What Does an English Language Assessment Assess?

It’s simple, right? An English proficiency test measures an individual’s English level. In fact, there are quite a few variables, not to mention that different tests reveal different things.

At iTEP, we feel a comprehensive English language assessment should measure the test-taker’s command of the language both formally and informally, through verbal and written communication that would occur both inside and outside of the classroom. Of course, not every situation calls for a comprehensive assessment, and certainly not every exam on the market offers one.

Online English Proficiency TestQuick and easy

There are many online tools that can give a rough idea of a person’s English level. Some take only a few minutes. While these tests can be fun for an informal comparison between friends, they don’t have much of a practical application in companies or institutions of higher learning.

However, the desire to quickly get a basic snapshot of a person’s English ability is fairly widespread. Our answer to this need is iTEP Conversation, an exam that assesses only the test-taker’s speaking and listening abilities in 30 minutes and is designed to be low-key and friendly in tone. It can be taken at home or administered at workplace or campus.

As with all iTEP exams, the score is highly reliable and tracks linguistic sub-skills within each section. iTEP Conversation is designed to give an extremely accurate measurement of what it’s like to have a casual conversation with the test-taker in English.

English Language Assessments let you see The complete picture

It’s no coincidence that the flagship iTEP exams, iTEP Academic, iTEP SLATE, and iTEP Business all assess speaking, writing, listening, reading and grammar. These represent the full range of English skills and are evaluated by every major test on the market.

All five sections are crucial to getting a full understanding of a test-taker’s English level. In some countries, writing and reading in English are emphasized in the school system, but speaking isn’t taught at all. Conversely, individuals who have grown up around English speakers but never formally studied the language may have excellent listening and speaking skills, but a poor grasp of formal grammar.

Breakdown of CEFR proficiency levels

The best summary of what each level of English speaker might look like in an interaction in English is the CEFR standard. iTEP scores align with these levels to help test-takers and administrators understand what the iTEP levels mean.

  • A1 level (Beginner)
    • At this level of proficiency, one can understand and use fundamental phrases and familiar daily expressions in order to meet concrete daily needs. For example, people a this level can introduce themselves and answer basic personal questions such as about where they live and what things they have. They can interact easily as long as the other party talks clearly and slowly and is ready to help.
  • A2 level (Elementary English)
    • Individuals at this level can understand sentences and common expressions. They can communicate while performing routine and straightforward tasks requiring a direct exchange of information and can also describe their background and immediate environment in simple terms.
  • B1 level (Intermediate English)
    • English learners at this level can comprehend critical points of clear standard communication on popular matters often encountered in school, leisure, work, etc. They can discuss sports or current events, for example. Individuals at this level can also produce some simple connected text on matters of personal interest and can also begin to describe experiences, hopes, ambitions and briefly use reasons to support their plans and opinions.
  • B2 level (Upper Intermediate)
    • This level of proficiency indicates the ability to understand the critical points of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics. It also reflects the ability to interact with a level of fluency and spontaneity that affords regular interaction with native English speakers without either party straining. Moreover, English learners at this level can produce cogent and specified text on a variety of subjects.
  • C1 level (Advanced English User)
    • English learners at this level can comprehend an array of demanding, longer texts as well as recognize implicit meaning while expressing themselves spontaneously and fluently. They can also use language effectively and flexibly for professional, academic, and social purposes. This is a level at which learners can produce clear, comprehensive, well-structured text on complex subjects, displaying a controlled utilization of cohesive devices, transitional connectors, and patterns.
  • C2 level (Proficient English User)
    • At this level, English learners can quite easily comprehend everything read or heard. They can also summarize and synthesize information from multiple written and spoken sources, reconstructing accounts and arguments into a coherent presentation. They display total comfort with written and spoken language and express themselves precisely, spontaneously, and cogently even while delivering nuanced information or navigating complicated situations.

Capturing nuance

English Language Assessment

As you can see, an individual’s English level is a complex and subtle thing. An effective English language assessment is able to differentiate between English speakers of slightly different ability. In addition, an English assessment tool should provide the test-taker with detailed feedback. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses can be quite useful in the language acquisition process.

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Five Ways To Prepare For iTEP

While some English proficiency tests offer training programs, at iTEP, we intentionally do not. We feel strongly that the International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP) should be an aptitude test, which means it accurately measures the English skills you already have, not language skills you learned specifically for the test.

However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing test-takers can do to prepare for iTEP. The key is to minimize your anxiety and avoid any potential confusion.

International Test of English Proficiency

Here are 5 ways to help make sure your experience taking the test is as low-stress as communicating in English in your daily life. These ideas apply to all of our tests. Whether you’ll be taking iTEP Business at your workplace or iTEP SLATE or iTEP Academic for admissions or placement in school, all of our examsshare a similar intuitive structure, a convenient administration procedure, and a standardized scoring rubric.

Determine which skills will be assessed

One critical aspect of preparation is understanding what skills the exam is testing. iTEP exams assess some or all of the follow skills: speaking, writing, grammar, reading, and listening. It’s important to know which skills will be tested on the exam you are planning to take.

For admissions, institutions use iTEP Academic (college and university) or iTEP SLATE (young learners), which assess all five language skills. In some academic settings for placement and progress monitoring, only grammar, writing, and listening are assessed (these are the sections of iTEP that are scored instantly and automatically).

In some business settings, such as restaurants, hotels, and cruise lines using our iTEP Hospitality test, only speaking and listening are assessed because these are the skills most necessary for jobs in this field.

Learn the question formats of International Test Of English Proficiency

The questions you’ll find on the International Test of English Proficiency are in different formats than you will see on any other test. Becoming familiar with these formats ahead of time can make you more comfortable and relaxed during the test.

While previously it cost $10 to take the iTEP Practice Test, you can now take it online for free! The practice test uses questions that have been retired from the exam, so these are real test questions that just aren’t used anymore. You’ll be able to see exactly what the test looks like and how the different sections work. You will receive a score for the practice test which can help you get a sense of what your score may be on the exam.

Our social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Weibo also post retired test questions every week. Following these accounts is a great way to keep preparing for the test during your downtime playing on your phone.

 

Think like a grader

The Official iTEP Preparation Guide is a hard-copy book that is the only official guide to preparing for iTEP. In addition to examples and descriptions of every type of question you’ll see on the test, the Prep Guide provides information on how the different sections are scored. There are no secret tricks here, but it can helpful to have an awareness of all the different factors graders will take into account.

The speaking and writing sections of the test combine many language skills such as grammar,vocabulary, and pronunciation, so it can be helpful to give some thought to what graders will be looking for ahead of time.

Get comfortable with the clock

During the speaking and writing sections of iTEP, your response will be timed. Seeing a timer ticking the seconds away can make some people nervous if they’re not used to it. Find a friend and use the timer on your phone to practice speaking continuously for a certain period of time. On your own, you can practice writing out a complete thought within limited time.

Identify and focus on weaknesses

Either through taking an iTEP Practice Test or looking at recent homework assignments from an English class, try to get a sense of which skills your struggle with most. Then go deeper—within each language skill, iTEP also assesses sub-skills. For instance, the reading section assesses the test-taker’s performance on recalling details, understanding the main idea, recalling the sequence or order of information, synthesizing the information to draw conclusions, and understanding the vocabulary in the passage.

eenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

You likely will find that you are better at some of these sub skills than others. Even if you don’t have much time to build new language skills, being aware of your weaknesses can help you be more mindful during the test. For instance, if recalling details is hard for you, you may want to take extra care to slow down and absorb the details of the passage instead of rushing through once you see what it’s trying to say.

 

The best way to prepare for iTEP? Use your English skills in your daily life!

While this may be somewhat frustrating advice to some test-takers, our number one recommendation for preparing for iTEP is to learn the English language and practice using your skills. We’ve carefully designed the International Test of English Proficiency to be an English assessment that can’t be gamed or tricked. While familiarity with the test can help your score be accurate by eliminating nervousness, there is no way to artificially increase your score.

If you’re reading this the night before you take your test, don’t stay up late studying. You already know what you know. Take a practice test if you have time, but most importantly, get plenty of rest, eat well before the test, and take deep breaths during the exam.

 

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