Test of Academic English


The Test of Academic English (TAE) is a computer-delivered test of academic English designed and developed for use at the University of Macau. The test has two purposes: (1) to place in-coming undergraduate and graduate students into courses offered at the English Language Center (ELC); (2) to monitor and diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of students during the semesters of study at the ELC.

The test was developed by Professors Antony J. KunnanCecilia Zhaoand Matthew Wallace, ELC senior instructors Miranda Ma and Alice Leethe LASeR Group members and Dr. Erik Voss who was an external consultant on the project. The LASeR group graduate students who worked on the project were Christine Liao, Laura Staniute, Kayla Chen, Doris Zhan, Don Yao, Olive Qin, Emma Dong, Coral Qin and Fiona Yang.

The main principles for the design and developed of the TAE included the following: situational and interactional authenticity (for listening, reading texts and writing and speaking tasks), independent skill tasks (listening, reading and writing and speaking separately) and integrated skill tasks (listening-speaking, listening-writing, and writing-reading), and scenario-based tasks based on academic and university life-based scenarios. In addition, as the test is computer-delivered, many tasks require watching audio and video clips, keying-in and typing answers, speaking into a microphone, answering questions using drop-down and drag and drop menus. The platform for the computer delivery was Moodle and several appropriate plug-ins.

A pre-pilot version of tasks and items of separate skill areas of the TAE was administered to three groups of ELC students. Two versions of the full TAE were used in piloting the test in April 2018: (1) computer-delivered and (2) paper-and-pencilContent and statistical analyses were conducted to understand the linguistic features of the tasks and test performance of the test takers. Coh-Metrix and SPSS software were used for these analyses. Information from these analyses was used to revise tasks and items that were found to be content- or construct-irrelevant, reducing reliability and contributing to unfairness.

The TAE will be administered to all undergraduates assigned to ELC courses in August 2018.

Test of Academic English

Paper-and-pencil Test

Sample Questions (Listening Section)

Directions: You will now hear a conversation. After the conversation, you will hear several questions. You will have 5 seconds for each question. You will hear the recording ONLY ONCE.
What problem did the student encounter?
    A. Cannot log in to the system
    B. Forgot the password
    C. Her ID is broken
    D. Limited Wi-Fi Connection
Which of the following is the solution to the problem?
    A. Go to the registry to apply for a Wi-Fi password
    B. Open a browser and log in
    C. Apply online to get a permanent account
    D. Send an email and an ID
Where is the conversation most likely taking place?
    A. The technology helpdesk
    B. The maintenance office
    C. The Treasury
    D. The Registry

Sample Questions (Reading Section)

Directions: Read the campus loop shuttle service announcement and answer the questions that follow.

Scenario: Kayla is a UM student. Her best friend Emma will come and visit her next week on Sunday.

Emma can take the campus loop shuttle bus around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday from the Postgraduate Houses Bus Stop to meet Kayla.
    A. True
    B. False
If Emma gets off at the Bus Terminal at UM, University Hall Bus Stop will be the nearest bus stop that she can go to.
    A. True
    B. False
Emma is going to meet Kayla at the University Hall. If Emma takes the bus from the Postgraduate Houses Bus Stop, which of the following bus stops will she pass by?
    A. Anthony Lau Building Bus Stop
    B. Faculty of Science and Technology Bus Stop
    C. Social Sciences Building Bus Stop
    D. Faculty of Law Bus Stop
Sample Questions (Reading Section)

Sample Questions (Writing Section)

Directions: Write an essay of around 150-200 words in response to the prompt given below.

Short reading: 

The issue of clean air has become such a massive international problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning saying that there is now a global ‘public health emergency.’ It is found that the elderly and young children are seriously affected by air pollution. Short-term health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, and allergic reaction. Some long-term health effects are lung cancer, brain damage, and heart disease, among other such diseases.

In addition, air pollution causes damage to crops, animals, forests, and bodies of water. It also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the sun’s rays. Another negative effect of air pollution is the formation of acid rain, which harms trees, soils, rivers, and wildlife. Some of the other environmental effects of air pollution are haze, and global climate change.

To cope with these problems, experts suggest that people should do the following to make the air cleaner:

  • Ride a bike or walk, rather than driving a car.
  • Reduce trips and use public transportation.
  • Turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.
  • Make use of solar energy.
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full.
  • Plant more trees.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Other solutions of local choice

(word count: 208 words)

Adapted from:

Air and Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.air-n-water.com/air-pollution.htm


Conserve Energy Future. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/41-super-easy-ways-to-stop-air-pollution.php

Sample Questions (Writing Section)

Computer-based Test

Under preparation…


Under revision…

Gallery (22 April, 2018)

TAE Project Staff

TAE Project Staff