The process of taking a high-stakes test stretches well beyond the day of the test itself; indeed, months may be spent preparing for such a test. Strategy research has proved to be a fruitful means of investigating the test-taking process, but it has typically relied on only one research approach at one contact point. This study explores three second language (L2) test takers' strategy use over time and across testing contexts, including classroom observations of their six-week test-preparation course, interviews, their verbal accounts of a practice test just before the test, and post-test follow-up interviews. The results suggest that strategy use is sensitive to both context and research method, that well-known theoretical frameworks may not adequately account for strategies arising directly from experience in test-preparation classes, and that test takers with similar levels of proficiency acquire and use strategies differently in relation to their motivations for taking the test.

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Keywords high-stakes tests, language assessment, multiple research methods, test preparation, test takers' strategy use
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.67.1.029
Journal Canadian Modern Language Review
Citation
Doe, C. (Christine), & Fox, J. (2011). Exploring the testing process: Three test takers' observed and reported strategy use over time and testing contexts. Canadian Modern Language Review, 67(1), 29–54. doi:10.3138/cmlr.67.1.029