Interview with IELTS Expert, Don Oliver from IDP

In the seventh segment of the interview, Don explains the linguistic studies and observations used for IELTS’ test development processes.

7.The linguistic studies and observations used for IELTS

Interviewer: What are some linguistic studies and observations that language assessment experts implement during the test development processes?

Don: This is another strong part of the IELTS story, really, because IELTS for the last 30 years has been encouraging research into the test. If you go to the IELTS website, you’ll find that you can look at the research reports that go back many years. And IELTS funds these. Money is given to researchers throughout the world to research aspects of the effect of IELTS, the validity of IELTS, the reliability of IELTS, all those important things when you are judging whether a test is a good test or not. And some of the things that are researched, you know, like, how reliable is the rating of the Writing Section? For example, “Is a handwritten script rated in the same way as a typed script?” “If the examiner is a male and the candidate is a female, does that affect anything?” “How good is IELTS at predicting success at university?” is another research question. I just delivered some information at a conference about the washback effect. In other words, “what is the effect on students and teachers of preparing for a test like IELTS?” “Does it have a positive impact or not?” All of these things, I mean, there are 1000 research questions. But if you’re interested in research, go to the website and you’ll find a lot of information about it.

Read research reports

Interviewer: Thank you for the detailed response. I think the things you mentioned are very important because it lets people know how neutral IELTS is and less biased.

Don: Yeah, it tries to be. It’s a genuine attempt to be as neutral, as unbiased, as culturally neutral as possible. And to be as transparent as possible, because not all tests are really transparent. You know, how are they testing? It’s not very clear sometimes. But I think it’s fairly clear with IELTS which can only help a student, I think.

Interviewer: That is very true.

About Don
1: Why did you become an IELTS Expert?
2: The tasks of an IELTS Expert
3: The tasks done for IDP
4: Teaching experience in Oman and Vietnam
5: The factors that helped IELTS establish its worldwide trust
6: Test design process for IELTS
7: The linguistic studies and observations used for IELTS←you’re here
8: About IELTS’ scoring system
9: The importance of IELTS’ Speaking Task
10: The drastic changes in the history of IELTS
About second language acquisition
11: Important factors for second language acquisition
12: Important factors for beginner-level learners of English
13: Important factors for mid-level learners of English
14: Important factors for advanced-level learners of English