It was in the mid-nineties that Specky, my wife, went to the University of York to work for a DPhil in mathematics as a Commonwealth scholar. That was the period for me too to exult. No, I was neither a student aspiring to study abroad, nor planning to immigrate. And yet I still remember all the exams that Specky had to clear, the forms that needed to be filled, the clearances to be taken, the NOCs to be obtained, and all the answers to all the doubts that appeared in a rather random order. And remember, we had no internet ready to serve our needs at home. Our conversations at home meandered through multiple issues without stopping for enough time to ponder over an answer.
‘How many bags are can we take with us?’
‘No idea. But I guess, the airline regulations will have some mention.’
‘Yes, I’m sure. But what are you planning to fill in those bags?’
‘Clothes. Ah! Does it snow in York? Delhi winters are too mild.’
‘Why think of these things? You still have to appear in that English proficiency test, right?’
‘Yes, and I keep forgetting. Why must I choose between the IELTS and TOEFL?
‘Because you need to appear for just one.’
As I recollect this strand of one of our meandering conversation then, I realise suddenly that a lot had changed. We have not just internet to fall back upon for every little query, but have progressed further and have Google Home and Alexa to talk to. Where the internet told me that IELTS and TOEFL were not the only alternatives now, it was Alexa who added that PTE or Pearson Test of English began in 2009 and was now a valid third alternative.
‘Aha!’ I said to Specky, ‘had you wanted to go abroad to study now in 2018, you’d have a third choice for proving your proficiency in English.’
Specky nodded and answered, ‘I know this already. Don’t you forget that I deal with students every day.’ She told me then that for a lot of students it was #DefinitelyPTE because of what they called the 24-5-1-0 code. This simply was an indicator that the test appointment could be had in 24 hours, results are in hand in 5 business days, only 1 sitting for this test is needed, and chances of human bias is 0.
‘I can understand the first three, but what is this mention of human bias?’ I asked. And Specky smiled as she told me that in PTE, there was no live conversation and candidates had to speak to a microphone for getting recorded in a system which meant that it was a computer program evaluating and rating the speaking ability and not another human.
‘Jolly interesting,’ I said, ‘AI seems to be moving in from all directions.’ Not that this is a bad development at all. But while we are talking about PTE, let also add that just as IELTS is endorsed by the British Council and TOEFL by ETS, this comparatively new entrant PTE Academic (and PTE General) had GMAT endorsing it. I dived in to get some more information and found that PTE had around 200 test centres in 50 countries and that there were 15 centres in India. This test has been recognized by more than 1800 programs in 719 institutions including INSEAD and Harvard. As things satnd today, PTE is accepted by all universities in Australia, NZ, and Ireland, and by a growing number across the USA, Canada, UK, Singapore, and Europe. This list is getting longer every year.
It isn’t just the students who need to appear for an English proficiency test before they are accepted by a university, college, or an institution abroad, even those who are seeking immigration need to appear for this test. And if this country happens to be Australia or New Zealand, then for them it is the PTE General for sure. So it is #DefinitelyPTE even for a non-student wanting to migrate.
There are other advantages of going for PTE and this includes the facility of opting for a re-taking this test after just 5 days of previous appointment. The PTE is based on automatic scoring and grades a test taker in the score 10-90… and there are umpteen other nuances that may help a test-taker define his choice of which of the three alternatives to choose from. A few facts documented can be read here:
What appears good is the fact that English Language Test now has more options than there were earlier. With the number of options increasing, the testing systems too have a higher probability of getting injected with creative innovations and come loaded with the latest in technology. All this does benefit a student.
22 April 2018