Upcoming Changes to ECCE

Since its initial development some 20 years ago, the Examination for the Certificate of Competency in English (or ECCE exam) has undergone constant study and refinement. Its last major revision took place in 2006 and affected the Speaking and Writing sections of the exam. Nevertheless, since then its developers at the University of Michigan English Language Institute have continued to update the parameters of the exam in order to create the most accurate and useful English proficiency exam possible. As a result of their work, beginning in 2013 the ECCE exam will include new changes to both the Listening and Reading sections.

While the length of the Listening section will not change (it will remain 30 minutes with a total of 50 questions), the second part of the listening test will have a new task in which test takers will listen to and answer questions about four short narratives (or “talks”). There will continue to be a total of 20 questions for this new aspect of the listening section and it will replace the extended listening task currently used on the exam. The ECCE feels that the older listening task, which simulates a radio interview related to a single event, can be improved by increasing the range of topics discussed.

While the Reading section of the exam is subdivided into three sections designed to assess grammar, vocabulary, and reading, there will be no changes to either the grammar or vocabulary sections in the new version. Instead, the 2013 version will include two new types of reading tasks: 2 short reading passages with 5 questions each and 4 short reading texts related to each other by topic with 10 questions each. As a result of these changes, the total number of questions on the Reading section will remain the same but the total amount of time allotted will be increased from 80 to 90 minutes.

Given the scope of these differences, a complete sample of the newly revised Listening and Reading sections will be made available online for test takers in early 2012.

ECCE Exam Updates

The Examination for the Certificate of Competency in English (or ECCE exam) was first developed in 1992 and first administered on a trial basis to 375 students in Athens, Greece, in May 1993. Since it was first formally offered in Greece in 1994 and expanded into other regions of the world the following year, its administrators at the University of Michigan have nevertheless continued to use their expertise to update and revise the exam. As a result of their work, the exam has some seen some significant structural changes in recent years.

In 2006, for example, The University of Michigan unveiled a new rubric used in grading the Speaking and Writing sections of the ECCE exam. Where the assessment rubrics for these sections were subdivided into four benchmark levels the administrators now used five. That means that instead of dividing results into one of four levels of proficiency, examiners now have five. These new scales, in being further distinguished and clarified from one another, were designated to more precisely and accurately reflect the features of communication that candidates are expected to use.

Although the rubrics used to measure the tasks changed, the speaking and writing tasks remained unchanged and the aggregate (or combined average) scoring method employed by the ECCE remained the same. Thus, while students who do not pass one section of can still pass if their scores on the remaining sections are of a sufficiently high level, students who fail two or more sections cannot pass the exam. In so doing, the ECCE exam hopes to maintain its reputation for excellent in English proficiency assessments.