Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Competitor for TOEFL.

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Pearson Launches Computer-Based Test for English Proficiency as Qualification to Admissions to Foreign Universities.

One of the most important steps for acquiring admission in foreign universities is to take the English fluency test, which evaluates the English reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities of the applicant. Students have to undertake this English proficiency test for studying abroad in the countries like, USA, UK, and Australia. This test is conducted to assess the English fluency of the students from non-English speaking countries.

Pearson Educations recently announced the launch of the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTEA). It is a new computer-based academic test of English language proficiency that measures the English language skills of non-native English speakers who are seeking admission to institutions where English is the language of instruction.

This is the third company proposing such a test; the other two that currently dominates the market are TOEFL, which is managed by an American organisation, the Educational Testing Service and IELTS the International English Language Testing System, run by a British-Australian group.

Pearson and English academic test

According to Pearson there is an estimated two million test- takers around the world annually and China and India represent 33 percent of it. In India alone there are approximately 300,000 test takers annually. On the other hand, Universities across Europe are setting up programmes in English to attract students from other countries. Keeping this increasing demand in mind, Joseph Rospars, vice president EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and India, of Pearson Language Test (PLT) says, it was a "natural evolution" for Pearson to enter the test-taking market, since they believe that English is soon becoming the lingua franca of the world.

The PTE has partnered with Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Rospars emphasised on the unique features of PTE that will give the test edge over the other available products in the market. The test was painstakingly developed through field tests that were conducted worldwide involving more than 10,400 international students.

Advantages of PTE

Rospars said one of the advantages of the test over the other tests is that the test could be completed in a single three-hour session and the scores could be received online in maximum of five working days. The test can be scheduled at a time and date that suits the student. Students can assess their results and send their results directly to unlimited number of institutions of their preference without an additional fee. The scores can even be sent to government departments such as immigration agencies and to any other organisation that requires academic English.

Claiming security of paramount importance, Pearson has added certain features to deal with the problem of proxy test takers. Biometric system is being used to prevent any sort of tampering and the tests will be conducted only at Pearson test centres of with those with which they have signed up. Above all the whole process is conducted online so that leaves no room for tampering.

Institutions and test recognition

Pearson claims that the test has already been recognised, or is in the process of being recognised, by more than 800 programmes around the globe. They also believe that the new test will be able to serve the growing need of universities to measure the English-language proficiency of students from countries around the world seeking to study an English-speaking institutions, including a mounting number of test takers from India. The colleges and universities now accepting PTE Academic scores are located in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, UK and US. Some prominent institutions that has recognised and are accepting PTE Academic scores are the London Business School, University of British Columbia, University of Edinburgh, Yale University's Yale college, Queen's University Belfast, HEC Paris. The test, according to Pearson is designed to precisely predict the ability of test takers to function in an English-speaking academic environment.

Pearson in India

According to Rospars, India is the second largest market for test-takers after China. With an increasing number of students opting to study at foreign universities India has become a major market for test-takers.

The test will be available to test takers in India from November 2009. The test will be delivered through nine Pearson centres in India this year and another six by next year. Those interested in taking the test will be able to register and schedule their test online at a date and time that suits them. The fee for the test in India has been set at US$160.

Pearson is planning to provide a lot of learning resources in terms of training, online resource library available for students. Rospars says the company plans to arrange coaching for PTEA, as well. Their website provides practice tests for self studies, as well as the list of institutions worldwide that is accepting PTE scores. Since Pearson has joined hands with the Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns the Graduate Management Admission Test, candidates registering for both PTEA and GMAT can take a full, free mock test of the English test, for a limited period.


IELTS is widely used in the UK and Australia and also recognised by most American and Canadian universities, including Harvard Business School; mainly American universities use TOEFL, though also accepted in the UK and Australia. Before students can take the PTEA test, Universities must accept the test. Right now about 50+ Universities in US accept PTEA exam for Graduate School Admission, whereas almost all the colleges and universities accept TOEFL. So, Pearson is still working on getting acceptance from maximum number of institutions. "TOEFL has been in the market for 23 years, although PTE is relatively very new, we have the advantage of technological advancement. By introducing the technology of automated scoring, we are definitely making a difference with the existing products in the markets", adds Rospars.

The unique feature of PTE Academic that Rospars refers to is that test taker's verbal responses are marked using Pearson's automated scoring technologies. It is based on Pearson's belief that unlike human judgement that can be influenced by a variety of factors, an automated scoring system is impartial. This means that the system is not "distracted" by language-irrelevant factors such as test-takers' appearance or personality such as might happen in spoken interview tests. In addition, the impartiality of automated scoring means that the test-takers can be confident that they are being judged solely on their language performance and institutions can be confident that they would have earned the same result, regardless of where in the world the test had been administered.

Copyright 2009 Media Mates, distributed by

Source Citation
"New Competitor for TOEFL." Educare 31 Oct. 2009. General OneFile. Web. 14 Dec. 2009. .

Gale Document Number:A212284419

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