From travel restrictions to social distancing and isolation to quarantine and border closures, all walks of life have come to a standstill and have been dramatically impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Abroad education is one such field that was majorly impacted by the ongoing Pandemic situation.
So much so that, according to a recent survey by QS, 46% of its respondents have agreed that the current situation has impacted their study abroad plans while 25% of the respondents were not sure of the consequences and 29% of the respondents said that it has not changed their mind or plans to study abroad.
Amidst the uncertainty of studying abroad, university admissions, the start date of classes, and study visas, many universities and educational organizations abroad have stepped up to take preventive measures and made student safety their priority. All while ensuring that the current or upcoming academic year is not impacted. Students who were set to start classes in Summer were given options to defer their joining date or take virtual (online) classes and move to university from next semester by when the situation is believed to come under control.
As for students who are still planning to study abroad or are in the middle of initiating their study abroad process, are stuck at homes with the cities under complete lockdown. This naturally included the shutting down of test centers for TOEFL, GRE, IELTS and many more. However, in the recent development of events, ETS (Educational Testing Service has announced that students can now take their TOEFL iBT and GRE General tests from the comfort of their home. The same has been implemented for IELTS tests as well.
What is it?
On April 2, 2020, ETS, a global leader in educational measurement and the non-profit organization that is responsible for TOEFL and GRE has announced TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and GRE General Test at-home Solution and made them available worldwide for test-takers who reside in Cornavirus affected places. These products allow test-takers from around the world (except in China and Iran) to take TOEFL and GRE tests from their homes.
As students looking to take tests in order to get abroad university admissions are unable to do so due to the shut down of physical test centers, providing an option to take standardized tests right from the comfort and safety of one’s home is a welcome relief to aspiring students. This move also provides assurance that organizations and universities around the world are doing everything possible to ensure a smooth journey for abroad education, come next semester (Fall).
Alberto Acereda, the Executive Director of the Global Higher Education division at ETS said: “It was imperative for us to create a timely, flexible and reliable solution to allow students the opportunity to take these tests so that they can complete time-sensitive applications that will allow them to continue on their educational journeys”. He also ensured that test-takers can expect the same valid and reliable tests that are administered in test centers from the comfort of their home.
How are the tests conducted?
The tests are conducted through the combination of Artificial Intelligence Technology and Live Human Remote Proctoring that is serviced by ProctorU, a leading Proctoring service for online testing. ProctorU has over 1000 Proctors around the world and can service over 2-3 lakh test-takers per month.
The tests conducted at home will be identical to the tests conducted at a physical test center in terms of content, format, on-screen experience, scoring, and pricing. The test taker will have the ability to preview, skip questions, review, and change answers in the GRE General Test, and the ability to read and view test scores at the end of the TOEFL iBT test.
Does this have the same validity and standard as the test taken at a physical test center?
ETS has taken every precaution to ensure that the test taken at home will meet the highest standard for validity, security, and reliability by employing multiple and real-time monitoring that utilizes both Artificial Intelligence and a live Human monitoring solution.
Srikant Gopal, the Executive Director of the TOEFL program said “We understand the challenges that our test takers are facing worldwide and are pleased to now offer an option to safely test at home without compromising the integrity of our tests. ETS prides itself on its test security measures, and this solution is consistent with those self-imposed high standards, which are relied upon by institutions around the world who trust that these tests provide an accurate picture of an applicant’s abilities”.
When can one take these home tests?
Registrations are currently open for test dates through June 2020. Aspiring students can select from numerous test slots each week based on their comfort and availability. You can visit the below links to register for the tests.
GRE General: https://www.ets.org/mygre
ETS is further assessing the changing situations to determine if additional test dates are to be added. You can also follow us to receive timely updates as and when available.
What about IELTS?
IELTS has also recently announced the online edition of its tests through IELTS Indicator for test-takers who are currently unable to take the test due to Coronavirus lockdown. While the IELTS test can be taken from the safety of one’s homes, the officials have advised confirming with the university if they are accepting an online IELTS score before going ahead with the test booking. You can start booking from April 22, 2020, onwards. The online facility to take this test is available for a limited time and will be discontinued when the lockdown will be lifted and physical test centers are open again. You may start booking your slots from the below link.
IELTS booking link: https://www.ieltsindicator.com/
What about PTE?
At the time of writing this article, PTE has not announced any online version of its tests. However, we believe it will be available soon. We will update it as soon as the information is available, so do follow us.
Is there an alternative to IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL?
With the suspension of Standard English Proficiency Tests like IELTS around the world, more and more US Higher Educational Institutions have started accepting the Duolingo English Test as either a stand-alone proof or to supplement the measures of other English-language proficiency.
Duolingo English Test is a relatively newer English Proficiency Test that is accepted by over 500 Institutions all over the world. It is a 45-minute test that can be taken from the comfort of your home or even your mobile phone and get results within 2 days for as little as $49 only.
For more updated information on the latest developments in the world of abroad education and how Coronavirus is impacting it, check out our latest blog article here.
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