I had the chance to be an oral examiner for Cambridge Business English Test. I participated all the three levels: preliminary, vantage and higher. I noticed there are some loopholes in the test, and frankly I think ESOL could do better to make more money.
- The biggest loopholes is the small repertoire of questions for speaking. I noticed during the exam that students seem to know the questions beforehand, and had made prepared versions of certain questions we asked. Some are even using the words from the backup questions in their speech. I guess this are some brain dump sites for used questions, and students can just use them to rehearsal. I also believe it is easy for students who have taken the test, to text message the questions to other test takers in the waiting room
- During part II of the oral exam, one thing that irks me most is that test takers does not listen to their partner’s talk. They keep preparing for their small presentation, and when they are requested to ask a question about their partner’s speech, the frequent question would be: “Of the points you just mentioned, which one you think is more important?”. They deserve a markdown for cheating like this.
Anyway, I think English tests such as BEC, IELTS and TOFEL are just cash cows. Why does BEC need three levels for a speaking test? Can’t it make the grade range from one to nine like IELTS’s? Most BEC takers are likely to take two levels of BEC, which I think is unnecessary. For IELTS and TOFEL, they can go fuck themselves for a short expiration period of the test score — two years. They should make it five years like GRE test scores. I don’t think my English will drastically become poorer after two years, actually it is the other way around. The only reason I can think of is IELTS and GRE wants to make more money on a faster cycle.