Second Language Evaluation

Test of Reading Comprehension

Level A

Requires comprehension of texts on topics of limited scope

A person reading at this level can:

  • understand simple texts with elementary information
  • grasp the main idea of texts on familiar topics

Score: 18 to 27

Level B

Requires comprehension of most descriptive or factual material on work-related topics

A person reading at this level can:

  • grasp the main idea of most work-related texts
  • identify specific details
  • distinguish between main and subsidiary ideas

Score: 28 to 37

Level C

Requires comprehension of texts dealing with a wide variety of work-related topics

A person reading at this level can:

  • understand most complex details, inferences and fine points of meaning
  • demonstrate good comprehension of specialized or less familiar material

Score: 38 to 44

*An exemption (“E”) from further second language reading comprehension testing will be granted to persons who obtain a score of 45 to 50

**An “X” is the result for those below level “A” who obtain a score of 0 to 17

Format:

Made up of a variety of texts, for example:

  • emails
  • notes / memos
  • letters
  • information bulletins
  • excerpts from reports
  • research papers

Assesses your ability to understand texts written in your second official language:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions (only 50 count towards your score)
  • 10 are pilot questions
  • two question types:
    1. Choose the best word or group of words to insert in the blank
    2. Answer a question about the text
  • maximum of 90 minutes to complete the test
  • administered online (paper version available only under exceptional circumstances)
  • available in multiple formats if you require assessment accommodation

Test of Written Expression

Level A

Ability to write very limited units of information

A person writing at this level can:

  • write isolated words, phrases, simple statements or questions on very familiar topics using words of time, place or person

Score: 20 to 30

Level B

Ability to write short descriptive or factual texts

A person writing at this level can:

  • write with sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary to deal with explicit information on work-related topics

Score: 31 to 42

Level C

Ability to write explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations

A person writing at this level can:

  • write texts in which the ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner in which vocabulary, grammar and spelling are generally appropriate and require few corrections

Score: 43 to 51

*An exemption (“E”) from further second language reading comprehension testing will be granted to persons who obtain a score of 52 to 55

**An “X” is the result for those below level “A” who obtain a score of 0 to 19

Format:

Made up of a variety of texts, for example:

  • emails
  • notes/memos
  • letters
  • information bulletins
  • excerpts from reports
  • research papers

Assesses knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of written expression that are necessary to perform writing tasks dealing with work-related situations:

  • 65 multiple-choice questions (only 55 count towards your score)
  • 10 are pilot questions
  • two question types:
    1. Fill in the blank
    2. Error identification
  • maximum of 90 minutes to complete the test
  • administered online (paper version available only under exceptional circumstances)
  • available in multiple formats if you require assessment accommodation

Test of Oral Proficiency

Level A

Understands most speech that deals with concrete and routine topics and is delivered slowly and clearly in standard speech

A person speaking at this level can:

  • make themselves understood in short contributions, even though pauses and false starts are very evident
  • talk about everyday aspects of routine activities
  • handle a simple question-and-answer exchange

Level B

Understands the main points of clear standard speech that deals with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give a simple description of a concrete topic
  • explain main points comprehensibly
  • compare and discuss alternatives when complications arise
  • speak with some spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches

Level C

Understands linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics
  • summarize a discussion
  • express and sustain opinions
  • respond to complex and hypothetical questions

*“E”: Exemption from further testing because performance contains no major weaknesses. Can handle most situations in the second official language with excellent control of the language and a high degree of ease

**“X”: Performance does not meet the minimum requirements for Level A

Format:

  • includes language activities about work-related topics
  • gets progressively more difficult
  • administered by telephone or face-to-face
  • lasts anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes
  • divided into four parts

Part 1: Questions and answers about work or other familiar activities

  1. You answer brief questions about your work or other familiar activities (e.g., studies or volunteer activities, if you are not currently employed) for which short, factual responses are expected.
  2. Duration: Two to six minutes.

Part 2: Listening and speaking in response to short audio recordings

  1. You listen to two short voice-mail messages (10 to 15 seconds each) and two short work-related conversations (30 to 35 seconds each) twice.
  2. Afterwards, you are asked to identify the reason for the call, what needs to be done or what help is being offered.
  3. Duration: Approximately seven minutes.

Part 3: Talk with follow-up questions

  1. The assessor proposes three topics for the talk.
  2. You choose one topic and have a minute and a half to prepare for your talk.
  3. Your talk should last approximately two to three minutes.
  4. After your talk, you will be asked to answer follow-up questions.
  5. Duration: 10 to 12 minutes.

Part 4: Listening and speaking in response to a longer audio recording

  1. You listen to a two-minute recording of a work-related conversation between two people at a meeting twice.
  2. Afterwards, you are asked to provide a brief summary of its content and answer related questions.
  3. Duration: 11 to 13 minutes.

As you progress through the test, the assessor will inform you of the different phases.

Based on the degree of proficiency you demonstrate during the test, the assessor will determine whether you have completed two, three or all four parts.

The assessment is not based on a point system (e.g., candidates do not lose points for each grammar mistake), but on your overall ability to communicate and deliver a clear message in your second language.

Source: Public Service Commission of Canada
For more information on the Public Service Commission (PSC) Second Language Evaluation, visit the PSC Website.

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