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The context for assessment


To examine a context in which you are going to apply your evaluation criteria

Approx. 15 minutes

Analysing a testing context: 1

Let’s put your criteria to use. Provided below is a description of a teaching and learning context. You are going to help them to identify an appropriate assessment.

TASK: You are going to read about the context in which the test is to be used. As you read, make notes on factors that you consider to be important for the assessment of the course.

EWC (English with Confidence) Language School is launching a new speaking course and the Course Director needs to decide what assessment to use. It has been agreed that an externally produced assessment will be used. 

Below you can find an advert for the course, a set of learning aims, and some other key information.


“Ready to take your English speaking skills to the next level? Join our Intermediate English Language Speaking Course today!

Designed for learners who already have a basic understanding of the English language, this course will help you develop your speaking skills, expand your vocabulary, and build your confidence in using English.

Led by experienced instructors, our course offers a dynamic and interactive learning environment where you can engage in discussions, role-plays, debates, and presentations to practise your English speaking skills.

You’ll also receive personalised feedback on your pronunciation, intonation, and fluency, so you can identify areas for improvement and make progress quickly. We’ll cover grammar structures, including tenses, modal verbs, and reported speech, to help you express yourself more accurately and confidently.

Whether you’re looking to improve your English for personal or professional reasons, our Intermediate English Language Speaking Course will equip you with the skills you need to communicate confidently and effectively.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to take your English speaking skills to the next level. Enrol now and start speaking English with Confidence!”

Learning aims

  1. Develop the ability to express opinions, ideas, and arguments in spoken English with greater clarity and accuracy.
  2. Expand the vocabulary range to include more advanced and nuanced words and phrases.
  3. Improve fluency and naturalness in spoken English by practising common phrases and expressions.
  4. Enhance the ability to understand and produce more complex grammatical structures such as the past perfect, conditional clauses, and reported speech.
  5. Practice using idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs in context to improve overall comprehension and communication skills.
  6. Develop active listening skills to better understand natural English conversation and respond appropriately.
  7. Refine pronunciation and intonation to improve overall clarity and communication effectiveness.
  8. Build confidence and reduce anxiety when communicating in English in both social and professional situations.
  9. Enhance cross-cultural communication skills by understanding the social and cultural contexts of English language use.
  10. Prepare for future academic or professional situations by improving spoken English skills for presentations, interviews, and discussions.

Contextual information

  • Learners will be placement tested and must be at B1 level to join the course
  • The course is 12 weeks long and involves 3 hours of study per week (2 x 1.5 hour classes)
  • EWC has a policy of trusting its teachers and teachers will have the flexibility to design the course around their learners provided activities are in line with the learning aims. 
  • EWC has a computer room and a reputation for good use of technology to support learning.
  • The Director of EWC wants to use an exam that will enhance the school’s reputation. 
  • The cost of any assessment will be passed on to learners through the course fees.

Analysing a testing context: 2

TASK: What do you think are the key points for the assessment of this course? 

Think about the following:

  • Course focus
  • Learning aims
  • The learners
  • Practicalities

Suggested answers

Course focus

The main focus of the course is spoken communication. The course does include work on grammar and vocabulary but this is as a means to develop speaking skills. The chosen assessment should test speaking.

Learning aims

The learning aims include functions (expressing opinions, ideas, and arguments, giving presentations, doing interviews), language (e.g. past perfect, conditionals, reported speech and phrasal verbs), discourse features (active listening, cross-cultural skills), fluency and pronunciation. Ideally, all of these areas should be covered by the assessment. 

The learners

The learners are choosing to take (and pay for) the course so are likely to be motivated learners with high expectations. All of the learners will be at least B1 (Intermediate) level . This suggests they will probably have prior experience of learning English and are likely to have taken language tests before. 


The learners are going to be adults and as such are likely to be busy people with multiple demands on their time. The classes are 1.5 hours so it would be better if the assessment could fit into this time. There is a computer room available if required. Cost doesn’t seem to be an issue. There seems to be a demand from the Director for some kind of ‘prestige’ test.