Test Format & Components

The Writing Task

example 1 - writing task

The writing task consists of an essay on a given topic. The essay must be at least 25 lines long, written in academic style, with clear and well-reasoned presentation and discussion of an argument. An idea can be an opinion or a description of a phenomenon. The discussion should provide details and explanations, and present supporting arguments, proofs and conclusions. The structure of an academic text should reflect the way you develop the idea: the different parts of the essay should follow a logical progression, and the connections between various arguments should be clear. Precise, clear language and a consistent register are needed for good academic writing. It makes no difference what idea you choose to express as long as it is well reasoned, well supported and clearly worded. The author’s “personal voice” is reflected in the stance adopted, and expressive ability is reflected in the capacity to provide an in-depth explanation and to discuss the idea in a methodical and critical manner.

Academic writing, which is used for many high school subjects, is the form of writing customarily used for written exercises, tests, essays and research in institutions of higher education. The abilities that are tested in the writing task are thus similar to the writing and formulation skills necessary for academic studies.

Two raters independently evaluate each essay, taking into account that they are reading first drafts that were written under time constraints. Each rater evaluates the essay in terms of two dimensions: content and language. In evaluating content, raters examine the various arguments presented in terms of quality and complexity and the extent to which critical thinking is demonstrated in them. In evaluating language, raters consider wording, writing style and language level. These elements are the basis of good academic writing, and candidates who have not sufficiently mastered them will find it hard to present their ideas in writing.

Further information about the writing task can be found here: writing task in examples and explanations of test questions. A partial list of writing tasks that have appeared in previous tests can be found here.



example 2 - analogies

Questions of this type examine the ability to precisely define a connection or relationship between words or phrases. This ability is based on three important aspects of verbal reasoning: vocabulary, the ability to identify the relationship between two words or phrases, and the ability to identify a similar relationship in another set of words or phrases.

Understanding analogies is essential to the acquisition and comprehension of new subject matter. It enables learners to make connections between concepts, phenomena, principles and ideas that are new and the knowledge that they already possess. It also enables learners to compare and identify similarities and differences between two new pieces of information. Learners are thus able to deepen and extend their understanding and increase the likelihood that the acquired knowledge will be retained and available for recall when needed.

More information about analogies can be found here: analogies in examples and explanations.


Critical Reading and Inference Questions

example 3 - critical reading and inference

These include various types of questions: comprehension of short texts, inference (drawing a conclusion from the text, identifying which statement weakens a conclusion drawn in the text, and so forth), sentence completions and more.

Critical reading and inference questions examine the ability to read and understand complex material, to understand a statement’s internal logic, to understand and apply principles of logic, to compare different ideas and situations and to draw valid conclusions.

These questions are based on texts from a variety of sources, both academic and non-academic, and vary in style. In general, comprehension and inference questions are closely tied to types of thinking required in various disciplines. For example, the ability to comprehend complex claims, locate contradictions within them, or draw conclusions from them is needed in fields such as law, economics, psychology and international relations. Sentence completion questions assess comprehension at the sentence level, which is the basis for reading comprehension. Most sentence completion questions focus on the ability to understand the function of prepositions in the sentence and the relationship of various syntactic elements. These skills are the basis for understanding complex texts which are often encountered in academic studies.

More information about comprehension and inference questions can be found here: critical reading and inference questions in examples and explanations.


Text Comprehension Questions

example 4 - text comprehension

Reading comprehension questions assess the ability to comprehend texts in a variety of fields: psychology, biology, history, philosophy and others. The questions focus on understanding the content and making connections between the ideas and arguments presented. These skills are based not only on vocabulary but also on the ability to understand the meaning of words in context, extract relevant information from the text, understand the syntactic relations between parts of the text (for example, by understanding the functions of conjunctions and prepositions) and make logical connections between pieces of information appearing in different parts of the text. The abilities tested by this type of question are needed to understand and analyze textbook material and academic articles.

More information about reading comprehension questions can be found here: text comprehension questions in examples and explanations.


Why other abilities are not assessed in the Verbal Reasoning sections

There are many different skills associated with verbal reasoning, not all of which are assessed in the Verbal Reasoning section of the test. Certain skills, such as spelling, are not tested, because they are not the most relevant to academic studies; others, such as listening comprehension, are not tested, because they are difficult to assess.