker is asked to answer three texts to identify the sentence that has a detail which does not belong to the whole text. The reading section consists of 40 questions, lasts for 45 minutes, and is worth 400 points.

The new revised version of the test was introduced in May 2018, which includes four section. The listening section divided in to five parts with total 240 points and 40 minutes test time. Vocabulary and grammar section each have 60 points, with 25 minute test time and divided into further 2 and 3 parts respectively. The comprehensive reading section complete in 40 minutes and 240 points with 4 parts. The overall new test have 14 parts, 135 questions, 105 minute test duration and 0 to 600 points.[2]


  • March 1992: English language proficiency test development launched at Seoul National University
  • October 1998: Test name changed to TEPS.
  • January 1999: TEPS launched.
  • March 1999: TEPS adopted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a selection test of Junior Professional Officers for the UN agencies.
  • January 2000: TEPS online registration begun.
  • September 2006: TEPS administered for the first Korean astronaut selection.
  • August 2008: TEPS-Speaking & Writing launched.


  1. ^ Inn Chull Choi, 1999, "Test Fairness and Validity of the TEPS," Language Research 35(4):571-603
  2. ^

External linksEdit