A repost from LinkedIn:

Remember: a standardized English test doesn’t necessarily have to be 55 minutes long and cost $59 to succeed in today’s market. A test can still be 2+ hours and frigging expensive while growing its market share… as long as the firm behind it offers a modern test-taking experience and treats customers with some amount of dignity and respect.

Consider the rapid growth of the PTE Academic Test in recent years. By my calculations, it is now the second most popular test used for university admissions and student visas (behind the IELTS, ahead of the TOEFL). On the rare occasions when testing firms ask me for advice I often suggest that they study what Pearson has done in recent years, and emulate it when appropriate.

This has come up in real-world conversation a few times in recent weeks, so I figured it would be good to mention it here (again).

(Disclaimer: people reading this post probably know that I’m a big proponent of lower testing fees, but I realize that in 2023 low fees aren’t required for success)

I saw some statistics from Northeastern University today. From 2020 to the present, 20% of students submitting Duolingo English Test scores to that university have come from underrepresented minority groups. Meanwhile, just 7% of applicants submitting TOEFL scores and 4% of applicants submitting IELTS scores have come from underrepresented groups.

I’ve written many times here about how the high costs of taking traditional English tests (the TOEFL costs as much as $450 to take) means that such tests can reduce the diversity of applicant pools at universities. These statistics speak to that obvious reality.

I understand that traditional tests will never be as cheap as the Duolingo English Test, but there are certainly things that can be done to lower their costs (and their sometimes onerous post-test fees).