South Koreans and North Koreans record similar TOEFL scores, despite trillions spent on private English lessons in the South. Radio Free Asia on Thursday said according to a study of TOEFL scores between September 2005 and December 2006 after the TOEFL went online, South Koreans on average earned 72 points out of the full 120 points, compared to 69 for North Koreans.
North Koreans score higher than the Japanese, who record 65 points -- mainly because North Korean applicants are mostly from the elite, like students studying abroad or staff of the Foreign Ministry. Some 6,000 North Koreans took the test during the period.
Ah, yes, North Koreans outscore the Nips. Had to get that in there, didn't they? Some would argue that it's a flawed study since, as the paper says, North Koreans taking the test are relatively well-off, whereas "South Koreans account for 19 percent of TOEFL takers worldwide." But that sort of supports the argument I and others have made: that the TOEFL and other standardized English exams oughtn't be used by so many South Koreans, especially when they're clearly not ready for it. Reversing that trend would mean that, at least, South Koreans wouldn't rank as one of the worst TOEFL-taking nations.