Versant tests are popular automatically scored English assessments. They allow test takers to prove their English proficiency and demonstrate that they’re capable of using English at work.
If you’re applying for a job or trying to get into a school language program, you may be preparing to take a Versant test right now! But how do you make sure you succeed at it?
Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for your Versant test.
What types of Versant tests are there?
There are four different types of English tests in the Versant suite. Each is designed with the purpose of testing English language proficiency. However, they’re slightly different in structure and the skills they test. As a result, they are used by companies or educational institutions with different goals.
Here are the five types of Versant tests:
- Versant English Test: a short, 17-minute test that focuses on speaking skills. Companies that primarily use spoken English use this test to assess candidates’ ability to communicate in English. For example, it’s popular with call centers.
- Versant Writing Test: a 35-minute writing test. It’s the ideal test for companies that use English primarily in writing. It evaluates writing skills through practical exercises like taking notes and writing emails.
- Versant English Placement Test: a thorough, 50-minute test that evaluates all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Academic institutions use this formative assessment to sort students into language programs.
- Versant 4 Skills Essential: a shorter, 30-minute test that evaluates all four language skills. Companies often use it to find candidates with well-rounded English skills because it helps them fill entry-level positions quickly.
- Versant Professional English Test: a comprehensive 60-minute test that evaluates all four skills. Companies use this test to baseline skills, measure progress and prove employees’ proficiency, oftentimes at the end of a business English training course.
Which Versant test should you take?
Which Versant test you take will depend on what your goals are. Have a look at these examples:
- Arnaldo wants to study abroad for a year in Australia. He will most likely take the Versant English Placement Test to get into the university program of his choice.
- Arjun is applying for a job at a call center. His future employers will request that he take the Versant English Test to demonstrate how he communicates in English.
- Sofia’s aiming to become an email customer support specialist at an international retail firm. She’ll be asked to take the Versant Writing Test to prove her writing skills.
- Farrah is applying for an internship at a fast-scaling startup. So, she’ll need to take the Versant 4 Skills Essential Test.
- Last but not least, Samira is currently a mid-level manager at an insurance company and is enrolled in a course to upskill her communication skills. She’ll be asked to prove her English proficiency by taking the Versant Professional English Test.
Tips for preparing for your Versant test
No matter which Versant test you’re taking, there are things you can do to prepare. Here are 6 ways to make sure you get the best results.
1. Work on your intelligibility
Intelligibility refers to your ability to speak in a way that’s easy to understand for others. Even if you don’t speak flawlessly or have a native-like accent, your speech can still have a high intelligibility level. That is if you are able to express what you mean.
The Versant English Test has an intelligibility score. The system calculates it based on various speech factors like speed, clarity, pronunciation, and fluency. So, it’s important that you work on your intelligibility before tackling a Versant test.
Here are two exercises you can do to improve your intelligibility:
- Record your speech. Recording yourself talking for a minute or so lets you play it back, analyze your speech and identify parts of it that are hard to understand. Maybe you’re mispronouncing some words, talking too fast, or pausing too often. Try to practice talking about the same topic until your speech becomes easier to understand.
- Practice shadowing. Shadowing is a technique that brings together listening and speaking. Find a video of a proficient public speaker giving a speech on YouTube. Try to say the same words as the speaker at about the same time. Do this for about 30 seconds at a time. This will help you mimic the speaker’s speech, improving your intonation, pronunciation, and fluency.
If you can, enlist the help of an English teacher to help you work on your weaknesses, or find a friend who is a native English speaker and set up regular video chats.
2. Practice typing on your computer
Unless you’re taking the Versant English Test, which is a speaking-only test, you’ll be asked to prove your English writing skills. Since Versant tests are most often taken off-site, it’s likely that you’ll be taking it on your own computer at home. That’s why it’s a good idea to practice typing on your computer before your Versant test.
While Versant will not factor your typing into your English proficiency scores, the Versant Writing Test and Versant English Placement Test do include a separate typing speed and accuracy score. They’re provided as supplemental information for 3 reasons:
1. Since typing is a familiar task to most candidates, it is a comfortable introduction to the test.
2. It allows candidates to familiarize themselves with the keyboard.
3. If typing speed is below 12 words per minute, and/or accuracy is below 90%, then it is likely that this candidate’s written English proficiency was not properly measured due to poor typing skills. The test administrator should take this into account when interpreting test scores.
Bear in mind that all the exercises you need to complete are timed. So, if you want to make sure that you have enough time to type your answers correctly, it’s good to get a little practice. This way, you’ll be able to focus wholeheartedly on the content and structure of your sentences, not your typing.
To give you an example, the Versant English Placement Test has a dictation task, where you have to type sentences exactly as you hear them. It also has a passage reconstruction task, where you read a text, put it aside, and type what you remember from it. Then, there’s a summary and opinion task where you have to read a passage, summarize the author’s opinion, and give your own. These are all practical exercises that evaluate how well you’d perform in real-life situations at work. For example, taking notes at a meeting, writing emails, or putting together a presentation.
3. Listen to everyday spoken English
Another definitive characteristic of Versant is that it tests how well you can understand and use English in an everyday context. It does not test the technical or literary use of the language. So, to get into Versant, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in some everyday spoken English.
For example, you can watch videos of someone on YouTube talking directly to their audience in a casual way. Or, you can listen to a podcast that features a laid-back conversation between two people. And, if you can, don’t just listen but also practice talking about everyday topics. Ask a friend or a family member to chat with you in English about simple things like how your day was or what you had for dinner.
Tips for taking your Versant test
Preparation is key. But it’s also important to make sure that you take the test the correct way. Since Versant is a flexible test that can be completed online or offline and administered remotely, there are a few tricks to making sure you get the best out of it:
1. Choose your testing environment well
Take the test in a quiet room, with no background noise or people talking around you. Make sure that the space doesn’t have an echo. And, turn off your notifications so you won’t be disturbed by incoming phone calls or messages.
2. Make good-quality recordings
The best way to do speaking tests is by using a headset with a built-in microphone. Keep the microphone 3-5 cm from your mouth. Try not to touch or move it while answering questions.
3. Speak in a natural way
Try to speak at a normal conversational speed and volume. Just the way you would speak if you were talking to another person. Don’t raise your voice or speak too softly. Try not to speak too slowly or rush your answers. And, do not repeat your answers again and again.
Find out more about Versant tests
If you’d like to learn more about Versant tests, you can find information for test takers on our website.