What makes one English communication test easier or harder than the next?
Since its inception in 2008, iTEP has been an Internet-based test. However, because some institutions prefer paper-based tests, Boston Educational Services began offering a paper version of the iTEP Core exams.
Fort Hays State University has been putting these analog exams to good use in China. The Kansas-based school runs a program in China where students can obtain a degree from FHSU while doing most of their studies in their home country. Because this program necessitates testing large numbers of students at the same time, FHSU finds the paper-based iTEP Academic-Core to be the best option for their placement needs.
The paper-based version of our iTEP Academic-Core exam evaluates the same skills (reading, listening, grammar) as the Institutional TOEFL exam (TOEFL ITP), but does so at a fraction of the cost, with less administration time, and quicker delivery of results.
We at iTEP love to travel and meet educators around the world. This often entails going to some pretty cool places. But what could be cooler than Nashville, complete with live entertainment in the shadow of the iconic “Batman” building?
The AISAP (Association of Independent School Admission Professionals) Conference was full of creative people. It was great hear the song stylings of Doug Johnson, Nathalie Stovall, Marshall Altman and Ruth Collins. In a way, independent schools (which come in all varieties including boarding schools, day schools, single-sex or co-ed) are like singer-songwriters. They’re out there doing their own thing.
Independent schools often value being on the cutting edge of best practices and innovations. The independent schools we encounter are often excited to learn that institutions using iTEP exams for international admissions are promoted on our website and at our test centers around the world. Independent schools are eager to expand their applicant pool and grow their international programs.
Interestingly, however, many of these schools use TOEFL, even though this test is designed for college admissions. iTEP SLATE is the only widely available, Internet-based English assessment test created specially for the middle and high school age range. Using a test for the wrong age bracket is like trying to play a guitar part on a fiddle. It’s all going to work out better if you simply have the right tool.
Three years ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published this article about English proficiency testing. It’s still very relevant with a great deal of history of the field, stats, and profiles of different approaches for both the business and science of testing.
Yet, a lot has changed in three years. The number of players has multiplied, and the issues, both for institutions and test takers, have shifted. Here’s a brief breakdown of how some of the angles addressed in the Chronicle article have progressed.
- The story begins with an anecdote about a Russian student who struggled with English once she arrived in the US and was later found to have used a substitute to obtain her TOEFL score. This is actually something that can occur even with students who obtained their score honestly. One of our clients recently shared the story of a student who, despite a satisfactory score on an ETS exam, had to be removed from a chemistry course for lack of English proficiency. In order to avoid situations like these, iTEP gives administrators the ability to read writing samples and listen to speaking samples online.
- Despite economic hard times around the world, the number of foreign students studying in the US has steadily risen since 2010. So when Eileen Tyson, director of client relations at ETS, says, “We try to keep the test fee low in areas where students don’t have the ability to pay,” it may come as a surprise that the minimum price for TOEFL cited thereafter is $150 (it has since risen to $160). By offering iTEP at $99 regardless of location, iTEP strives to further widen the reach of English proficiency testing–and the access to education that comes with it.
- Over the past decade, but in the last few years especially, we have seen a move toward on-demand availability and programming in many fields. Students these days watch TV on their own schedule, shop online when stores are closed, and thanks to iTEP, can take schedule an English test on three days’ notice. This means fewer students having to delay applications to colleges or traveling to sit for a scheduled test (like TOEFL).
- With the increasing speed of technology, test providers have to work hard to stay ahead of cheaters. Some US schools are no longer accepting TOEFL scores from the US due to issues with time-transfer cheating, in which the day’s answers are obtained in the Eastern hemisphere’s earlier time zones, and sent ahead to the West. iTEP live streams test content from a bank of questions to ensure each individual test is different and not vulnerable to this security issue.
- As depicted in the Chronicle story, institutions each decide individually which tests to approve. There is no governing body to verify them. Indeed this is often a slow process. However, an increasing number of schools are now using newer, and in some cases multiple tests. iTEP is now accepted by more than 400 institutions. iTEP is also widely used by businesses, governments, and secondary schools.
The recent discovery of a common method of cheating on TOEFL, particularly tests taken within the US, has caused some institutions to announce that they are no longer accepting TOEFL scores for admissions. We at iTEP wanted to take a moment to reassure our community that iTEP is not vulnerable to this form of cheating and review the iTEP security measures which prevent it.
Reporters from The Epoch Times were able to purchase the answers for a TOEFL test with relative ease over the Internet. They used one of several websites that obtain the answers by sitting for the test in China and then sending them to the US, where, since it is in an earlier time zone, the test has not yet occurred. This “time transfer” of the test answers can be done from any later time zone to any earlier time zone on any given day because the TOEFL test content is identical everywhere around the world on that same day.
All of the iTEP tests, however, are streamed live over the Internet from a bank of questions. This means that the questions are chosen in real time, separately for each user. Not only is the test taken in China different from the one taken in the US, but each individual iTEP test is unique.
Image: TOEFL scores available for purchase online. Courtesy Epoch Times.