Pearson just published its annual report. The PTE (Pearson Test of English) was taken 827,000 times in 2022. That’s up from 436,000 times in 2021. I nearly fell out of my chair.

Here are the historic volumes, culled from past reports:

  • 2022: 827,000
  • 2021: 436,000
  • 2020: 350,000
  • 2019: 547,000
  • 2018: 467,000
  • 2017: 359,000

(the last four are estimates based on percentage changes quoted in the annual reports)

It’s worth repeating once again that if a test-maker provides a pleasant experience for test-takers their product will take hold. Even if the test is two hours long, and even if it has a high price tag.  Not every test has to be the Duolingo English Test… 

Think about it!

I learned that Pearson’s new “PTE Essential” test will be only available at test centers. There will be no at-home version.

Last year Duolingo pushed hard for its test to be accepted for immigration purposes… but I suspect they don’t want to launch a test center version of the DET. Similarly, ETS head Amit Sevak also suggested that he wants ETS to get into language testing for immigration, but perhaps ETS is reluctant to launch a test-center version of the TOEFL Essentials Test.

In any case, I think it will be a very long time before immigration authorities will accept results from tests taken at home. I’m glad Pearson recognizes the reality of that.

I hope to learn more about the new Pearson test. It is worth mentioning that Duolingo’s test has been a gamechanger in terms of language testing for university admissions. It costs fifty bucks and takes an hour to complete (including 15 minutes of non-testing stuff). Scores are reported in two days. There are no fees for sending scores. Best of all, it’s good enough for most prospective test-takers. The percentage of test-takers who still have a good reason to take a 3 hour test that costs $250 is declining every day.

I don’t think that Pearson’s new test will be as cheap and short as the Duolingo Test. But if they can produce a sub two-hour test that costs less than $150 and provides results in two days they could totally change how language testing for immigration is done.

So far only the Canadian government has announced that it will accept the PTE Essential Test… but I’m sure Pearson is working on greater acceptance.