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Interpretation of PTE Academic Scores

15 August 2014 - 31 October 2015

PI/s in Exeter: Associate Professor Philip Durrant

Funding awarded: £ 5,438

Sponsor(s): Pearson

About the research

Using the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE-A) to predict achievement and measure proficiency gains in an intensive EAP foundation programme

Many institutions provide intensive programmes in English for Academic Purposes for applicants whose English language proficiency is deemed not to be sufficient for direct entry to English-medium higher education. It is essential that these institutions (and the higher education institutions which they serve) are able to make informed judgements about the extent to which particular applicants are likely to benefit from particular programmes and the length and type of programme they are likely to need to attend before commencing their degrees. 

In most cases, such judgements will be made on the basis of widely-available academically-oriented proficiency tests, such as PTE-A. It is therefore important to determine: 1) whether and how such tests are able to predict applicants’ degree of achievement on an intensive EAP course; 2) the extent to which applicants can be expected to reach the levels of proficiency higher educational institutions require for entry to degree programmes by engaging in a particular EAP course; and 3) how and why the answers to 1) and 2) vary across applicants. This project aims to answer these three questions.

It will trace EAP students' score gains on PTE-A over the period of a 10-week programme, determine how well pre-course PTE-A scores predict their performance on the EAP course (as measured by in-house assessments), and how learner and contextual factors influence these things.

It is intended that this project will inform institutional decision-making about admissions and pre-degree EAP provision based on the PTE-A test.


Pearson Education Ltd.