The TOEFL® Computerized Placement Test: Adaptive Conventional Measurement

Hicks, Marilyn M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-89-12, TOEFL-RR-31
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
Adaptive testing computer-assisted testing computerized placement tests English as a second language test construction


This study focused on methods of computerized adaptive testing using conventional scoring methods in order to develop a TOEFL® computerized placement test. As a consequence of simulation studies conducted during the first phase of this study, the multilevel testing paradigm was adopted for this development. Its implementation produced three test levels varying in difficulty, each approximately half the length of the regular TOEFL test. Data from a preliminary validation study were presented that indicated the test was functioning satisfactorily. Responses to a questionnaire administered to the sample of examinees revealed that 72% of the group had never been exposed to a computer before this testing experience. Nonetheless, 59% indicated that they preferred the computerized test to the paper-and-pencil version or were neutral. The apparent lack of computer experience among ESL students will need to be considered in any computerized test development for this group of examinees.

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