Thursday, August 15, 2013

Some Facts about MUET or Malaysian University English Test / MUET FAQ

1. Malaysian University English Test or popularly known as MUET is a proficiency test designed and developed by the Malaysian Examinations Council.  It is NOT a competency test as claimed by certain quarters.  Competency  denotes a wider  ability of numerous skills mostly related to the working world. MUET on the other hand is just a specific proficiency test with an academic slant. Most of the materials used in MUET should be related to academic matters. The closest test that I could think of that can be compared to MUET is TEAP or TEST of English for Academic Purposes, a UK designed and developed test. Other proficiency tests such as TOEFL, TOEIC could not be compared to MUET as their approach to proficiency assessment is quite psychometric.

2. Since MUET is a proficiency test, it does not have to be studied or learned. You either have the proficiency or you don't. Students tend have this mistaken belief that MUET can be studied in order to score. However I believe  some improvement through studying is possible though not significant. MUET is actually a proficiency test. A proficiency test  does not have a syllabus.  Only achievements tests have syllabuses. An example of an achievement test is the SPM English. If you studied the syllabus you can really score in the test. That is why some students who memorized the syllabus and the words could do well in the exam. That is why you find weak students who tend to score in the SPM English paper. But MUET does have what the Examinations Council calls the Syllabus specifications (previously they used to called it a syllabus until it was pointed out by yours truly on the revised committee that it was wrong because of the nature of the test). I believe this is to help teachers and other educators some guidance on how to handle the test. If students cannot study the syllabus , what can they do ? My suggestion is to get experts to teach you some of the testing skills or test strategies. Research studies  have shown that students with the right strategies tend do well in the exam. It is possible to get Band 4 through strategies from Band 3.

3. There is No Pass or Fail in MUET. MUET is graded according to Bands 1 to 6. The highest is Band 6 and the lowest is Band 1. Most of the universities in Malaysia would prefer to take in students with a minimum of Band 3. For English intensive courses such as Law, Medicine, and TESL , most of faculties would require a minimum of Band 4. This is to ensure that their prospective students could sail through the programmes..This is not to say that students who obtained Band 1 are not allowed to to study in Malaysian universities. They can but they are normally offered courses in Islamic studies or the social sciences courses.

4. MUET is Not an Exit test. An Exit test is a test that  indicates the ability of students to function in the real world. An Exit test would normally require a needs analysis to ascertain its construct. The test will also take into account language matters related to the vocation  that the outgoing students would be able to fit in. Since MUET is not an exit test, it should not be used as a language indicator by prospective employers to determine the language ability of their prospective employees. As I mentioned earlier, the construct of MUET is the ability to function in the academic world. The sad thing is that most of the employers  in Malaysia used as an exit test. This is a total misuse of test.

5. Generally MUET is a good test. I think we Malaysians should be proud of this test. However, I feel that this test can still be improved upon further. The test should be validated by content and language  experts. The test can also be validated quantitatively using the internal validation process. I believe that some parts of the test have not been validated as I have not come across the data of their so called validation process locally or abroad. I hope the MES would take note of the importance of validation in a test. They should also publish the data of the validation process to convince the stakeholders that the MUET test is indeed a valid and reliable test. Without the validation process  the validity of the test is questionable. The status of the test  as a premier exam in Malaysian comes into question.

6. MUET does not have an Online version of the test. This is really sad. I think the CEO of Malaysian Examinations Council must urgently get experts locally and abroad to design the online version of the test. I feel that the online version would be cheaper to administer in the long run. TOEFL has many years already  the IBT version. So does UCLES. The Koreans too have joined the frays. What are we waiting for? Is the CEO of MES waiting for the minister;'s order? In the long run , the online version proves to be very economical. I believe the online test can still be a valid test despite some reservation about the construct of the test.

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