This is a really interesting story.  Pearson is going to shorten their English test! According to the PIE News:

The length of the PTE Academic test will be reduced from three to two hours from November 16, which Pearson says will offer candidates an improved experience but will not affect the accuracy of the English language proficiency exam.

Currently, the PTE takes three hours to complete.

They will also start offering a home version of the test.  Proctoring will be handled in-house via Pearson’s OnVUE service.

This is an interesting approach. Pearson’s decision to simply shorten its main test contrasts with ETS’s decision to create a totally new test (the “TOEFL Essentials” test).

I wonder if Pearson’s decision will encourage ETS to shorten the main TOEFL test (now three hours) or the British Council to shorten the IELTS (now 2hrs 45 minutes).  I wonder, also, if ETS might be encouraged to develop its own in-house proctoring solution.  That might improve the overall test taker experience.

We’ve learned a few things over the past 18 months.  They include:

  • Universities are okay with a really short test (the Duolingo Test is just one hour)
  • Universities are okay if tests do not use live human proctors (the Duolingo Test doesn’t have any)
  • Universities are okay if spoken and written responses are judged entirely by AI (the Duolingo and PTE tests don’t use them)

 I wonder if ETS will choose to take advantage of these trends.  The TOEFL Essentials test is obviously much shorter than their main TOEFL test, but it still uses human proctors (which add some pre-test time) and human graders (which add cost).  If I close my eyes and think really hard, I can imagine a two hour TOEFL iBT that is short, cheap and a bit more user-friendly.  I’ll write about that in a future blog post. 

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