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Overview of International Tests

An Overview of
International Tests
Helen Huntley
Senior English Language Fellow 2007-08
Ministry of Education and Training,
Hanoi, Vietnam

Why Change the Test?
3 Important Reasons:

Speaking has been added

Focus on the ability to communicate

Measures not only how much the student
knows about English, but how well he or she

can use it

Uses integrated tasks that reflect how
language is actually used

Integration of Skills & Tasks
What are integrated tasks?
Questions that require use of more than one skill at
a time



Read /listen /write
They give us a better picture of how well the
student can communicate in English.

iBT Test Format

Internet-based test delivered in secure testing
centers on fixed dates

Test time: 4 hours

No computer tutorial – instructions given in each

Not computer adaptive

Note-taking allowed

Microphone used for the Speaking section

Typing required for the Writing section

Human raters used for Speaking and Writing

Timing of Sections

Test Section # of Questions Timing
3-5 passages, 12-14
questions each
60-100 minutes
4-6 lectures, 6
questions each
2-3 conversations, 5
questions each
60-90 minutes
10 minutes
6 tasks: 2
independent and 4
20 minutes
1 integrated task
1 independent task
20 minutes
30 minutes

Reading Section I
Academic Reading Skills
1. Reading to find information

Scanning for key facts/information

Reading fluency and rate
2. Basic comprehension

Understand main idea, major points and details, vocabulary in
context, pronoun references

Make inferences
3. Reading to learn

Recognize organization and purpose

Understand relationships between ideas

Organize information into a category chart or summary

Infer the connection of ideas in the text

Reading Section II
Length: approx. 700 words each
Categories of academic texts



Historical /biographical event/narrative
Question Formats

4 choices – single answer

4 choices – single answer to insert a sentence

‘reading to learn’ Qs with 4+ choices and 1+

Reading: New Features

Reading to Learn questions
sorting/recognizing organization/relationships
category chart

Paraphrase questions
multiple choice of correct paraphrase of a sentence from

special purpose words and phrases

Listening Section I
Academic Listening Skills (lectures/conversations)
1. Listening for basic comprehension

Comprehend main ideas/important details
2. Listening for pragmatic understanding

Recognize a speaker’s attitude/degree of certainty

Recognize a speaker’s function or purpose
3. Connecting and synthesizing information

Recognize the organization of information

Understand relationships between ideas

Make inferences and draw conclusions

Make connections

Recognize topic changes, examples, digressions, aside
statements, introductions, conclusions

Listening Section II
4-6 lectures, 3-5 minutes long (500-800 words)
2-3 conversations, 3 minutes long, 12-25 exchanges
Pictures on screen to assist listening
Categories of academic listening tasks

Monologue by professor

Interactive lecture

Conversations in an academic setting
Question Formats

4 choices – single answer

4 choices – 1+ answers

Ordering of events or steps in process

Matching objects or text to categories in chart

Listening: New Features

Note taking is allowed

Conversations/lectures longer

Language more natural

One lecture in British/Australian English

New multiple choice question type:
attitude, degree of certainty, purpose

Replaying of portions of listening

Speaking Section I
Academic Speaking Skills
1. In classrooms

Respond to questions

Participate in academic discussions with other students

Synthesize and summarize what they have heard or read

Express their opinions on topics under discussion
2. Outside the classroom

Participate in casual conversations

Express their personal opinions

Communicate in campus situations

Speaking Section II
iBT allows ETS to capture speech and score responses in a
standardized and fair manner.

approx. 20 minutes long

2 independent tasks about familiar topics

Responses based on personal experience

4 integrated tasks

2 Reading/Listening/Speaking tasks

2 Listening/Speaking tasks

Responses based on what was read and heard

Academic and campus-based material

Short listening and reading material

Speaking: Independent Tasks
1. Personal preference

Express and defend a choice from a given category (important
person, events, activities)

Prep time: 15 secs; response time: 45 secs
2. Choice

Make and defend a personal choice between two contrasting

Prep time: 15 secs; response time: 45 secs

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