The Pearson Test of English (PTE) launched worldwide in 2009. Since then, it has become a leading exam for study applications worldwide, and for visa applications for work and migration in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada.
Pearson’s Senior Director, Global Stakeholder Relations and Market Development for the UK, Ireland, US, and Canada, Shileen Costain, spoke to Bridge about PTE’s benefits, global adoption, and new features. An international education veteran, Costain oversees the network expansion for PTE with governments, institutions, agents, and test-takers.
In addition, Derya Uysal, PTE Sales Enablement Manager, commented on professional development for teachers, and Pearson’s professional relationship with Bridge. Uysal works with universities, migration and education agents, teachers, and aspiring international students to understand all aspects of PTE Academic and Pearson English products.
Increasing global adoption
There are several initiatives that have resulted in the global adoption of PTE and its wide reach among test takers, schools, and learners. Ultimately, what has led the way for PTE has been working on the ground and engaging with everyone from governments, institutions, professional associations, and actual test takers who need a high-stakes English assessment.
People who are applying for visas, admission to study, or registering to be a professional in a specific field really appreciate having a choice in the test they take to prove their English proficiency skills.
The hard work has paid off, as the test continues to achieve prominence. For example, it has been recognized by the Canadian government for immigration purposes. This includes Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permits, as well as for all categories of work and residency visas.
“People who are applying for visas, admission to study, or registering to be a professional in a specific field really appreciate having a choice in the test they take to prove their English proficiency skills,” said Costain.
Historically, Australia, India, and China are the three main countries where PTE enjoys comfortable growth, but it is increasingly popular in other regions as well.
“Our goal is to be accepted by ALL organizations that require an English test. Our teams across regions continue to work with schools and institutions, as well as agents, teachers, language schools and learners to progress our goal,” added Costain.
A test full of benefits
English students tend to appreciate that PTE is shorter than other similar tests due to the fact that it is computer-based, so there aren’t wait times between sections. In addition, the scoring system delivers reliable results quickly. These benefits have also contributed to the test’s global adoption.
“Test takers love that PTE can be completed in under two hours and that they can receive their scores in two days or less. We can achieve this as we’re a fully computer-based test, and test takers can book their test themselves via our online booking system,” said Costain.
PTE has set test days in testing centers around the world, and Pearson uses a combination of AI and automated scoring to provide fast, reliable and accurate results. The AI scoring means that test takers only have to focus on their performance and not on subjective elements like handwriting or how an evaluator feels on the day of the test. Overall, it’s a much simpler testing process that allows test takers to quickly move on with their future English journeys.
With Pearson’s support, Bridge developed the Teaching PTE Test Prep Micro-credential to effectively train teachers on how to best prepare their students for this English exam. This example of professional development tools is more relevant today as PTE continues to grow worldwide.
“It is highly beneficial for anyone in the world of English language learning to keep up to date with industry developments generally, and also with what’s happening in the world of high-stakes testing,” said Uysal. “Many learners often go to their English teacher for advice as they are beacons of knowledge.”
Thankfully Bridge is up to date with what’s happening in the industry and so they are a great partner to work with.
According to Uysal, recent years have seen a big shift to digital learning and the use of generative AI by teaching professionals as well as learners. Many traditional methods of learning and assessment are changing, so it is especially important for teachers to stay relevant and knowledgeable.
“Thankfully Bridge is up to date with what’s happening in the industry and so they are a great partner to work with. Because they offer high-quality courses that allow teachers to study a range of topics at their own pace, they fit in nicely with the needs of busy teachers,” she added.
The PTE website has a dedicated teachers’ page with all the information teachers need to know about PTE and includes lesson plans focusing on improving learner skills and a preparation course outline that details all the skills examined in PTE Academic that teachers can use to develop their own curriculum. On a wider scale, Pearson also has a wide range of English language learning products ranging from general to academic English coursebooks, to grammar and skills practice that can help teachers support learners in the classroom.
Different types of learners
Students preparing to take the PTE vary in their learning objectives, learning styles, and language levels. Every student’s profile is different, so teaching strategies must be specific to each student’s needs.
Teachers really need to understand the needs of their learners and their objectives to tailor their teaching to each individual or small group.
Some students preparing for PTE may be looking for a few lessons just to improve their understanding of PTE Academic, focusing on understanding the questions and how to approach them. Others may be proficient in day-to-day English but need some extra practice in academic English. Some learners have taken PTE and not achieved the scores they need and are now looking to improve their English level and are after some remediation advice.
“Teachers really need to understand the needs of their learners and their objectives to tailor their teaching to each individual or small group,” said Uysal.
Much like Bridge, Pearson is always looking to improve its products and expand its offer. In terms of new developments, they will be launching a new test, PTE Core, later this year. It is a test of everyday English that can be used by people looking to work or migrate to Canada.
Our team is currently working on improving our customer experience by integrating our test booking and preparation platforms allowing for a more seamless journey.
PTE is also undergoing changes, as Pearson wants to make this star product even more appealing.
“Our team is currently working on improving our customer experience by integrating our test booking and preparation platforms allowing for a more seamless journey. We’re also looking to include more payment options as we know various regions have payment preferences,” explained Costain.
The Pearson research team continually monitors PTE test performance and looks for opportunities for improvements. They also actively engage in research with third parties.
“We put out a call for research every year and I would encourage anyone who is interested to visit the PTE website,” she added.
Pearson has set standards in the ESL and ELT spaces for several years. With PTE, they have once again delivered an attractive product. Bridge is excited to continue working and developing new materials with Pearson to pave the way for English language professionals and students.