Cheaper alternative: New standardised test for English-language proficiency

Published: February 8, 2013
British Council launches Aptis. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

British Council launches Aptis. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The British Council has launched Aptis, a global English assessment test to assess a candidate’s ability in all four language skills– speaking, listening, reading and writing. The content of Aptis can be adapted to suit a specific domain, such as for teaching or travel and tourism, as well as customised to suit specific cultural contexts and variants of English.

The Higher Education Commission is the first organisation in Pakistan to use Aptis. Aptis will not, however, replace the International English Languages Testing System (IELTS). Instead it “complements” the IELTS test, according to the press release. IELTS is accepted by most educational institutions in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other countries. Canada, Australia and New Zealand also require IELTS as part of their immigration requirements.

The British Council, which developed and owns Aptis, also jointly owns the IELTS test with the Cambridge ESOL and IDP: IELTS Australia. The price range of Aptis in Pakistan has not been made public yet, but a British Council official, requesting anonymity, said the price will be cheaper than the Rs17,000 IELTS test. Aptis can be used by educational institutions as an admissions criterion. Its major role, however, seems to be as an organisation-based solution.

“There is a huge unmet demand for English language teaching and assessment worldwide,” said Mark Robson, Director of English at the British Council, according to a press release. “We wanted to test the English language skills of our existing employees and found Aptis very practical and efficient,” Awais Ahmad, HEC’s Director General Human Resources said. “Furthermore, Aptis has helped us identify employees and the relevant English language skill.”

The marking system of Aptis is task-based rather than test-based. This means in one task several people in different locations around the world mark different items within the test, all through the online platform of Aptis.

Aptis can also be customised to test one or more of the four language skills, the press release stated. So an organisation willing to test the speaking ability of its employees can opt for just the speaking component of the test. The test can be delivered by computer or pen and paper, and it offers results in as little as 24 hours.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.

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