With nearly 9,000 international students from 136 different countries, ASU is known for being one of the top universities for international students. Through a new partnership between ASU Global Launch and EduSynch, applying to ASU may become more accessible to these students.
One of the requirements for applying to ASU as an international student is to take an English proficiency exam, like the TOEFL or IELTS, that tests students on their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
Because the partnership provides access to ASU Global Launch's English placement exam for incoming students and two final exams for ASU's fully-online English language immersion program, international students now have the option to fulfill their English proficiency requirement online instead of in person.
The partnership between Global Launch, ASU's English language training program, and EduSynch, an online testing platform, has launched four online exams since August and plans to offer two more exams by mid-November.
According to Dianna Lippincott, assistant director of strategic innovation at Global Launch, the partnership will provide flexibility for international students who otherwise would have needed to come to the U.S. ahead of time to complete admissions exams in person.
“This (coming to the U.S. ahead of time) isn’t really the most convenient thing for them and, you know, they get here, they’re in a new country, they don’t know anyone,” Lippincott said.
With the flexibility of taking the test at any time and in their home country online, students won't need to adjust to being in the U.S. before taking the test.
Rachel Bricker, program manager for the Intensive English Program at Global Launch, said jet lag and adjustment to a new environment can take some time for students, which could have an impact on their test results.
“All these cultural transitions that you go through when you are first in a country can really affect their scoring,” Bricker said. “When they're able to take that test in their home country in a natural environment where they are comfortable, then it’s a lot more convenient.”
Lippincott said another reason ASU is working with EduSynch is to provide online testing to international students who are interested in becoming teaching assistants.
“We test them to make sure that they have English proficiency in order to communicate in the classroom,” Lippincott said.
She said having the exam available online allows international students to take their International Teaching Assistant exam in their home countries so they are sure they are fully qualified for the program before committing financially.
Loretta Doemland, International Teaching Assistant coordinator at Global Launch, said the exam for teaching assistants consists of four questions that test students' knowledge of English.
“We feel really comfortable that it is monitored,” Doemland said. "I think (the students) appreciate being able to do it at the time that's available to them."
EduSynch can provide an advantage over Canvas and other proctoring services like Respondus Lockdown Browser because it can be challenging to record the speaking portion of English exams using these services.
Bricker said Global Launch needed a platform that would support the speaking component specifically.
“We need a platform if we’re testing them before they’re students and we also need something that will work universally around the globe,” Bricker said.
Using EduSynch will be an easier way to collect speaking and writing samples, too, Bricker said.
“We need to have those results usable for our faculty to be rating them, and then make a decision about where their best placement is,” Bricker said.
With COVID-19 limiting travel, the partnership ensures that it is easier to take exams at students' own convenience, but Lippincott said Global Launch's partnership with EduSynch happened independently of the pandemic.
“All of these were things that we were already planning on doing,” Lippincott said. “We were just looking for the right partner to implement.”