Overview of the Reading Test

Content
There are 5 tasks in the reading test booklet. For each task, the test taker will read an authentic text and answer between 6 and 10 items. The reading tasks will vary in terms of difficulty from intermediate to advanced, and cover a wide range of general topics. There will be a minimum of 35 and a maximum of 40 questions per test.

Task Types and Length
The reading test targets the test takers’ ability to:

  • identify the gist of a text
  • identify specific information and important details
  • understand main ideas and supporting details
  • infer propositional meaning
  • deduce the meaning of unknown words

The following methods of testing reading may be used: 

  • multiple choice
  • short answers
  • matching
  • true/false with justification
  • sequencing

Multiple Choice
In this test method test takers are required to complete a number of questions or statements based on the text. Test takers are provided with four possible solutions (A, B, C, or D) for each question or statement.

Short Answers
This test method requires the test taker to answer a number of questions or to complete a number of sentences based on the text. In both cases the answer should be written in the space provided using not more than 4 words.

True/False with Justification
This test method requires the test taker to read the text and then decide if the statements that follow the text are true or false.  In addition, the test taker must provide the justification or proof by copying the first four words from the relevant sentence of the text. Justification must be given for both true and false answers.

Matching
In this test method a number of phrases have been removed from the text and included in a table below the text. The test taker must choose the correct phrase from the table for each of the gaps in the text.

Sequencing
In this test method a number of events from a text have been paraphrased and listed in random order in a table below the text. The test taker is required to read the text and put these events into the order in which they took place. This is not necessarily the same order in which they appear in the text.

As the multiple choice test method is very familiar, the samples tasks and justifications will focus on the less familiar methods of testing: sequencing, matching, short answer and true/false with justifications.

Link to sample reading tasks

Time
Test takers have 90 minutes to complete the 5 tasks in the test.

Scoring and Results
Each correct item will receive one point.
Mistakes of spelling, punctuation and grammar will not be penalized under the short answer method.
Under the true/false with justification method it is necessary to identify correctly whether the statement is true or false and to provide the justification in order to get one point. No half points will be given.
The total number of points a test taker achieves after completing all 5 tasks will then be converted to a result which will be expressed in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) proficiency scale. The CEFR describes six levels of language proficiency from basic users to independent and proficient users.  The knowledge, competencies and skills of an independent or proficient user are relevant to government officials wishing to undertake practical training or academic courses where English is the medium of instruction. Therefore the DIFA TES focuses on the following three CEFR levels:

  • B1, or Independent User: Intermediate
  • B2, or Independent User: Upper Intermediate
  • C1, or Proficient User: Advanced

Thus each test-taker will receive one of these six possible results:

  • Below B1
  • B1
  • B1+
  • B2
  • B2+
  • C1

Why use the CEFR? The CEFR is an internationally recognised framework of language descriptors that makes it easy to understand what level a test taker is at in terms of their reading, listening, writing and speaking abilities.

You can find out more about the CEFR by following these links:


http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/CADRE1_EN.asp
http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/elp/elp-reg/Source/Key_reference/CEFR_EN.pdf

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