Why should an English-language proficiency test be backed by research?

“Test providers should carefully research the types of tasks students need to perform and replicate such tasks as accurately as possible.”

English-language classrooms around the world all look and function differently, writes Spiros Papageorgiou of ETS. But one common thread among them is that teachers of English consistently look for reliable information from language tests to assess whether their students have achieved specific learning goals.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in an English-speaking country are typically asked to submit scores from a language test to demonstrate that they can cope with the language demands their university classes require.

As such, developers of these language tests should be establishing a rigorous program of research in order to support the intended uses of these tests, and further be able to provide evidence that substantiates claims about what test takers know or can do based on their scores.

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