New English Test for B-School Candidates

Ensuring that MBA candidates, who’s English is not their native language, can handle the rigours of the classroom and academics is a big concern for the Admissions Committees (AdComs), especially given the huge increase in applications from both India and China. In addition, AdComs are always trying to ensure that the applications, essays & test scores all come from the same person, the candidate. That’s why virtually every top business school today insists on a face-to-face interview, as part of the admissions process.

The new English test, known as the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), seems to be another way to help filter and legitimize the candidate pool. Pearson is one of the worldwide leaders in technology and assessment for education. They have been working since 2006 with the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who runs the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), on developing this new test that will debut on October 26, 2009 for non-native English speakers.

Part of this computer-based test involves providing a 30-second voice sample / recording for schools to assess your English proficiency. While I’m not sure how much you can tell in 30 seconds, the new PTE Academic seems to be gaining momentum and according to the official press release, schools already signed-up to accept these new test scores include London Business School, University of British Columbia, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Edinburgh, HEC Paris and Yale University.

John Elliott, vice president and dean of Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, says enabling admissions committees to listen to a recorded speech sample will help accurately identify whether an applicant truly is proficient in English. “This element is critical in making difficult admission decisions,” he says.

“We also like its innovative design and other capabilities — and we know that it will be administered with the same high standards of security that characterize the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) — ensuring us that the test taker and the applicant for admission are the same person.”

During the launch period, the test will be available in a minimum of 20 territories including China, Taiwan, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, India and Canada in a price of range of $150 to $210 USD. No word yet on what this means for established tests such as the TOEFL and IELTS.

Leave a Reply