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Title: The effect of IELTS test preparation and repeated test taking on Chinese candidates' IELTS results, general proficiency and their subsequent academic attainment
Author: Hu, Ruolin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 6268
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2018
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To achieve academic success in English speaking higher education, English proficiency is key (Trenkic & Warmington, 2018). However, IELTS - a standardised test of English proficiency frequently used as a university entry requirement - has been reported an inconsistent predictor (e.g. Feast, 2002; Dooey & Oliver, 2002; Woodrow, 2006). Here, two quasi-experiments were conducted to explored potential reasons behind this inconsistency. Using a pretest/intervention/posttest design, quasi-experiment 1 investigated whether IELTS test-preparation programmes can boost IELTS scores beyond test takers' actual levels of proficiency (N=89). In the intervention group, a significant boost in IELTS scores from pre-test to post-test was found but there was no significant improvement in general proficiency, measured through another standardised proficiency test, a vocabulary test, and a processing accuracy/speed test. In the control group, no difference in results on either IELTS or the other three measures. Quasi-experiment 2 first examined whether repeated test-taking may boost IELTS scores beyond test-takers' actual proficiency levels and then explored the predictive validity of IELTS on academic attainment among 153 Chinese students at a UK university. Results indicated that repeated test-taking inflated IELTS scores beyond the level of proficiency, but only marginally. IELTS was significantly correlated with academic grades for students from both linguistically more and less disciplines. Moreover, IELTS was found to be a good predictor for grades for the linguistically more demanding. In short, IELTS scores can be boosted beyond one's actual proficiency by attending dedicated test-preparation courses and to a lesser extent by taking the test repeatedly. Hence students admitted on the premises of a certain IELTS may in fact be of lower proficiency. This discrepancy can impact their academic achievement. This study offers insights as to why prior research on the relationship between IELTS scores and academic attainment yielded inconsistent findings and considers theoretical and practical implications.
Supervisor: Trenkic, Danijela Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available