Test-taking Strategies Used by Successful Iranian Male and Female University Entrance Exam EFL Applicants

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of English, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran


This study aimed at identifying the most frequent test-taking strategies used by successful Iranian male and female university entrance exam EFL applicants. To this end, 150 English major male and female freshman students who got admission to three reputable state universities of Isfahan, Shiraz, and Tehran were selected conveniently and purposively. The model used in this study was developed by Barati (2005) consisting of planning, monitoring, evaluation, and test-wiseness strategies. After selecting the participants, the modified questionnaire developed based on Barati’s test-taking strategy taxonomy was distributed among the participants. Based on the analysis of results, it was revealed that the EFL learners made frequent use of planning, monitoring, evaluation, and test-wiseness strategies, but only the level of use of planning and monitoring strategies reached statistical significance. Moreover, male and female EFL learners were only significantly different in their use of evaluation strategies, but in terms of using planning, monitoring, and test-wiseness strategies, males and females were not significantly different from one another. The findings of the study bear useful implications for EFL learners, teachers, materials designers, and test constructors.


Alderson, J. C. & Wall, D. (1993). Does washback exist? Applied Linguistics, 14(2), 115-129.
Barati, H. (2005). Test-taking strategies and the assessment of reading skills: an approach to construct validation. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Bristol. UK.
Block, E. L. (1992). See how they read: comprehension monitoring of L1 and L2 readers. TESOL Quarterly, 26(2), 119-143. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3587008
Cohen, A. D. (2007). On taking language tests: What the students report. Language Testing, 1(1), 70-81.
Cohen, A. D. (2010). Strategies in learning and using a second language. England: Addison Wesley.
Cowie, B., & Bell, B. (1999). A Model of Formative Assessment in Science Education. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 6(1), 101-116.https://doi.org/10.1080 /096959499930
Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kashkouli, Z., Barati, H., & Nejad Ansari (2015). An investigation into the test-taking strategies employed for a high-stake test: Implications for test validation. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 4(3), 61-72.
Kırmızı, Ö., & Kömeç, F. (2016). An Investigation of Performance-Based Assessment at High Schools. Üniversitepark Bülten, 5(1-2), 53-65. https://doi.org/10.22521/unibulletin.2016.51
Khoshsima, H, Saed, A., & Mousaei, F (2018). Exploring the Effect of Teaching Test-Taking Strategies on Intermediate Level Learners on Reading Section of Ielts; Learners’ Attitude in Focus. Advances in Language and Literary Studies. 9: 4-9.
Nikneshan, E., Barati, H. (2019). Test-taking Strategies and EFL Learners’ Performance on the Reading Sub-test of Iranian Universities PhD Entrance Exam. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 7 (27): 71-85.
Phakiti, A. (2003). “A closer look at the relationship of cognitive and metacognitive strategy use to EFL reading achievement test performance.” Language Testing, 20 (1): 26-56
Phakiti, A., 2008. Construct validation of Bachman and Palmer’s (1996) strategic competence model over time in EFL reading tests. Language Testing, 25(2): 237-249
Purpura, J. (1999). Strategy use and second language test performance: A structural equation modeling approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Relates to Language Proficiency and Learner Autonomy. International Journal of English Linguistics, 5(2): 21-35
Shohamy, E. (1993). The power of test: The impact of language testing on teaching and learning. NFLC Occasional Papers, ED 362-040.
Watanabe, Y. (1996). Does grammar translation come from the entrance examination? Preliminary findings from classroom-based research. Language Testing 13 (3), 318- 333.
Zoubir-Shaw, S., & Oxford, R. (1995). Gender differences in language learning strategy use in university-level introductory French classes: A pilot study employing a strategy questionnaire. In C.A. Klee (Ed.), Faces in a crowd: Individual learners in multisection programs (pp. 181-213). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.