IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Supporting high-stakes language assessment: What does IELTS research and validation involve?

06 February 2024, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Students sit for exams at the desks in the classroom. Image: mnirat / Adobe Stock.

Join this event to hear Tony Clark, Head of IELTS Research at Cambridge University Press & Assessment, discuss the role of research and validation in supporting the sophisticated and advanced IELTS testing infrastructure.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Effrosyni Argyri


G03 Lecture Theatre
26 Bedford Way

IELTS is now taken by over four million test-takers a year globally, balancing longstanding assessment principles with real-world conditions related to international mobility in the 21st century. Supporting this large number of candidates requires a sophisticated and advanced testing infrastructure, capable of providing access across a variety of delivery modes in a secure format. 

This presentation outlines the role of research and validation underpinning this extensive operation from an institutional perspective, highlighting the theoretical and practical considerations as part of Cambridge’s remit to engage in a range of key functions. Emergence of digital technologies, the changing world of education – and how we communicate with each other – have arguably made assessment research more important than ever before. 

Consequently, research activities include increased stakeholder recognition work, providing validation evidence to support existing test use or innovations, exploring task types and construct-related issues, investigating delivery modes, malpractice detection, and reshaping the IELTS funded research programme. The VRIPQ model (Validity, Reliability, Impact, Practicality and Quality) continues to act as a mainstay for this work, cognisant of the evolving testing landscape and the requirement for language assessment research to keep pace. 

Additionally, the important role the cross-partner IELTS Research Group (IRG) now plays alongside these activities is described, adding further research capabilities to support key functions as IELTS expands its global operation. Current IRG projects on One-skill Retakes and a higher education impact study highlight the importance of research to support fairness for candidates, and ultimately help them achieve their learning goals. 

This in-person event is part of a seminar series hosted by the Centre for Applied Linguistics.

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About the Speaker

Tony Clark

Head of IELTS Research at Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Tony Clark is Head of IELTS Research at Cambridge University Press & Assessment. His areas of research interest include test preparation, multimodality, diagnostic assessment and high-stakes university admissions tests. He has published in several major language assessment and applied linguistics journals, regularly presents at international conferences, and is an active member of the academic community, serving on the UKALTA Executive Committee.