SONG Yin,24,a graduate student in computer science at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei,might be one of the first to sit the Pearson Test of English (PTE) in Bejing.It's graded entirely by machine,with everything examined automatically by computer.
Anyone taking the test has to get a palm scan and digital signature for security measures before taking their seat and putting on a set of headphones."I'm really interested in registering for a new test like that," Song said."It's a novel way to test my ability and could give me a feel of competitiveness if I want to apply for overseas study."
PTE Academic is a new computer-based academic English language test from Pearson Language Tests (PLT),a part of the London-based education company. It tests the preparedness of non-native English speakers for university-level studies in English.The materials are from real instructional situations such as a lecture or writing assignment.
PTE's coming to China in November and might mean a change in the English language assessment world.For anyone wanting to go abroad to study,it presents an alternative to the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Still,each of the tests has its own advantages and caters to a different group of students.Here,21st Century offers you a comparison to help you find out which might be your cup of tea.
Pearson Test of English Academic
Range of acceptance:It's been recognized by around 500 institutions and 800 programs, including the London Business School and Yale University,as well as leading European business schools.
Audio sample:An important element that Pearson has added is a brief audio sample,or voice print.The test-taker has to record a 30-second self-introduction clip before starting the test.The clip is delivered along with test scores to the prospective school.This gives a better chance to those who prize their practical oral skills.
Difficulties:The self-introduction part is new to Chinese,so they need to be well-prepared.
Range of acceptance:More than 6,000 organizations in Australia,Canada,Ireland,New Zealand,the UK,the US,and other countries.
Registration fee:1,450 yuan
可以和主考官互动。口语测试环节包括考生与专业考官一对一的对话。考官引导考生进行各个环节的测试。一些学生认为，与真人对话比与机器对话感觉更自然。 Human interaction with the examiner. The speaking section involves a person-to-person talk with a trained examiner. The examiner leads the test-taker through various parts. Some students feel more natural speaking with a real person than with a machine.
Difficulties: Chinese students tend to get low scores on the writing section. Test-takers need to develop logical skills, a large vocabulary, and an understanding of sentence structures.
Range of acceptance: More than 7,000 organizations worldwide use TOEFL results
Registration fee:1,415 yuan
Measures the ability to integrate four English skills in an academic setting. "TOEFL has kept reforming itself over time with new requests from students and universities," said Zhang Hongwei, head of Beijing's North American Testing Program, New Oriental School. "The new test puts a lot of emphasis on the use of the four basic skills, so students have to be very solid in them."
Difficulties: According to the producer's statistics, Chinese do their worst on the oral section. Zhang's advice is to download some tests from the website, and try to practice every day.