Online Speaking and Writing Exams that are AI-based

Language tests capable of reliably “automarking” written or spoken language, was something thought not possible 10 years ago.

Artificial Intelligence in Language Testing has Arrived!

One key feature that distinguishes us—humans—from everything else in the world, is our intelligence. The ability to understand, apply knowledge and improve skills has played a significant role in our evolution and establishing human civilization.

 

At the heart of our evolution, has been the development of human language. It’s historically been seen as one of the most important areas of distinction between humans and all other life forms.

 

But increasingly, the advancement in computer technology has created a new super-intelligence—artificial intelligence or AI—that can match what we have done. 

What is an AI-based proficiency test?

An AI-based test uses artificial intelligence known as an automarker. This technology can evaluate learners’ writing without the need for a human examiner.  Among the areas the automarker looks at are:

  • Vocabulary use

          Single words

          Formulaic language

          Diversity

  • Grammar and usage

          Accuracy

         Sophistication

 

  • Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc.

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  • Idea development

          Length

How does it work?

The automarker is given thousands of examples of learners’ writing along with the level of writing of each piece. These examples are taken from the whole range of Cambridge Assessment English exams and tests.

 

Because the machine knows the CEFR level of each script it can associate the positive and negative features and patterns of features that correspond to different levels of the CEFR spectrum.

 

The machine then applies what it has learnt to new scripts using an algorithm.

What are the benefits of using an automarker?

Because the test is taken online and automarked it is easy to set up and administer. It also enables fast turnaround of results (within 12 hours).

 

Due to the extensive trialing in the global trails—a high percentage were Thai native speakers in the global trails—the automarker can be trusted to give accurate results.

How can it be Trusted?

Extensive trialing of thousands of scripts from learners around the world has shown the results given by the automarker are as good as any human marker.

 

Vantage was part of this work and we had hundreds of Thai speakers participate in pilot testing in 2016 and early 2017.

 

Cambridge English is currently working on a report that summarizes its findings. Vantage will share this with you shortly.

Want to Know More?

The Trial Overview Report can be downloaded below.  A second report, on the computer-adaptive Reading & Listening trail, is also available.

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