Fast Facts: Pearson’s New Global Scale of English

s1x5uzj4_400x400Pearson English recently announced this year its release of its new “Global Scale of English” in an effort to establish what it calls a “universal benchmark for businesses, governments and academic institutions.” Such a development should be seen as more than an academic exercise, however – after all, when one of the biggest names in English-language assessments makes a change like this and it is sure to impact the lives of many. It is this importance that has compelled us to go investigate the story behind the headlines. Here, then, are the “need to knows” regarding Pearson’s new Global Scale of English:

What is it?
Like most English proficiency metrics, the new “Global Scale of English” measures the core components of language learning – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. What makes the GSE different is that it allows learners to measure their English proficiency on a scale of 10 to 90. Moreover, because this scale will be consistent across all of Pearson English’s exams, including the PTE Academic and the PTE General.

How is it different?
The result of 25 cumulative years of research, the new, numerical scale is tied (much like the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages about which Pearson English consulted) to concrete skills it also offers important advantage for educators and employers who are interested in what functional abilities different candidates possess.

Why is this important?
Pearson English believes the new scale will be more accurate than other proficiency metrics. While earlier measurement devices have tended to divide test-takers into more nebulous bands of “beginner”, “intermediate” or “advanced, the GSE will allow test-takers to compare their results over time using a consistent, nuanced scale. Indeed, according to Pearson, the results of the exam are much more detailed than anything else on the market and should enable students, educators, and employers to measure both progress and proficiency in a much more meaningful way. According to the company, given the important of English in both the classroom and the boardroom such a scale is “long overdue.”

When will it be released?
Those interested in using the new results will still have to wait a while, however. While all of the company’s new products will begin using the GSE immediately, the company plans to gradually integrate the new assessment into its existing offerings over the next 18 to 24 months. Don’t worry, though: during this transition the results will still be tied to the existing scales. In this way Pearson English hopes to make the switch as easy as possible to handle.

Want to learn more about English language exams? See which language exam is right for you.

Pearson and Busuu partnership to change the face of English testing

online education179151975The Announcement

Two of the largest players in English education have  joined forces in a partnership that destined to change the face of English proficiency exams as we know them. Once the preserve of institutions and exam centers, one of the industry’s biggest players is turning to social media to help deliver the first in a new breed of English language assessments. Pearson English, a division of Pearson – itself well-known as the world’s largest learning company – has signed an exclusive cooperative agreement with Busuu, the world’s largest social network for language learning. Together the two companies hope to leverage their unique strengths – Busuu’s in educational social media and Peason’s in assessments – in order to help English learners more accurately measure their language learning.

The Terms

As a result of the Pearson and Busuu partnership, Busuu will be the first online social media company to have access to Pearson English’s new online proficiency assessment, gSET. In fact, more than that, Busuu will be the first company of any kind to employ the new test. The gSET is uniquely suited to a user-administered approach because it was developed by Pearson English to provide a comprehensive “Global Scale of English” score that measures the core components of language learning – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The exam is designed to measure performance on an on-going basis using a consistent, nuanced scale. According to Pearson, the results of the exam are much more detailed than anything else on the market and should enable students to measure their progress over time in a much more meaningful way.

Getting Started

The test, which will be available exclusive on Busuu for a four month period beginning in the summer of 2014, will be fully integrated into all Busuu courses and made available to all of Busuu’s 40 million users (paying subscribers will have free Access while free users will need top ay a nominal fee).

>> Want to learn more about English language exams? Check out more on our resources section.

Comparing TOEFL and TOEIC scores

concentration154216896The TEOFL and the TOEIC are practically synonymous with English as a Second Language proficiency and it is no wonder. Despite their common applications and origins – both are developed, administered, and offered by the Princeton, New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service at hundred testing centers around the world every year – they are nevertheless hardly synonymous with each other. Although there are other differences, one of the most galling is the fact that the TOEFL (or as it is more formally known, the Test Of English as a Foreign Language) and the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) use fundamentally different grading scales to evaluate their students. Thus the manner in which ESL tests can be compared can seem daunting. Looks can be deceiving, however, and a closer examination of the standards that underpin the two exams makes English exam comparison relatively easy.

Although aligning to two exams to one another would be problematic, the fact that both exams are tied to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) and its six benchmark levels of language proficiency means that the two exams can be compared to one another through this common medium. The following table does exactly that by comparing TOEFL and TOEIC scores:

toefl and toeic

Better still, and with the knowledge that the two exams are each comprised of four distinct parts designed to measure proficiency in Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing, individual section scores can themselves be aligned to the CEF benchmark levels. Thus even these subsections of the two ESL tests can be compared.


English Exam Overviews: The ECPE

examen-michigan-ecpeWhile similar in name the ECCE exam (and likewise offered by Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment), as the following overview reveals the ECPE is a distinct exam designed to meet the needs at a unique subset of English language students.

What is the ECPE and what makes it unique?
Like its brother exam the ECCE, the ECPE was original developed by the University of Michigan and, accordingly, tests students on their mastery of American-style English and its conventions. This naturally makes it ideal for English as a Second Language students with an interest (or experience) in using English the United States for professional or academic purposes. The “P” in ECPE stands for Proficiency and this, indeed, has significant implications for would-be test-takers. Proficiency is in this case means that the exam is calibrated at the C2 – advanced – level and this makes it an ideal choice for university- or professional-minded test takers.

How is the ECPE scored?
Scoring on the ECPE shares make of the characteristics common to the Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment group of exams. That means that both the listening grammar, cloze, vocabulary, and reading (GCVR) sections of the test are scored electronically and reported on a scale that ranges from 0 to 1000 while the speaking and writing sections are assessed separately by human grades according to a pre-established rubric on a scale of A to E. While passing grades must be achieved in all areas to receive a certificate of proficiency, highest marks in all sections entitle a student to receive a “Certificate of Proficiency with Honors.”

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
Though offered around the world, registering for the exam nevertheless requires advanced planning as the ECPE exam is administered at Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment test centers only two times each year. To find out more, check their list of approved testing centers in your area and contact the most convenient testing center directly. Of course, if you have any other questions about the make-up and layout of the exam check our full overview!

English Exam Overviews: The MET

imagesAlthough several of Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment’s English proficiency exams are targeted at students who are at the C1 or C2 (that is, advanced) level, the MET offers intermediate-level students a great alternative. More than that, it also presents them with an opportunity to take advantage of what makes this series of English exams unique.

What is the MET and what makes it unique?
As noted above, the MET, or Michigan English Test, is designed to meet the needs of intermediate level English as a second language students. As a result, it is calibrated to assess students ranging all the way from the A2 (basic) to C1(proficient) level. As this is by far the widest range among the Michigan array of exams – and given the fact that the exam also emphasizes the standards of American English – it makes the MET perfect for a variety of contexts. As a result, student interested in assessing the English proficiency for academic, professional, and social reasons can all benefit from the MET.

How is the MET scored?
The MET is actually two tests in one. The first, the “listening, reading, and grammar test” is a pen-and-paper test evaluated by way of 135 questions over two sections. The second, the MET Speaking Test, is comprised of structured, one-on-one interaction between an examiner and test-taker that is based around five specific tasks. Though only about ten minutes long, these tasks allow graders to evaluate a candidate’s fluency, accuracy, and clarity according to a predetermined set of standards.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The MET is offered on specific dates at authorized test centers around the world. For a complete list of upcoming exams and their locations, visit the official MET registration page. For more details about the MET itself, however, be sure to check our comprehensive exam overview.

English Exam Overviews: The TOEFL Exam

online exam 78742100As the most popular English language assessment test in the world, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in English language exam market. Since more than 8,500 colleges and universities – not to mention quite a few immigration departments – accept the results of the TOEFL it is the natural place to start our overview of English proficiency exams.

What is the TOEFL and what makes it unique?
The TOEFL is designed to measure the ability of non-native English speakers to read, write, speak, and listen to English in both academic and non-academic situations. Its most recent iteration, the TOEFL iBT, is unique for several reasons. Not only is it, as its name suggests, an internet-based test, but also, unlike the paper-based version of the exam (which is still offered at select testing sites), many of the sections in TOEFL iBT contain integrated tasks. That means that the test contains sections which requite the test taker to combine several disparate language skills in order to complete a single task. One of the exam’s two essay sections, for example, asks candidates to respond in essay form to related reading and listening passages.

How is the TOEFL scored?
Each section of the TOEFL is scored separately on a scale of 0-30. While each section score is itself reported on a given score report, each score report also includes a composite score that, as the sum of each of the four sections, ranges from 0 to 120. What constitutes a “good” score varies from school to school and department to department. While many organizations are looking for a minimum composite score, some require section minimums, and still others utilize a combination of the two.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The TOEFL exam is administered at testing centers around the world on upwards of 30 dates a year. For more information about a place and time that would be convenient for you, visit the TOEFL registration page.

>> Read more about the TOEFL exam


As you narrow down the international schools you plan on applying to, you will notice that most schools that teach their coursework in English have minimum language requirements for admissions. The most commonly used English language exam around the world, particularly in Europe and Australia/New Zealand, is the IELTS test.

You should take this exam at least a month before your application is due to allow sufficient time to have your scores sent to your schools. You can retrieve your IELTS results online two weeks after taking the exam. Be sure to do this early since your scores will no longer be available online after 28 days. If you miss this window, not to worry! You will receive the results of your IELTS test in the mail, which are typically mailed out 13 days after your IELTS test date.

While each school requires different minimum IELTS scores, the general requirement is that you should have at least a 6 or 7 out of 9 to show that you have adequate English proficiency to be well prepared for your academic courses. To make sure that you are properly prepared, the IETLS tests your ability to read, write, speak, and understand – all important skills in order to perform well in your academically strenuous class.

Check out the who, what, where, when and why’s of the IELTS for additional information!