The Pearson Test of English Academic is all set to attract more takers. Hear it from Carl Rhymer.
For students wanting to pursue higher studies in English-speaking nations, the TOEFL (for U.S. universities) and IELTS (for U.K., Australian universities) have for long been the two options as language proficiency tests. About three years ago, Pearson group, one of the world’s leading Education company, came out with their own English language test called the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic in 2009.
In over three years, PTE Academic has managed to find wide acceptance amongst most universities in the U.K. and Australia. Global sales director of Pearson Language Tests Carl Rhymer was in Chennai recently. He spoke exclusively to The Hindu Education Plus about PTE, Indian students’ performance in the global examination scenario and more.
You have been associated with global exams for nearly two decades. How have Indian students fared over the years?
Indian students are doing a very good job. Over time their language ability and performance in exams have been improving year on year. They realise their importance of maximising study opportunities and invest their time and efforts in preparing themselves for examinations. Globally, Indian students perform pretty well against other nationalities.
What are the salient features of PTE and what are the advantages for students?
One main thing is convenience. It’s easy to register and students can apply very close to exam day and can get their results in five working days. The test is done in three hours in one sitting and there is no need to come back another day.
Also, this test is the most relevant to the studies. All materials are real lectures or journals and not recorded in studios. It better prepares and mirrors what they do in classroom. The other area is we are the fairest as we use automated scoring for tests.
Please explain the automated testing process.
Basically we feed the system a wide variety of scripts marked by people across the world and the system uses Artificial Intelligence and complex computer programming techniques to generate scores based on that.
Why is this method adopted by PTE Academic?
The reason we go for this method is that human evaluation is not reliable. An examiner’s evaluation might vary through the day from morning to one immediately after lunch. In an automated system it’s not one examiner but hundreds of them who are the base. This gives more objectivity and fairness to the testing process.
Which are the areas Indian students are good at and the ones they need to concentrate more?
Indian students generally do well in the speaking and listening sections of the tests but the reading and writing skills are often underestimated and that’s an area they have to work hard on.
Some tips to crack the test…
The first and most important thing is always make an answer. In speaking, when it comes to long sentences, repeat what you remember even if you forget a few words. There is no negative marking, so it’s always important to make an answer.
One of the most important criteria for students to choose a test is acceptability. Where does PTE stand on this parameter?
In the U.K. and Australia, we are recognised by virtually every university. In the U.S. market we will be the first to accept that we need to work on it but we are recognised by Harvard, Yale and Stanford. But definitely the U.S. market is a priority for us and we have a team working on it.
Where and how many training centres do you have in the country? How many test centres are there in India?
We at Pearson don’t directly have training centres in India. We train organisations and trainers. We do teacher-training programmes and provide them with material and certify the trainers. We have 10 test centres in all major cities in India.