First computer-based IELTS/TOEFL test centre in the country

First computer-based IELTS/TOEFL test centre in the country

Another avenue for candidates aspiring to sit for English language proficiency tests launched

Looking for a place to sit for an online English language proficiency exam test? Chhundu Training Institute (CTI) in the heart of the capital along with the British Council launched the ‘first computer-based’ IELTS/TOEFL test centre in the country yesterday.

With this, CTI becomes a part of the IELTS computer-based testing network which was launched in Australia in December 2017. Although the centre is currently operational for written tests, candidates are expected to avail the computer-based testing services within two months from now.

“Some mechanisms are yet to be furnished and completed to fulfill the mandates of the British Council. Then we can commence with the official computer-based tests,” the Institute’s Head of Operations, Palden Tshering told Business Bhutan.

Speaking to representatives of the Association of Bhutanese Educational Consultancies (ABEC) during the launch, Country Director for the British Council in Dhaka, Tom Miscioscia said that he is happy to get Bhutan involved in the network. “Our business is about changing young people’s life through high quality testing all over the world. It’s the same case here in Bhutan and through this centre, we welcome all Bhutanese to study in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Palden Tshering said that there are so many advantages for the candidates who come to avail the computer-based test services as it is cheaper, consumes lesser space, private and conducive environment, in addition to being at par when it comes to the fees compared to the paper-based tests.

Another important edge that computer-based tests will have over paper-based tests is that all tests will be conducted on the same day and results will be declared within a day or forty-eight hours. Reiterating on the advantages again, Palden Tshering said that if a candidate fails in one module and gets through the other three modules of the test, he/she will have to redo the test only for the one in which they have failed. “In the paper-based test, candidates have to redo tests in all the modules if he/she fails even in one module from the four,” he added.

Amongst others, the computer-based test will have the same content and features like the paper-based tests. The speaking test will be with a human examiner through an online video call and the time allotted will be an hour each for reading and writing, while 30 minutes will be provided for listening with an additional two minutes at the end to review the answers.

In order to enable better concentration and lower stress, the test rooms are smaller where 13 candidates can sit in one go for IELTS and 10 candidates for TOEFL. Flexibility will also be provided whereby candidates can opt for the examination in the afternoon or morning, or before/after the Speaking test.

There will also be no need to count the words since it will already be visible on the screen. Candidates have individual headphones for the Listening section which ensures clearer audio and better concentration. A red light will beep 10 or 5 minutes before the stipulated time ends to remind the candidate.

“Other miscellaneous but important things candidates will have advantage over are handwriting quality, editing, highlighting, text size and audio volume,” the Head of Operations said.

Additionally, the screen will have a navigation bar where the candidate can view the progress at the bottom and track answers that they have missed out.  Candidates can review their answers anytime within the overall time limit by clicking on the number they wish to review and the navigation bar will be highlighted for maximum comfort.

Candidates can manage their time and go forward/backward as per their wishes. Their answers will be automatically saved. They can change any answer anytime without any hassles.

Candidates can also expect differences in several aspects between paper-based and computer-based test IELTS formats.

Paper-based IELTS will come with an answer sheet and a pencil for writing. The candidates will have to write answers on this sheet within the stipulated time. In computer-based IELTS tests, candidates will have to type answers in their respective boxes on the screen. A pencil or pen and some paper will still be provided for making notes in this format as well.  The computer-based test is tailored for those with basic typing abilities.

Like the paper-based IELTS examination, the computer-based version begins with Listening, followed by the Reading and Writing tests. The Speaking test is held on the same day before or after the computer-based examination.

In the paper-based IELTS format, the candidate will be writing answers in the question booklet while hearing the recording. They get 10 minutes at the close of the Listening section for transferring the answers to the official answer sheet. The candidate will be typing answers in suitable boxes on the screen in the computer-based format. They will have time between the sections for scrutinizing answers without any extra time at the conclusion.

Paper-based IELTS examinations in Bhutan are at educational institutions in large halls. Computer-based IELTS tests are usually done in custom-tailored smaller rooms. Everything in these testing rooms is designed accordingly for maximum comfort.

Everybody appearing for the computer-based IELTS will get their own computer, a high-quality display unit, headphones for taking the Listening section, and a brand-new room for testing. They will not have to talk to the device so no microphone will hinder performance. CTI will offer noise-canceling headphones to enable better emphasis on self-performance.

Meanwhile, CTI took almost two months in the offing to gear up for the project which finally culminated in its launching last week. The institute will be gradually expanding its services by opening up test centres in other Dzongkhags as well.

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu