Taking a TOEIC exam in Oklahoma City (2004/06/19)

last updated on 2004/06/21

I wanted to take a TOEIC, Test of English for International Communication, and was thinking about it for a while. I missed the last one since the registration deadline had passed already. So, I decided to take on in June. There is no available site in Wichita and the nearest location available is Oklahoma City, which is about 2 and half hours away from Wichita. I hate to drive that long to take a test, but sometimes I have no choice.

The cost to take an exam is $65.00, you can go to www.TOEIC.com and register. You will get the result in two weeks.

Things to bring

I spent about two days to review the material. I have never taken the exam, and I was not sure what to study for.

A little known facts about TOEIC score

Getting higher score does not guarantee of getting high paid job, or English skills which are proficient in professional conversations. Many Japanese companied consider using the exam score to measure the persons' English skills. The TOEIC, in fact, was developed by the ETS, Educational Testing Service, upon the request from a department in Japanese Government seeking a method to measure a person's ability to communicate in English.

A person took TOEIC exam will receive a certificate in any of five colors depending on the score the person gets.

Source: http://www.toeic-europe.com/pages/eng/the_test_pres.htm /

There are several other format available and some of them even have identification photo on it.

Some scaling for both Listening and Reading portion

Source:  http://www.toeic.ca/cae/cae_2e.htm /



In general, you should have 850 or more to be considered as good English communicator in my country. Many companies require employees at executive position to have at least 800 points.

Going to Oklahoma City

I left my house at 7:50am, a little before I had actually planned. There are still some storm system moving across eastern Kansas, so I thought myself giving more time. I did not want to be late. I expected the driving time to be around 2:30 to 3:00.

I took I-35 South to drive down to Oklahoma. Unfortunately the weather was stormy and I had to drive with extra care.

As usual, driving on the rainy highway is no fun.

At south of Wellington, the Kansas Turnpike System ends, I paid $1.35 and resume heading down south. Sometime the rain got so heavy and I was afraid my car will get hydroplaned and span out of control. I guess the whole situation gave me too much stresses, I had to stop at nearby gas station to use the restroom. After driving for a while, the rain stopped but I had to drive slow in some construction sites.

Besides rain, driving on construction zone is also no fun.

After getting off from the reduced speed areas, I was driving on the highway just as other cars do. I have about one more hour driving.

When I start to see upcoming cars with lights on, I have to be ready...

When I start seeing lightening, I have no choice but be ready for it. I don't have time to stop on the highway, waiting for the storms to pass since I need to get to Oklahoma City by 12:00pm (and I need to eat before that). The rain started almost immediately and I have seen some part of the road covered with fair amount of water. My car can no longer provide enough traction to go more than 60mph. Sometimes I had to drive at 40mph since the tire treads are almost worn out.

I hate driving in stormy weather (Never try this on the road if you are not experienced in driving and taking pictures at the same time!)

After driving in such bad weather, I finally saw the exit for I-44 West, then I got off at North Pennsylvania Avenue, heading down to NW 23rd.

Lunch at McDonald's

What an ugly looking cook, is that Donald?

The famous Route 66, a highway between Illinois and California, is one of the best known travel route. There are many old looking buildings including this McDonald's. The restaurants and other places retain their environment from 50s and 60s.

I had a Big Mac value meal. I felt tired so I needed to get some caffeine too.

Taking TOEIC

The exam was held at Oklahoma City University. It looked very old and many houses in surrounding area are looking old as well. The university is actually facing the 23rd street, which is the old route 66. After going back and forth on campus several times, I finally found the Harris Hall, which look like a motel, assuming this used to be a residence hall. The rooms in the building is small but enough to put about ten people. There was a lady who took care of examinees, I talked with her a little since I did not know about their ELS program. The ELS program is organized and conducted by a company in the U.S. providing the standard program throughout the world. The Intensive English Language Center at Wichita State University is not a part of the system so I was curious. They have 12 levels and you have to pass 9 in order to get into undergraduate and all 12 for the post graduate degrees. She was concerned about the decrease in enrollment due to tighter regulation for international students this semester. We had a total of 8 people taking the test and they are from Japan, Korea and Taiwan. I figured that the only companies in those countries require the score. I bet employers in south America or Europe will not going to ask how much English they can speak. (However, there are TOEIC also available in Canada and some European countries.)

The ELS building of Oklahoma City University

The test began at 12:00pm, starting from the listening part. I had to listen for many short conversations to answer 100 questions. First part was to see a picture and select the one which sentence is describing the photo. Mostly they are office conversations and a bit felt odd since I am an engineering student. Maybe because I was a bit stresses out after driving in the storm and filled up my stomach with full of junk food about half hour ago, I felt sleepy and I just answered last several problems without paying much attention. The second part was the reading and had also 10 problems. I have to finish the incomplete sentences, find errors on the sentences and read and answer questions about letters and advertisement. They do not require long reading like TOEFL does, so I felt they are easier to handle. I finished my exam 15 minutes before the time's up.

The overview of the OKCU. They have a tall tower which I don't find here at Wichita State...

It was raining bad in the morning but by the time when the exam is over, the outside looked fine. I took this opportunity to drive around the city. However, I did not plan to stay long.

Route 66

The historically famous Route 66 is a one of the best known national highways connecting between Chicago and Los Angeles. The interstate highway system took over the most of the portion but there are some people crazy about this old road system.

Ann's Chicken Fry House


Oklahoma State Capital

Since I am in the capital city of the state, I just decided to pay a visit to the state capital. Like the one in Kansas, they have a statue on the top of the dome. Well, let's see...

Oil rig. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas is famous for the land with crude oil.

Capital House

The statue is a native American with a spear. Looks cool.


Oklahoma City National Memorial

This park is located at where Murrah Federal Building was once stood. The building was severely damaged by a bombing attack took place in April 19th, 1995. Due to the extended damage on its structure, the whole building was taken down after recovery effort was concluded. (Note: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were charged for this crime. Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death in June 13, 1997 and executed on June 11th, 2001. Terry Nichols was sentenced for life in prison on June 4th, 1998.)

To be honest, Oklahoma City is not that big city, and the building was not stood in the middle of the skyscrapers, not like the World Trade Center buildings in New York, but still the incident occurred back in 1995 makes this place very special.  

The memorial wall. The writing on the wall says,

"We come here to remember

Those who were killed, those who survived and those who changed forever.

May all who leave here know the impact of violence.

May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity"

Looking from 9:01am wall to 9:03am wall (These gates are set in this way to note the 9:02am, when the bomb exploded)

Like ground zero, there are some pieces of the building still standing today

Overview of the park. I am glad that the weather is nice than the morning.

9:01am wall, looking up the sky

Chairs representing the personnel died in the bombing, each has name of the person on it. Smaller ones for children, and larger ones for the adults.

Using the reflection of the lake

The tree at the center is called "Survivor Tree" and the building you see is the museum. I did not have extra $7.00 to spend neither the parking fee... (but I am not going to tell where I parked!)

Going home

After visiting the park, I just wanted to go home since I feel tired. The weather is not predictable so this is another good reason I headed back earlier. The way back was a lot easier than the morning. It's sunny and no winds. I also memorized the location of construction sites so I knew where to slow down. The gas price in Oklahoma was cheaper than in Kansas, so I took advantage of it. I stopped at Love's, a kind of place where you can buy gas, pops and other stuffs. Some places have Subway restaurant inside so you can have your lunch.

You have to visit Love's if you are in Oklahoma!

I think Oklahoma has more green than Kansas

On the way back was simply sunny.

The trip took shorter than I thought since the cars around were driving about 80mph. They will get the ticket for me instead anyway. I was so tired when I got back, so I took a nap.

Later I received the certificate...

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