Cross-national comparisons of English proficiency tests

Year: 1994

Author: Griffin, Patrick E., Gillis, Shelley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The International English Language Testing System was developed as a joint project between the British Council and the International Development Program of the Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP). A series of tests was developed assessing English proficiency in Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Trials of the tests were undertaken throughout the world. Data were collected in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Australian project team gathered trial data mostly in Asia while the UK project team gathered data in Europe. Receptive skill tests consisted of a range of multiple choice, supply and completion items. Productive skills were assessed using proficiency rating scales developed specifically for the tests. Special purpose tests were developed for Arts and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, Life and Medical Sciences and General Training.

Analyses of the tests enable cross-national analyses of item behaviour and the establishment of international calibration of test items. Comparison of European and Asian data illustrates slightly different response patterns. Implications for Australian Higher Education institutions accepting international students are drawn from the data analyses.