Introduction to PTE Academic and our on-going Research

PTE Academic is a leading computer-based academic English language test designed for international students. PTE Academic assesses English language skills in more ways than any other test.

In 2007, as part of the development of PTE Academic, Pearson began a research program with the involvement of internal and external researchers, leading to regular publications and presentations at international conferences.

Since 2010 Pearson has published a yearly call inviting educational institutions and qualified researchers to submit proposals on a range of topics relating to PTE Academic: predictive and concurrent validity, stakeholders’ perceptions etc. Findings from these studies are published in peer-reviewed academic journals, or alternatively, uploaded on the LT website as short research summaries. See for details of studies conducted in previous years. The 2014 research call is now available on the As in previous years, the main criteria guiding the selection process is:

  • Sound theoretical foundation
  • Clear methodology
  • Promising contribution(s) to the field of second/foreign language testing
  • Feasibility of the research, given the budget and timeline
  • Match with Pearson’s research agenda and compliance with data protection and ethics standards.

What is new is that we now accept proposals on PTE Academic, and additionally, on the validation of the GSE, the metric underlying all Pearson English learning, teaching and assessment products.

The S&Q office is responsible for the management of regular meetings with Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs). These are formed of international experts (academics, psychometricians and practitioners) in the fields of second language acquisition, language teaching and assessment. The main role of the TAGs is to provide independent advice, feedback and critical assessment of our products and services, with a particular focus on assessment and syllabus.

Here is a brief look at findings and outcomes from projects Pearson funded through the past year’s call.

Concurrent and predictive validity of PTE Academic – Mehdi Riazi, Macquarie University, Australia

This study was conducted on a sample of 60 undergraduate and postgraduate students (from 19 different nationalities) at Macquarie University. The first finding of the study was that PTE Academic yields a significant concurrent validity with IELTS. The study also found a significant, although moderate, relationship between participants’ performance on the test and their academic achievement as measured by their GPA. Results show that as the participants’ PTE Academic scores increased, their academic performance became on par or exceeded that of the norm group such that those in C1 and higher levels of the Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR) outperformed the norm group academically.