Taking decisions: Assessment for university entry

Sibylle Plassmann 1  and Beate Zeidler 2
  • 1 Head of Test Development, telc – language tests
  • 2 Senior Validation Officer, telc – language tests


Language testing means taking decisions: about the test taker's results, but also about the test construct and the measures taken in order to ensure quality. This article takes the German test telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule as an example to illustrate this decision-making process in an academic context. The test is used for university entry; therefore, the main stakeholders are academic and administrative staff as well as international students about to take up their studies in Germany. The test provider had to take the stakeholders' expectations and teaching traditions into account and at the same time identify disagreements and conflicting expectations. In the end, the almost unlimited possible ways of testing in this context had to be narrowed down. While not all decisions which lead to a valid form of assessment can be presented here, we provide an illustration of the key phases: the definition of the test construct, the construction of the test format and the actual examining. There is a special focus on the definition of academic German, especially in view of a very heterogeneous target-group. In addition, concrete examples from the initial test development phase are presented, from defining the format for the writing task to choosing texts for reading and testing grammar. Ongoing work on the test is illustrated by insights into the commissioning of new tasks and the rating of open-ended questions.

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Language Learning in Higher Education, the journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education, deals with the most relevant aspects of language acquisition at university. It publishes contributions presenting the outcomes of research on language teaching, blended learning and autonomous learning, and language assessment, as well as aspects of professional development, quality assurance and university language policy.