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[Newsmaker] N. Koreans overtake S. Koreans in TOEFL score in 2020: report

This photo captured from DPRK Today, one of North Korea`s propaganda websites, shows an English class at a middle school in Pyongyang, the North`s capital. (Yonhap)
This photo captured from DPRK Today, one of North Korea`s propaganda websites, shows an English class at a middle school in Pyongyang, the North`s capital. (Yonhap)


North Koreans surpassed South Koreans in the Test of English as a Foreign Language, one of the leading English language proficiency tests, last year, a report showed Saturday.

According to a report from the U.S.-based Education Testing Service, the administrator of TOEFL, the average score in the internet-based TOEFL by North Korean nationals was 87 out of 120 in 2020.

North Koreans' average TOEFL score, up four points from 2019, was the same as the global average and one point higher than South Koreans' average of 86, up three points from the previous year, the report said.

By section, North Korean test takers were slightly superior to their South Korean counterparts in listening and speaking, it noted. The average score of the North Korean test takers was 22 out of 30 in reading, 23 in listening, 22 in speaking and 21 in writing. South Korean test takers averaged 22 in reading, 22 in listening, 21 in speaking and 21 in writing.

In 2019, the average TOEFL score of both South and North Korea was 83, which was the same as the world average.

North Koreans had an average TOEFL score of 78 as recently as 2010, but their score has risen by nine points in a decade.

ETS did not disclose the number of TOEFL test takers by country.

North Koreans are presumed to take TOEFL in China, Europe and other countries, as the isolated communist country has no TOEFL testing agency officially recognized by ETS.

It is also presumed that some pro-North Korean residents in Japan were included among the North Korean test takers. (Yonhap)
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