English Language Proficiency Tests as predictors of student performance

Year: 1996

Author: Poedjosoedarmo, Gloria R., Hsui, Victoria Y.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Applicants to the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore who have not obtained a pass in GP at "O" level must take an English Proficiency Test (EPT) as one of the requirements for admission. The test contains a written section which tests knowledge of English grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension (as indicated by completion of cloze passages), and oral comprehension, and an oral production section which consists of reading a passage and giving a short extemporaneous talk. The test is intended to ensure that students admitted to the NIE have an adequate command of the English language to (1) carry out their academic studies and (2) present an appropriate model of the English language to their students when they themselves become teachers.

In the present paper the researchers will look at the performance of students who took the test and were admitted to the NIE in academic subjects and in teaching practice. An attempt will be made to determine the ability of the test to predict success in academic studies in general and the ability of certain parts of the test to predict ability in certain areas. For example, it might be expected that high scores on the oral section of the test would correlate highly with success in teaching practice, that high scores on the grammar, vocabulary and cloze sections would correlate highly with success in courses requiring writing, and that high scores on the listening section of the test would correlate with success in courses which depended heavily on extracting information from lectures and other oral forms of presentation.

The actual results of the study will be discussed and compared with previous studies on the predictive ability of English proficiency tests. Finally, implications of the study for the future development of the test in an effort to make it a better instrument for predicting student performance will be discussed.