HLA Test Overview
The Holmes Language Assessment is a computer-based exam that takes place live with an examiner over Zoom. Designed to be utilised by tertiary education providers, the assessment focuses on ratingthe English language proficiency of candidates looking to apply to university in the United Kingdom, Australia, and around the world.
The Holmes Language Assessment (HLA) is an integrated skills assessment that assesses the candidate’s ability in the four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening—or a combination of skills.
The exam assesses authentic and academic English language skills that help to prepare the candidates for life at university. These tasks take place one to one with a highly qualified interlocutor who holds a native accent.
The HLA is a highly accurate assessment that is assessed blind by both the interlocutor and a second assessor, ensuring impartiality and accuracy. Results are normally available within five working days and assessments can normally be booked within as little as 24 hours.
The HLA aims to rate the English language competence of applicants to Holmes Institute programmes and other Higher Education and pathway programmes without requiring candidates to complete external testing.
The procedure is not designed to produce a fine-grained profile of the candidate’s language skills, but rather to enable raters to produce a working assessment of the candidate’s ability to follow courses otherwise requiring entry levels of IELTS 5.5—6.5 (CEFR B2—C1). This is achieved by requiring test-takers to complete a number of language tasks directly related to competences at CEFR B2/C1 and to be assessed by raters drawn from OHC’s senior teaching staff.
Stage 1 of the HLA is an assessment of the candidate’s speaking ability. There are two tasks, with the second task having two parts. Throughout these tasks candidates:
- Engage in conversation with the assessor.
- Produce a long turn, speaking for one to two minutes on a given subject.
- Engage in more academic discussion of a contemporary issue or topical subject.
Stage 2 of the HLA is an assessment of the candidate’s listening ability. There are two tasks,the second of which is an integrated skills assessment throughout which candidates:
- Listen to a monologue on an academic topic that does not require specialist knowledge to understand. Candidates are then asked to explain the general topic of the talk.
- Listen to the talk again and isolate the specific points raised both positive and negative then explain them in their own words to the assessor.
Stage 3 of the HLA is an assessment of the candidate’s reading ability. There are two tasks, the second of which is an integrated skills test of reading into writing. Throughout these tasks candidates:
- Read a text and match information to paragraphs.
- Read a short text on a contemporary issue or topical subject and write a summary of the reading text.
Stage 4 of the HLA is an assessment of the candidate’s writing ability which compromises of a single task where candidates:
- Write a short essay.