The International English Language Testing System (IELTS): A Critical Review

Peter Peltekov

Abstract


Considering the increasing popularity of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the present article provides a succinct description and critique of the test. As with any high-stakes assessment, educational institutions need to carefully examine all aspects of a given assessment tool before applying it in practice. Green’s (2014) framework for the evaluation of second language assessment tools was applied to the analysis of the IELTS test. The present review demonstrated that there are many ways in which the IELTS test can be improved (e.g., increasing the authenticity of the listening modules and reducing the role of construct irrelevant skills). While it is far from flawless and not the only option, IELTS continues to be one of the most popular international tests of English language proficiency. Clearly, the test is an important gate-keeping measure and an incentive for millions of non-native speakers to improve their English language skills. As we know, the beneficial consequences of a given assessment system are on the top of the hierarchy of effective assessment characteristics (Green, 2014), and IELTS seems to achieve its purpose. However, it is hoped that the present critical review is a valuable contribution to the ongoing validation and improvement of the test. At the very least, it is hoped that it would help assessment stakeholders to better understand the structure of the test and to reflect on its usefulness in a more informed and objective way.

Keywords


IELTS, language testing, assessment characteristics, test reliability, test validity.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Alavi, S. M., & Masjedlou, A. P. (2017). Construct under-representation and construct irrelevant variances on IELTS academic writing task 1: Is there any threat to validity? Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 7(11), 1097-1107. http://dx.doi.org/10.17507/tpls.0711.19

Aryadoust, V. (2012). Differential item functioning in while-listening performance tests: The case of the international English language testing system (IELTS) listening module. International Journal of Listening, 26(1), 40-60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10904018.2012.639649

Bachman, L. F. and Palmer, A. S. (1996). Language Testing in Practice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Cooper, T. (2013). Can IELTS writing scores predict university performance? Comparing the use of lexical bundles in IELTS writing tests and first-year academic writing. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 42, 63-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.5842/42-0-155

Council of Europe. Council for Cultural Co-operation. Education Committee. Modern Languages Division (Strasbourg). (2001). Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge, U.K: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Derwing, T.M. & Munro, M.J., (1997). Accent, intelligibility, and comprehensibility: Evidence from four L1s. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263197001010

Douglas, D. (2000). Assessing languages for specific purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ETS (2010). Linking TOEFL iBT scores to IELTS scores – A research report. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved June 9, 2020 from: https://www.ets.org/s/toefl/pdf/linking_toefl_ibt_scores_to_ielts_scores.pdf.

Green, A. (2005). EAP study recommendations and score gains on the IELTS academic writing test. Assessing Writing, 10(1), 44-60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2005.02.002

Green, A. (2007a). Washback to learning outcomes: A comparative study of IELTS preparation and university pre-sessional language courses. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 14(1), 75-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09695940701272880

Green, A. (2007b). IELTS Washback in Context: Preparation for Academic Writing in Higher Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Green, A. (2014). Exploring language assessment and testing: Language in action. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Hemmati, F., & Ghaderi, E. (2014). The effect of four formats of multiple-choice questions on the listening comprehension of EFL learners. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 637-644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.462

IELTS. (2020). IELTS Home of the English Language Test. [online] Available at: https://www.ielts.org/ [Accessed 29 November 2020].

Moore, T., & Morton, J. (2005). Dimensions of difference: A comparison of university writing and IELTS writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 4(1), 43-66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2004.02.001

Pawlikowska-Smith, G., Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, & Canadian Electronic Library (Firm). (2013). Theoretical framework for the Canadian language benchmarks and niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens. S.l.: Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks.

Uysal, H. H. (2010). A critical review of the IELTS writing test. ELT Journal, 64(3), 314-320. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccp026

University of Calgary. (2020). A.11 English Language Proficiency. [online] Available at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/pubs/calendar/current/a-11.html [Accessed 29 November 2020].

Vandergrift, L. (2006). Second language listening: Listening ability or language proficiency? The Modern Language Journal, 90(1), 6-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2006.00381.x

Zahedi, K., & Shamsaee, S. (2012). Viability of construct validity of the speaking modules of international language examinations (IELTS vs. TOEFL iBT): Evidence from Iranian test-takers. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 24(3), 263-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11092-011-9137-z

Zahedkazemi, E. (2015). Construct validation of TOEFL-iBT (as a conventional test) and IELTS among Iranian EFL test-takers' performance on speaking modules. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 5(7), 1513-1519. http://dx.doi.org/10.17507/tpls.0507.27




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21462/jeltl.v6i2.581

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.






JELTL (Journal of English Language Teaching and Linguistics); Web: www.jeltl.org; Email:[email protected]


Creative Commons License
JELTL by http://www.jeltl.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Indexed and Abstracted BY: