Language placement test review

Evaluating the effectiveness of a multi-language suite of language placement tests

The study focusses on the multi-method evaluation of a suite of language placement tests for seven languages embedded in an institutional policy

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Language placement tests are used widely as an effective means to place students into courses or programs, however, they have received less research attention than more high-stakes standardized language tests in terms of validity (Green, 2018). Because of their direct relationship to educational courses and complex institutional enrolment structures, placement tests can pose challenges to validation processes.

The current study focusses on a suite of online language placement tests for seven languages in an Australian tertiary education context, where students wishing to study a language need to complete a background questionnaire and a language placement test and are then provided with a recommended entry level which directly links with the university enrolment system. The complex nature of this testing process, which includes stakeholders with expertise in language teaching (across seven quite different language programs), language testing, IT, student enrolment and student advice, as well as the student cohort themselves, challenges existing validation frameworks.

In this project, we conduct a large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the language placement tests across the seven languages. Results of the study focus on statistical analyses of the test data, which were linked to final course data to examine statistical properties, as well as qualitative investigations (surveys and focus groups) to gain in-depth understanding of the efficacy of the placement procedures.

Project details


School of Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and Asia Institute, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne

Project team members

Ute Knoch
Annemiek Huisman
Ivy Chen
Andrew Pitman
Jason Fan


Ute Knoch
Annemiek Huisman