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June 07, 2011

IELTS hit by fraud as testing monopoly ends in Australia

Teaching-English-in-Japan-Education-IELTS" The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) has issued a strong warning against cheating to candidates after a student from China revealed to SBS Mandarin News Australia how he was paid to sit the English language immigration test for others.

The TV station found evidence of an emerging black market service that falsifies everything international students need to get permanent residency in Australia: from organising fake passports to finding a substitute to sit their English exam for them. Those offering the service allegedly contact the 'substitute' students directly, using a popular Chinese instant messaging program. SBS Mandarin found the IELTS substitution was almost an open secret.

In related news, Curtin University has told a West Australia anti-corruption hearing that it is considering closing its IELTS business following an incident in which a Curtin staff member, Keith Low, used IELTS software to fix results for students in exchange for cash. Curtin representatives told the hearing that IELTS software often crashed, causing log-in problems that in turn led their staff staff to share passwords, leading to security lapses.

Professor Hackett of Curtin criticized the former monopoly that required those wishing to study in Australia have an IELTS score: "If there had been more competition . . . it may have been necessary for [IELTS owner] Cambridge to progress faster in their software development."

The Australian government recently approved the Pearson Test of English Academic and the TOEFL for student visa purposes.

See also:
Full statement from IELTS warning fraudsters
English language test authority warns cheaters
Curtin University may decide IELTS too risky
Australia accepts Pearson Test of English
Australia accepts TOEFL

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I have been teaching IELTS for over 10 years and was an examiner. However, I believe that it should be replaced with in-house tests or other standardized tests. While reading and listening tests are reasonable, the speaking and writing reliability rates are low in the little research done (low 80s in the little research done). Invigilators are not well trained, descriptors are too general and vague and my own anecdotal observation is that scores are highly erratic. Cambridge refuses to publish the annual reliability rates of writing and speaking arguing it cannot be done on tests that are not scored on an item to item basis. However, other tests such as CELPIP are reporting high reliability rates for speaking and are testing in a more comprehensive and fairer manner.

Well..!! I strongly believe the IELTS exam is a business.The exam appear to me, like a suspicious activity from the exam authority. The exam is not at all transparent as they collect your question paper along with the answer sheet and will just let you know the result,Where the students have no option to see the answer sheet or question paper after they finish the exam,even if there is a dispute against the result published.

Also there are various traces of discrimination by asking the first language,nationality etc. After all its just an exam to test the language skills.There is no point for the exam authority to ask these questions to evaluate the language skills of the candidate.

Also why do they have to ask 'what is the purpose of writing the exam' which is totally unacceptable,as it is a part of the privacy of students(I believe they demote the score of candidates by categorising in this discriminative manner.)

The two modules of IELTS exam which is reading and listening,the answer sheets of which are evaluated by computer.It is quiet possible to make mistakes in this process and students have no access to the answer sheet rather than blindly believing the score is what they published.Even if the answer sheets are given for revaluation most likely the examination board tend to say the same result.

THE BALL IS ALWAYS IN THEIR COURT, therefore the exam is totally unfair and they are squeezing the hard earned money out of the candidates,and running a well worth business.

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