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Pearson Offers Competing Test in English as Second Language

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September 8, 2009 Pearson Offers Competing Test in English as Second Language By ERIC PFANNER Pearson, the British publishing company, has developed a test for English as a second language, seeking to compete with two nonprofit groups that currently dominate that fast-growing market. The company plans to announce Tuesday that it will start selling the Pearson Test of English Academic in October. It will compete with the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or Toefl, which is managed by an American organization, the Educational Testing Service, and with the International English Language Testing System, or Ielts, run by a British-Australian group. Pearson estimates that about two million such tests are taken annually, mostly by business-school applicants and job seekers. With demand surging in places like India and China, the number of tests taken has doubled over the last four years, Pearson says. Pearson said prices of its test would range from $150 to $210, depending on the country, roughly in line with its competitors. That means such tests, over all, generate several hundred million dollars in annual revenue. “You can see why it’s a significant operation for the existing nonprofit operators and why it’s so attractive to us,” said Mark Anderson, president of Pearson Language Tests. “It’s a fairly commercial, competitive market already. We’re going to make it more so.” Pearson says it has commitments to recognize its test results, or is in the process of getting them, from 770 educational programs. Ielts says its test is recognized by nearly 6,000 organizations. Pearson said it would use computers rather than humans to grade its test, reducing the waiting time for results.

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