Predicting international students’ clinical and academic grades using two language tests (IELTS and C-test): A correlational research study

Amanda Muller, Michael Daller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Academic English tests are used to ascertain if international English as a Second Language nursing students have sufficient language skills to commence their nursing degrees, and later, if they have sufficient English for nursing registration. However, an academic English test may not be appropriate for clinical contexts. This study examines the relationship between two types of English test and the performance of forty-nine undergraduate international nursing students in both their first year of theory-centred academic topics and practice-centred clinical topics. An academic English test, called the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and a general English proficiency/processing speed test using a variation of the cloze-test (C-test) format were administered at the commencement of the students’ course of study. At the end of one year, grade percentages were collected. It was found that both the IELTS test and the C-test were significantly correlated to both types of topic, albeit with different patterns. The two English tests were also tested for similarities in the constructs they measured, with a significant overlap found. The implications are to rethink the way English tests are applied to entry in university degrees involving a clinical component and, by extension, to direct universities to rethink how nursing students are supported during their degree. The question is also raised about the practice of using academic English tests for professional nursing registration purposes. The benefits of the two testing approaches are also considered, particularly the large differences in monetary outlay and time found between the two tests, given their performance in explaining the variance in grade outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Educational assessment
  • English as a second language
  • Linguistics
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing students


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