FAQ

FAQ

24 Aug 2020

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Why do we need a new test?

The widely known DTEC Test was first launched in 1992 under the former Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation (DTEC). Over the years, it has provided a reliable and transparent way to assess the linguistic ability of those who:

  • wanted to apply for scholarships, training and / or study visits overseas
  • applied for overseas postings
  • applied for specific government projects (e.g. High Performance Project and Potential Civil Servants Project)
  • were seeking promotion
  • wished to receive the English language pay increment
The DTEC test was developed in accordance with the knowledge of language testing available in the 1990s. However, as in all fields of study, research has since expanded that body of knowledge considerably. Therefore, to better reflect current thinking on assessment, the decision was taken to develop a new test to replace the DTEC test. The new test is known as the Devawongse Varopakarn Institute of Foreign Affairs Test of English Skills or DIFA TES.
Why did the Devawongse Varopakarn Institute of Foreign Affairs undertake the development of the new test?

As part of the bureaucratic reforms in 2002, the former Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation (DTEC) became part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and was renamed the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA). At the same time, the mandates of DVIFA and TICA were reviewed to avoid overlap in the services provided.

The mission of TICA has been to administer and implement Thailand's development cooperation programmes in developing countries. The DVIFA has focused on the training and testing of Thai and foreign government officials in diplomacy, foreign affairs, foreign languages and communication skills to facilitate their work in their respective countries. It prepares individuals from various agencies for postings overseas; and through the administration of the DTEC Test provides the information needed by TICA for the selection of overseas scholarship candidates. It is therefore the responsibility of DVIFA to undertake the development of the new DIFA TES.

Who developed the DIFA TES?
The development of the DIFA TES was carried out by an MFA based team of test developers with a full-time MFA based coordinator. The team was trained and supervised by an international testing expert through all stages of test development.
What are the main differences between the DTEC Test and the DIFA TES?

Firstly, the new DIFA TES targets four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) to better reflect current linguistic needs of the targeted test population. All test takers must take the reading and listening components of the DIFA TES; eligibility for the writing and speaking components is dependent on performance on the reading and listening tests.

Skills

DTEC Test

DIFA TES

          Reading

          Listening

          Writing

 

         Speaking

 

Secondly, authentic texts and soundfiles are used in the reading and listening components of the DIFA TES.

Thirdly, new test methods have been introduced in the reading and listening tests. These include:

  • Matching (reading and listening)
  • Short Answers (reading and listening)
  • True/False and Justification (reading only)

Fourthly, the assessment of language in use (knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and syntax) is no longer tested explicitly but as part of the reading and listening tests. This area of language knowledge is also tested in the writing and speaking components.

Test takers are advised to look at the sample tasks provided on the website in order to familiarise themselves with the new test methods and to study the writing and speaking scales to understand how their performances will be assessed.
How much does the DIFA TES cost?

Test

Fee in baht

     Reading and Listening

1,500

     Writing

1,500

     Speaking

1,500

 

How long do the test results remain valid?
Test results remain valid for 2 years. This means that test takers do not have to wait until they are applying for a specific professional development activity but can take the DIFA TES at any of the scheduled test administrations and bank their results for use within the 2 year period. This will allow candidates to plan ahead.
Can candidates retake all or parts of the exam?

Retakes are possible for both the compulsory (reading and listening) and optional (writing and speaking) modules of the test.

Compulsory Tests
The reading and listening tests are compulsory for all test takers and are taken on the same day. After taking the tests:

  • if the test taker is satisfied with their performance in terms of the CEFR level they have been awarded, they can keep both the test scores
  • if the test taker does not achieve the desired level of performance on either of these tests, they must wait 6 months to re-take both the tests

Optional Tests
Only test takers who score B2 level in both the reading and listening tests will be invited to take the writing and speaking tests. These tests are optional. The test taker may choose to do both, only one or neither of the tests.
After taking one or both of the tests:

  • if the test taker takes one or both tests and is satisfied with their performance in terms of the CEFR level they have been awarded, they can keep the test score(s)
  • if the test taker takes one or both tests but does not achieve the desired level of performance on either of the tests, they can retake the test(s) after 6 months
How do we know the test provides valid and reliable test scores?

All the test materials were trialled on volunteers from a range of different ministries and agencies. Data on every item and task was collected and analysed. Based on these trial results, the tasks were:

    1. banked for future use
    2. revised for future trials
    3. dropped
In the case of the reading and listening tests, it was possible to carry out a comparability study between test takers’ performances on the DTEC Test and the DIFA TES as both tests had components that focused on the receptive skills. The comparability study findings confirmed that there were no significant differences in the test takers’ performances.
How transparent was the process of test development?

Stakeholders from a wide range of ministries, agencies and organisations were invited to participate in stakeholder meetings throughout the task development stage. During these meetings, participants were provided with information about the:

    • procedures followed in the development of the tests
    • trial procedures used
    • validity and reliability estimates of the test scores

A total of four stakeholder meetings were organized, one for each of the four skills. Stakeholders had the opportunity to:

    • look at some sample tasks
    • examine test taker performances
    • ask questions
    • provide feedback