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Title: Test preparation and identity: Cases of Korean test takers preparing tests of English speaking proficiency
Authors: Kim, Nahee
Supervisors: Fulcher, Glenn
Norton, Julie
Award date: 10-Jun-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: With the rapid growth in high-stakes testing in recent decades, we have witnessed the phenomenon of large groups of test takers investing increasing amounts of time, resources and energy on test preparation. Their goal is to achieve scores that will enable them to make life defining choices. For many of them, I have discovered that test preparation requires engaging in pressurised practice to achieve a high score rather than engaging in meaningful learning. This research has found the test preparation experience to be a critical experience that impacts on an individual’s life. Until now, we have not known why and how learners prepare to take tests, nor how they construct their identities as test takers, or are constructed by the test preparation. One objective of this study is therefore to examine Korean test takers’ preparation practices for English-speaking proficiency tests from the test takers’ perspectives. The second major objective is to examine how the act of test preparation affects test takers’ identity. The qualitative methodology adopted to investigate these issues included interviews with test takers and observation of test preparation classes in Korea. The data were analysed using coding and thematic categorisation. It was found that test takers tended to study in cram schools, and that preparation was dependent upon instructors and the test for which they were preparing. The study revealed a complex situation with regard to identity construction, related to: (1) personal goal and test preparation choice, (2) English mediated identity in speaking activities and (3) self-conflicts over time. It is suggested that the impact of test preparation on a test taker’s identity may be devaluation of a sense of self. The implications of the study are to raise awareness of the importance of links between test preparation and identity in the field of language testing and teaching.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Education
Leicester Theses

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