Whether you consider testing a necessary evil or create online quizzes in your downtime, if you work with English language learners, chances are you also make regular use of a placement test. Between choosing course books, planning syllabi, and the endless (endless) grading, updating your placement test might not be your top priority. But…
It’s time to think about a new test when:
1. Your current test… was created on a typewriter
We understand IEPs and universities have tight budgets, but relying on the same placement test for decades is just bad practice. It’s far too easy for your test security to be compromised when recycling the same test year after year. And students talk to each other; what they might perceive as “helping” a friend can lead to inaccurate results.
To keep your placement test questions under wraps, it’s a good idea to update it regularly.
2. You’ve recently rewritten your curriculum
English placement tests are most helpful if they are aligned with the content of the course it places students into. Make sure that if you are restructuring the curriculum, your English placement test is still related to the successive instruction.
3. You’re enrolling students for the first time
First of all, congratulations on starting the exciting, fulfilling, important job of teaching English! Whether you are opening a brand new private language school or your institution has just made the decision to admit ESL students, you’ll need an English placement test. You’ll have to collect loads of information about your incoming students, but knowing their current proficiency level is one of the most important details.
4. You’re inundated with complaints
Sure, you’ll have the occasional beginner student insisting he’s fluent, or a humble one who underestimates her skills, but for the most part, students have a good understanding of their current capabilities in English. If they’re regularly challenging the results given by your current English placement test, you maybe should consider a new test.
It may not be students doing the complaining!
If English instructors frequently have to move students after the semester has started—because the course is either too easy or too difficult for them—your English placement test just isn’t working for you.
Okay, so what should you do?
Just because an English placement test has worked for you in the past doesn’t mean it will into perpetuity. Regularly monitor your placement practices. Your students, teachers, and enrollment office will surely thank you for it.
Think you need a new English placement test but are unsure where to start? Check out our guide Choosing and Using an English Placement Test: Where to Begin?