Here’s the second part of my musings (originally posted on LinkedIn) on the new Password Plus Test.  Check out part one here.

  1. The reading section is more relaxed than in many other tests. I tried my very best to pick the correct answers, but used only half of the given time (70 minutes).  Compare this to the TOEFL, where time management is the name of the game and tutors generally advise students to skip the articles and jump right to the questions. 
  2. The pre-test check-in took quite some time.  Maybe about 20-30 minutes.  The proctor did not have remote control of my system, like they do for many other tests.  Instead, I shared my screen and was directed to open up the task manager and shut down processes and services myself.  I also had to flip through all of my Chrome profiles to disable extensions.
  3. Speaking of proctors, I had the same proctor all the way through and they were really quick to respond to me at all times. I was very pleased with the proctoring provided by Examity.
  4. Test takers can use paper and a pen to take notes!  That’s wonderful!  But they are limited to just one sheet of paper. That’s probably not enough.
  5. There was one instance when the question displayed on the screen did not exactly match the question that was delivered through audio.
  6. I really like the way that time is allocated in the speaking section.  As I mentioned before, there are five “sections” (each containing multiple questions) and test takers can divvy up the given time (20 minutes) as they wish.  This makes the speaking section somewhat less nerve-wracking than other tests.  ETS folks sometimes ask me why young people shy away from the TOEFL.  I normally tell them that it is because the TOEFL speaking section gives them nightmares.

I took the new Password Skills Plus Test from Password English Language Testing!  This is a new at-home test based upon an existing product that has been offered to institutions for some time.  The owners of the test reached out to me and offered a free voucher, which I couldn’t turn down.  Today I’ll share my initial thoughts, which I previously posted on LinkedIn.  Tomorrow I’ll share a second post, with more specific details (click here to read part two).

By the way, if anyone reading this is preparing for the test and wants a little help, please reach out to me!

Here goes:

I must note that there is A LOT of listening on this test. Test takers are given an hour to complete the section, and will likely use most of it. If you’re looking for a test of one’s ability to comprehend academic lectures, this one’s for you.

The speaking questions lean towards casual conversation, though I did get a challenging “describe this chart” question at the very end.

I really appreciate that the speaking section isn’t as frantic as in the TOEFL.  Test takers are given twenty minutes to complete the section, and may divvy up the time as they wish. They can, for instance, spend just a few seconds preparing for question one, thirty seconds preparing for question two and a full minute preparing for question three. You get what I mean. I think this reduces test taker anxiety without necessarily compromising the validity of the test.

I like the test taker handbook very much. Across its sixteen pages (with plenty of white space) test takers get a clear idea of what to expect on the test and how to avoid violating any rules. That compares favorably to the 46 pages of small print in the bulletin that TOEFL test takers are expected to read.

I’ve already mentioned here that I like the pricing of this test.  It costs 110 GBP (140 USD) in every country in the world. That’s less than most tests.  Rescheduling is free up to 24 hours before the test (and just $5 after that time).

However. There are a few things I didn’t like, and they are worth mentioning.

  1. Logging in was surprisingly challenging. I didn’t get a “click here on test day” link by email. And the Password Plus website doesn’t have a login button. Proctoring is done through Examity, and their website doesn’t have a clear login button either (maybe because they’ve merged with Meazure Learning). I had to google “how to log in to Examity.” I got a little panicky as my test time drew closer. That’s not great TTX.
  2. The Examity software is clunky and blocked either the timer or the question number at all times. Those UI elements should be moved.
  3. I flagged an issue regarding waveforms (more specifically: every other waveform) not moving during the speaking section. I’m pretty sure that was a test software issue and not an issue with my system. My response to one of the questions contains me saying “uh… proctor!!”

Overall, the test seems solid, but the implementation could use some work.

I’m happy to see new tests sprouting up nearly every month. Test takers and score users alike will benefit.