Comparability of reading tasks in high-stakes English proficiency tests and university courses in Korea

Soohye Yeom, Lorena Llosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the increased popularity of English-medium instruction (EMI) in higher education, many East Asian universities are using international English proficiency tests to make admissions and placement decisions. Since these tests were not originally designed for the EMI contexts, validity evidence is needed to support the use of these tests in this new context. To interpret performance on a test as representative of performance in a target language use (TLU) domain, this study investigated (1) the characteristics of English reading tasks in Korean EMI undergraduate and graduate courses, (2) the extent to which they are comparable to the characteristics of reading tasks on TOEFL iBT and IELTS, and (3) the extent to which students perceive EMI reading tasks and the test reading tasks to be comparable. Fifty-four undergraduate and graduate students in EMI content courses at a Korean university completed an online questionnaire. Analyses revealed that EMI reading tasks share several characteristics with USA/UK university reading tasks. Although EMI reading tasks had some key characteristics in common with TOEFL and IELTS reading tasks, the test tasks were much more limited in range. Finally, the extent to which students perceived EMI reading tasks and TOEFL/IELTS reading tasks comparable varied across academic areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalLanguage Testing in Asia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Assessing reading
  • English-medium instruction (EMI)
  • Reading in higher education
  • Reading task characteristics
  • Test validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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