How to Avoid the Unexpected Costs of Language Testing


By: Elisabeth Levi, Ph.D, Head of Research at Speak

English exams often serve as a significant barrier to jobs and education. Is it possible, instead, to imagine tests that help to let more people in? When we lower the price, a test can be a tool for increased access, rather than a barrier to success.

Traditional tests are often viewed as an “Entry ticket” to jobs and education. The test identifies those candidates who are at the right level for a job or university and those who aren’t. It is reasonable, and even necessary, to sometimes use a test for this purpose. However, a traditional test may reject people for reasons other than the lack of the skill being tested. Errors may occur when a candidate is accepted or rejected based on a single test. When the exam costs a lot of money, the chances of that happening are even higher. Instead of measuring only skills, a costly exam also measures wealth.

Universities in English speaking countries often use language tests as an admission requirement. English speaking countries use these tests as a requirement for a visa. As a result, those without the money to take these exams are automatically rejected. While some countries or universities may want to accept only wealthier foreigners, not every country is bidding for only the richest immigrants. Countries with lower populations or expanding economies need people who have skills and intellectual resources, even if they don’t have financial ones.

As English becomes more and more widely accepted as a language of education and business communication (even in countries whose first language is not English) language tests are being used to screen job and university applicants throughout the world. Institutions may not want to add a financial barrier to the acceptance process. The cost of the most quality language tests currently on the market does just that. Do we really want testing companies setting a financial bar for immigration, job acceptance, and university admissions?

Low cost, high-quality assessments benefit business. Corporations in developing countries who want to compete in a global market depend on workers who can speak English clearly. They need an effective way of recruiting them. Without affordable and accurate English tests, they must choose among not testing, only hiring people who can afford the more expensive exams, or relying on a test which may not be very useful. This dilemma not only limits employment opportunities for lower-income applicants but also affects the abilities of businesses to compete, which slows economic growth in developing nations.

Speak’s English assessment provides a low cost, high-quality solution for English testing that a company or university can easily administer. It gives universities and businesses the opportunity to identify candidates who have the necessary English skills to succeed, without creating an additional financial barrier.  Click here to learn how Speak can help you to enlarge your applicant pool.

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