PTE学术英语考试(PTE Academic)是由全球著名的教育出版、传媒集团，培生(Pearson) 旗下培生语言考试中心 (Pearson Language Testing)在全球推出的一种新型的，基于计算机的国际学术英语考试。考试对象是打算出国留学的非英语为母语的考生。作为一个新型的留学语言考试，PTE学术英语考试自从登陆中国以来受到中国学生广泛好评。8月24日，新浪教育特别邀请到英国培生集团语言考试中心考试研发中心总监郑英博士和考试开发总监David Booth做客新浪，为广大中国考生揭秘PTE学术英语考试。以下是本次访谈实录。
SINA Host：Hello everyone! Welcome to SINA Interview, My name is Ma Xin. PTE Academic, a new English test for people applying to study overseas, was launched at the end of 2009. This test is becoming more and more popular among Chinese students。
PTE Academic has many advantages. For example, test takers can register and book a test 48 hours in advance, and can get their test results within 5 business days. Most of the test items are integrative tasks, testing real-life English abilities. The applicants can send their PTE Academic score reports to an unlimited number of institutions for free. Some PTE Academic test takers commented that PTE Academic is a very interesting test, not only testing survival English but also real academic English。
It’s our pleasure to invite two Directors from the Language Testing division of Pearson. The lady next to me is Dr. Ying Zheng。
郑 英：大家好，我叫郑英，我现在培生集团语言考试中心任研发总监，同时也担任培生集团语言考试中心Psychometrician一职，这位是我同事David Booth。
Zheng Ying: Hello, everyone. My name is Zheng Ying. I am the Psychometrician and Research Director for the Language Testing Division of Pearson. This is my colleague, David Booth
David Booth：Hello (in Chinese)。
SINA Host：David is the Director of Test Development in Pearson Language Testing. Some of our Chinese test takers may know something about PTE Academic already, and some would like to know more about it, would you please give us a brief introduction to PTE Academic?
Zheng Ying: PTE Academic is an academic English test for students whose first language is not English. It was launched in late 2009 by Pearson and is recognized by renowned colleges, universities, and training providers, e.g. New Oriental School in China and professional partners and associations across the English-speaking world. Globally, more than 2600 academic programs now accept PTE Academic scores. PTE Academic is endorsed and preferred by the prestigious Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®)， owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®)。
SINA Host: So PTE Academic is a very authoritative English test。
Zheng Ying: Absolutely。
SINA Host: Who is this test for? And what kind of institutions accepts PTE Academic?
接受PTE 学术英语考试成绩的还有119家 GMAC联盟学校， 包括：哈佛、斯坦福、伦敦商学院LBS、巴黎高等商学院HEC、西班牙IESE商学院、西班牙ESADE商学院、意大利博科尼管理学院-SDA Bocconi等，包括他们在中国开设的分校，如欧洲工商管理学院(INSEAD，含上海学校)、弗拉瑞克-鲁汶-根特管理学院Vlerick Leuven-Gent、中欧商学院。目前在中国国内认可的院校有中欧商学院、上海交通大学以及弗拉瑞克-鲁汶-根特管理学院Vlerick Leuven-Gent北京分校。
David Booth: PTE Academic is designed for non-native English speaking students who want to study in an English-speaking academic environment or need to prove their language ability as part of their visa application。
At the time of this interview, PTE Academic is recognized by over 2600 programs worldwide. Over 85% of universities in the UK recognize this test, of which 75% belong to the UK Russell Group. Chinese test takers may not know the Russell group that well. It is similar to the Ivy League in the USA, a group or a league comprising prestigious universities and colleges. At the same time, PTE Academic is recognized by over 1500 programs in the USA。
In addition to higher education institutions, PTE Academic is accepted by the UK Border Agency for Tier 2 and Tier 4 (student) visas. Recently, it was also approved by the Australian Department of Citizenship and Immigration (DIAC) for student visas。
PTE Academic is endorsed by the GMAC as their preferred test and is recognized by 119 GMAC member schools including Harvard, Stanford, LBS, HEC, IESE, IE, ESADE, SDA Bocconi, and INSEAD in China, Vlerick Leuven Gent, China Europe International Business School. The recognising institutions in China currently include: China Europe International Business School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Beijing)。
SINA Host: Thank you. As we know, test takers can use their PTE Academic scores to apply for their overseas studies. But in the past few years, students in China usually took TOEFL or IELTS. We have a question for David here: What makes PTE Academic different from traditional tests?
David Booth: PTE Academic has many advantages; one of the most important features is security. We use unrivalled biometric security measures ensuring confidence in student identity. The Pearson VUE test centers ensure that PTE Academic is the most secure test of its kind. Biometric screening, paper free testing, online-only certification and randomized test forms mean that institutions can have a very high degree of confidence in the students' results。
At the same time, PTE Academic is Informative. We give more details about test takers language abilities than any competitor tests on the market. In addition to an overall score on the Pearson Scale of English, we offer scores for the four communicative skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) and six enabling skills (oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, written discourse, vocabulary and grammar)。
It usually takes test takers 3 hours to finish the test. PTE Academic is a computer-based test and is scored by Pearson Knowledge Technology automatic scoring system. It means that human bias is greatly reduced to ensure that PTE Academic is an accurate test。
SINA Host: We mentioned that the test takers can book PTE Academic 48 hours in advance and can get their unlimited score reports within 5 business days. It’s quite different from TOEFL and IELTS. The customer-focused service makes PTE Academic a very convenient test for test takers。
Zheng Ying: Yes, it is. Sometimes applicants face a big problem. They would like to go abroad for their further studies, but they can’t take those traditional English tests for lack of seat availability reasons or for some other reasons. Since PTE Academic is a customer-focused test, its “Choose and book” registration, rapid results, unlimited score reports mean that we offer a flexible, reactive approach which focuses on the test takers’ needs。
SINA Host：Why do students call PTE Academic a real academic English test. What are its major academic features?
Zheng Ying：The Language Testing Division of Pearson produces a series of English tests, including PTE Academic, PTE General and PTE Young Learners. PTE Academic is for those applicants who need to prove their English language abilities in English-speaking academic situations, such as postgraduate, graduate, or MBA programs. PTE Academic is an authentic academic English test. Test items from PTE Academic are selected from authentic academic contexts. When you hear a lecture, it is a genuine academic lecture from a university setting - not actors reading a script. Test takers are tested by responding to realistic tasks demonstrating their integrative skills, which require real-time processing of the language and are sourced from a variety of international contexts and scenarios。
SINA Host: Many students want to know more about the item types included in PTE Academic。
Zheng Ying: There are 20 item types in PTE Academic, of which 11 item types assess integrated English abilities. For example, students may hear a university lecture, and they need to take notes on what the lecturer is saying; sometimes they may need to repeat what the lecturer said. And it’s also very possible that students need to describe a graph. These kinds of tasks are typical item types on PTE Academic。
SINA Host: How can you make sure the test is effective in measuring students’ English language ability?
David Booth：我们考试有一个特点是现实的，现实生活中我们估计考生完成这道题，做这个事情需要多少时间，考试所设计这个题型的时候， 所用时间是相对应的。
David Booth: One feature of PTE Academic is that it assesses real-life academic English skills. During two large scale field tests, we estimated how much time is optimal for each item type. The results from those timing analyses were used to set the actual time needed for live tests。
SINA Host: What do you think are the main reasons that PTE Academic should be preferred by institutions in the UK, the USA and Australia?
郑 英：考试的有效性与安全性是非常重要的因素。关于安全性方面之前已经说过了。而在考试效度以及设计方面，我们也是非常科学先进的 。PTE学术英语考试推出时间是2009年，但它早在此前就开始设计了，我们花了两到三年时间设计题型、甄选题目、完善这个考试。从最开始出题到后面审题，再到组合成一套题，是经过一系列的评审。
其中有一点我要提到的，我们考试是基于欧盟语言框架来设计的。我们出题者来自世界各地，主要包括三大英语地区，澳大利亚、英国、美国。所有出题方在他们出题之前我们要给他们进行一系列欧盟语言框架的培训，他们需要每提供一道题就给我们一个估计值，这道题的难度适合测量学生处于欧盟框架语言协定的水平。他们各自出的考题要区域互评，并不是说一方出了题就接受了，区域互评的目的是为了保证有可能带来的误差比较小一点。此外，我们还会通过评审流程，评估题目难度及所需完成时间，即在有效时间内测评学生的真实水平。Javier Munoz Parrondo，西班牙-IESE商学院 MBA招生总监表示，“PTE学术英语考试推动了测试革命的一大步”。
Zheng Ying: Test validity and security are very important features of a test. We have already talked about test security. PTE Academic takes various measures to ensure its test validity. The test was launched in 2009, but test design was started as early as 2006, and the two field tests were conducted in 2007 and 2008. The field tests were used to improve the test design, evaluate test items, and make sure the whole process follows scientific and systematic procedures from beginning to end。
It’s very important that the design of PTE Academic is based on the principles of the CEF. Our item writers are mainly from three countries, the UK, the USA and Australia. Item writers were trained on the CEF and they submit test items with CEF level estimates, which will be reviewed by item writers from other regions. The systematic procedures involved in item writing, item selection and items analysis ascertain that PTE Academic tests the real English language ability of students in an effective way. “PTE Academic is a step forward in the evolution of testing。” Javier Munoz Parrondo, the Director MBA Admissions of IESE Business School commented。
SINA Host: Obviously, we can see that the test is designed to a very high standard。
Zheng Ying: Yes, very high。
SINA Host: Nowadays, if taking TOEFL or IELTS, Chinese students need to get higher and higher scores every year for their applications, but why did the UKBA recently give PTE Academic a lower score requirement?
郑 英：我先说一下我的看法， 然后David会来讲UKBA 的问题。我认为其他考试因为在市场上存在的时间有一些长，大家对题型比较熟悉了，有很多考试培训和考题摸透了他的规律，这可能是一个因素。但我们作为一个新的考试，这方面问题是不存在的。至于UKBA的问题，请David回答一下。
Zheng Ying: Here are some of my thoughts on this. Some of the traditional tests have been in the market for a long time, and many students are very familiar with them, including test formats etc. From the university side, they need to know students' real English abilities from their submitted test scores. And I think the familiarity of those tests might be a factor that can inflate the scores. PTE Academic, being a new and more advanced test, can offer a more accurate measure of test takers' English abilities. Now David will talk answer your question regarding the UKBA requirement。
David Booth：我先介绍一下欧盟语言框架有六个层次： A1、A2，B1、B2，C1、C2，每两个层次之间有一个跨度。我们在出题的时候期望学生完成50%以上某一个层次的题，但是UKBA认为学生只要能完成那个层次比较容易的题就达到了他们需要的那个层度，因此我们跟他们经过认真讨论，认为培生学术英语考试的分数跟UKBA的欧盟语言框架的要求相对应是合理的。
David Booth: Let me introduce the CEF here first. The CEF has 6 levels, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. There is a degree of variation within each level. We had discussions with UKBA, discussing their alignment with the CEF. It became apparent that what they are looking for was not the middle of the band, or the top of the band, but in fact the lower end of the band. So when you have a set of items, for example, in the B1 band as we have for the PTE Academic, then you have some of them which are easier, some of them which are average, and some of them which are harder. The border agency told us that they are more interested in the people who are at the lower level, so we brought the scores down to align with that. Pearson recently held discussions with UKBA to further examine the level of English proficiency that students must demonstrate to meet Tier 4 visa requirements。
Since 8 July 2011, the new minimum PTE Academic scores which fulfill the UKBA’s criteria for a student visa are as follows:
To meet the UKBA requirement of a B1 level, a student must achieve a minimum PTE Academic score of 36 across all four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing。
To meet the UKBA requirement of a B2 level, students should achieve a minimum PTE Academic score of 51 across all four skills. These scores predict that a student will perform successfully on the easiest tasks at those levels。
The UKBA accepts PTE Academic scores which meet the new criteria, irrespective of when the test was taken. This includes test scores received before Friday 8 July 2011, provided that the score report is still valid. PTE Academic scores are valid for two years。
SINA Host: Many test takers will take PTE Academic when they know more about PTE Academic. Could you please give some suggestions for Chinese test takers, especially on how to prepare for the test?
David Booth：不管你的英语水平怎么样，备考是必须的，而且备考是我们中国学生比较擅长的。我们其实准备了很多备考材料，有免费的模拟考试、官方指南、考生手册。因为现在有很多专业合作伙伴，包括我刚才提到的新东方，新东方今年秋天会开设培训班，帮助考生准备PTE学术考试。除此之外我们还有一些动态提醒指南和考试小窍门集锦，所有的资料都可以在我们网站www.ptechina.org 上得到。
David Booth: There is always a need to prepare for a test, whatever your level of English is. There are different ways to prepare for the test:
We offer many materials for test takers, such as practice tests, the Official Guide to PTE Academic and the Test taker Handbook. And we also have many professional partners, for example, the New Oriental School as I mentioned at the beginning. New Oriental School will offer PTE Academic Training courses to help test takers to prepare for PTE Academic starting from this September。
Besides, we also offer some other preparation materials, such as the test Tutorial which gives a tour of PTE Academic, both in multi media format and in PDF format, as well as the Test Tips Booklet, which contains test tips for each of the 20 item types. You can find more information on our China Web for more information (www.ptechina.org)。
SINA Host: What would your recommendation be for test preparation?
Zheng Ying: I think it depends. It depends on your expectation and your current English level. PTE Academic tests real-life English abilities in tertiary academic settings, so the length and strength of test preparation will depend on particular situation of each test taker。
SINA Host: The interview is approaching its end now. Thank you both very much for coming here to share PTE Academic information with our web audiences. I believe after understanding the features of PTE Academic and knowing how to prepare for different items and where to get the test preparation materials, the Chinese PTE Academic test takers will perform better. Thank you all for taking part in this interview. If you would like to know more about PTE Academic, please follow the PTE Academic Official Weibo at http://weibo.com/pearsonpte. Bye!