Everything you need to know about the Versant tests

Pearson Languages
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From sending emails and participating in conference calls to studying a masters degree or communicating on social media, in today’s globalized world, English is used by more and more second-language English speakers in their daily lives.

For this reason, many schools, institutions and businesses now require their students or employees to have a minimum level of English. That’s why we need quick and efficient ways to test people’s proficiency and make sure they have the skills needed to communicate effectively.

This is where Versant tests come in. Our suite of four exams can be used to test various skills and competencies depending on the organization's needs. What’s more, they can be taken anywhere, at any time and the results are received instantly – making recruitment or enrollment a much smoother process.

This guide will help answer some questions you may have about the tests, and provide some links to useful resources.

What are the Versant tests?

The Versant tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in all or some of the four skills; speaking, writing, listening, or reading. They vary in length from between 17 to 50 minutes, and the results are available immediately afterwards.

There are four Versant products available, and they differ depending on which skills are considered most relevant to the candidates, or their places of work and study. It is possible to focus specifically on speaking or writing, for example, instead of a candidate’s entire skill set.

One thing which is consistent across all the tests is that they are fully automated, and can be delivered online or offline around the world at any time. The scores are then available immediately after finishing the test – so there will be no more agonizing waits for results!

In addition, other languages are also available in the testing suite; including Arabic, Dutch, French, Spanish and Aviation English.

Who are they for?

Organizations, institutions and corporations can use Versant tests to establish language proficiency benchmarks.

For businesses, they are a simple, reliable, and efficient tool for Human Resources (HR) departments to make sure their staff have the level required in the given language.

In an educational context, the tests are an excellent way for schools to place students within a certain program, to measure their progress and check their level at the end of a course to see if they are ready to move on.

What skills do they test?

The structure and content of the tests vary depending on which one you choose. Whichever one you select, all you need to take them is a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a headset with a built-in microphone. What’s more some of our speaking only tests (English, Spanish and French) can also be taken on your smartphone via the mobile app.

The Versant English Placement Test (VEPT) is the most thorough, taking 50 minutes in total. It focuses on speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The nine task types include reading aloud, repeats, sentence building, conversations, typing, sentence completion, dictation, passage reconstruction, along with providing a summary and opinion. This broad range of assessment is ideal for evaluating every aspect of a candidate’s language ability, from their pronunciation to their knowledge of grammar and complex language use.

But if this is too comprehensive for your needs, there are shorter, more focused alternatives:

The Versant English Test (VET) is a 17-minute assessment designed to evaluate speaking skills. This test can ensure that current or future employees meet the standard required to communicate effectively in a second language by assessing a student's sentence mastery, fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

The Versant Writing Test (VWT) is a test of the candidate’s proficiency in writing skills. Taking approximately 35 minutes, the candidates are tested on their grammar, vocabulary, organization, register, and ability to read appropriate texts. Summarizing, taking notes, and responding to emails in a second language are key to many businesses nowadays, such as call centers. This test will allow companies to create a benchmark for their current and future employees related to specific writing skills.

The Versant 4 Skills Essential recognizes the growing need for people to be adept in all four language skills, even in entry-level jobs. Throughout this 30-minute web-based test, candidates undertake a variety of tasks including sentence formation, listening comprehension and written dictation.

Due to its short time limit, flexible web-based approach, and focused skill assessment, this suits fast-paced recruitment environments, helping to identify the best applicants as efficiently and accurately as possible.

What are the key features?

Once a candidate completes their test, a unique score report can be accessed immediately. This details a candidate’s performance in each stage, suggestions for improvement, and an overall CEFR or GSE score (or equivalent). This is thanks to our advanced speech and text processing technology. There is no need for a human examiner, which means scoring can be done instantaneously.

Moreover, thanks to the objective nature of this technology, results will be given without the potential bias of an examiner. This makes scores extremely reliable and consistent across a wide range of candidates.

VET also has concordances to TOEFL iBT and TOEIC. VEPT is also aligned to IELTS.

Finally, the ScoreKeeper administration tool is available with all Versant exams and allows businesses or educational institutions to manage the testing of all their candidates in one place. By using this, assigning tests, uploading rosters and exporting results can all be done remotely, regardless of a candidate's location.

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