Why so many people rush to take a test like TOEIC and keep hurting their pride or wasting precious money for meaningless lessons, when there're heaps of interesting things to do out there? That's one of mysteries I haven't been able to understand. But since I was feeling frustrated and staggered about my own learning/enjoying English, I seem to get a glimpse of their thirst for those tests.
Now matter how unreliable or pointless those English tests are, they won't fail to attract Japanese people because people need to have a concrete goal that is reachable in a certain period of time whatever they decide to learn. You want to prove yourself with something invisible such as a good score or a certificate. Once you see the progress, then you think you'd be strongly motivated and be able to keep learning for a much greater achievement.
The progress of your English, however, is hard to make visualize if not with a test score, and make the matter worse, it's very difficult to feel the progress as you become better and better at English. In the beginning of learning, you'll be able to learn lots of new words or grammatical rules, so you can tell how much you progressed. But that won't keep happening as the time passes. Once you reach the lever that you can manage almost anything you can imagine, a graph of the progress will be like a plateau; flat. You keep studying just like you've done before, but soon you start to feel you're not making any progress at all. How irritating and discouraging that would be. And that's when you'd start to think about taking a test and keep the record of your progress with a number.
After all, it doesn't matter for many English learners if the test is good or not to measure your English ability properly. The test is there and that's smartly priced; 5000yen, then it's natural for people to think it wouldn't hurt anything with taking a test once or twice. But they haven't realized; that's the gate to a vicious circle of forever remaining a learner/consumer...