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MET

The Michigan English Test (MET) is a standardized high-beginner to low-advanced English as a foreign language (EFL) examination. The MET is used to measure general English language proficiency in social, educational, and workplace contexts, and is recognized as official documentary evidence of English ability in several countries around the world.

The MET is regularly updated to ensure that the examination reflects current research in language teaching and assessment and also continues to provide test takers with a test that helps them to demonstrate their language proficiency.

Test Description

The MET is a standardized English as a foreign language (EFL) examination, aimed at upper beginner to lower advanced levels—A2 to C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It is administered several times per year at authorized test centers. New test forms are developed for each administration.

Test Purpose

The MET can be used for educational purposes, such as when finishing an English language course, or for employment purposes, like applying for a job or pursuing promotion that requires an English language qualification. The MET is not an admissions test for students applying to universities and colleges in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. Those interested in such a test should consider the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) offered by CaMLA.

Typical Test Taker

The MET is intended for adults and adolescents at or above a secondary level of education who want to measure their general English language proficiency in a variety of linguistic contexts.

Test Content

Stimuli in the MET reflect a range of situations likely to be met in most countries. The CEFR[1] identifies four basic domains, namely personal, public, occupational, and educational (Council of Europe, 2001: 48–49). The MET contains content from all four domains.

Public public spaces (street, shops, restaurants, sports, or entertainment venues) and other social networks outside the home
Occupational workplace settings (offices, workshops, conferences), etc.
Educational schools, colleges, classrooms, residence halls, etc.

Various topics are used across the domains, some of which may be used more in certain domains than others. Test takers should require no specialized knowledge or experience to understand the content. Topics should be equally accessible to a range of ages and should represent a variety of opinions.

A concerted effort is made to make sure topical content in the MET is not biased. Hambleton and Rodgers[2] (1995, para. 1) define bias as “the presence of some characteristic of an item that results in differential performance for two individuals of the same ability but from different ethnic, sex, cultural, or religious groups.” They further note that another characteristic related to bias is offensiveness, which can obstruct the purpose of a test item. They explain that “while the presence of such material may not make the item more difficult for the test taker, it may cause him or her to become ‘turned off,’ and result in lowered performance.” Consequently, MET material is scrutinized to ensure that it is not inflammatory, emotionally upsetting, or controversial. This is meant to decrease the potential for bias.

Score Reporting

Each test taker receives a CaMLA score report. The report will include the test-taker details and the scaled score for each section of the test, as well as a final score. Test takers will receive their score reports from their test center within four weeks of the date the tests arrive at CaMLA for scoring. Sections I and II are scored by computer, while certified CaMLA raters score the speaking and writing tests.

The MET does not have a pass score. Instead, all test takers receive a scaled score with a maximum of 80 for each section attempted, and a final score for all sections. The scaled scores are not percentages. They do not show how many items the test taker answered correctly but rather where he/she stands on the language ability scale. This ensures that test scores are comparable across different administrations and fair to all test takers regardless of when they took the test.

The MET is a multi-level exam, covering a range of proficiency levels from upper beginner to lower advanced. The levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) aimed at by the MET are A2 to C1, with emphasis on the middle of the range (B1 and B2). The exact cut scores between adjacent CEFR levels, based on research conducted by CaMLA are available for download; selected CEFR performance descriptors illustrate what test takers should be able to do at each level. It is important to note that the score ranges for the CEFR levels are provided for each section but not for the final score because it is possible for a test taker to be at a higher language proficiency level in one language skill than in another. Therefore, all section scores should be taken into account when interpreting the test results for use in decision-making.

MET scores represent a test taker’s English language proficiency at the time the test was taken and are valid as long as the test taker’s level of proficiency does not change. Because language proficiency can increase or decrease over time, score users are advised to consider the test taker’s experience with English since the time of the test administration as well as the test scores themselves.


[1]   Hambleton, R. K., & Rodgers, J. H. (1995). Item bias review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 4(6). Available here.

[2]   Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available here.


Format and Administration

The MET is a paper-and-pencil test with 135 multiple-choice questions in two sections: Section I: Listening and Section II: Reading and Grammar. There are also optional Speaking and Writing Tests. The total exam time for the multiple-choice portion of the test (Sections I and II) is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, with an additional 15 minutes allotted for administrative preparation. The optional Speaking Test takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and the Writing Test is 45 minutes.

Listening Section

Section I: Listening has been designed to assess the comprehension of aural English at the upper beginner to lower advanced levels: A2 to C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Vocabulary is also assessed within Section I: Listening.

The descriptors for these CEFR levels are as follows:

A2: Can understand and extract the essential information from short, recorded passages dealing with predictable everyday matters that are delivered slowly and clearly. Can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g., very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment).

B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc., including short narratives. Can follow a lecture or talk within his/her own field, provided the subject matter is familiar and the presentation straightforward and clearly structured.

B2: Can understand recordings in standard dialect likely to be encountered in social, professional or academic life and identify speaker viewpoints and attitudes as well as the information content. Can follow the essentials of lectures, talks, and reports and other forms of academic/professional presentation that are propositionally and linguistically complex.

C1: Can follow most lectures, discussions, and debates with relative ease.

(adapted from Council of Europe, 2001)

Format of the Listening Section

Type of Task

Section I: Listening comprises 60 items in three parts:

Part 1 In Part 1, the test taker will hear short conversations between two people. After each conversation, the test taker will then answer a question about it. Approx. 20 items total
Part 2 In Part 2, the test taker hears longer conversations between two people. Following each conversation, the test taker will answer some questions about it. Approx. 20 items total
Part 3 In Part 3, the test taker will hear some short talks. After each talk, the test taker will then answer some questions about it. Approx. 20 items total

Duration

The entire listening section lasts about 45 minutes.

MET Listening Subskills

The abilities that L2 listeners access when focusing on specific listening purposes are referred to as (listening) subskills. These form three subgroups of listening skills— global, local, and inferential—and include (among others):

Global
  • understanding main idea
  • identifying speaker’s purpose
  • synthesizing ideas from different parts of the stimulus
Local
  • identifying supporting detail
  • understanding vocabulary
  • synthesizing details
  • recognizing restatement
Inferential
  • understanding rhetorical function
  • making an inference
  • inferring supporting detail
  • understanding pragmatic implications

Format of the Input

Part 1
The aural input for each item is a short conversation consisting of two speakers with 2 to 4 turns and lasting 15 to 25 seconds.

Listening Part 1 Example

Man: I’m a bit worried about the changes the new manager might make.

Woman: Well, we haven’t heard anything definite yet. Let’s just wait until we find out.

Man: I suppose you’re right.

Part 2
The aural input for this section is a longer conversation between two people, comprising 4 to 8 turns, and lasting from 40 seconds to 1 minute 15 seconds. There are multiple items based on each of these longer conversations.

Listening Part 2 Example

Narrator: Listen to a conversation between coworkers.

Man: I think I’ve been spending too much time using the computer. My wrists are killing me.

Woman:  That’s not good . . .

Man: No, not at all. And not just my wrists . . . my neck, my back . . .

Woman: Well, you need to take more breaks. I was just reading an article about repetitive motion problems . . . you need to stand up, walk around . . . every fifteen minutes or so.

Man: Yeah, no, you’re right. I don’t do that. I sit here for hours at a time . . .

Woman: Well, that’s gotta be at least part of the problem. And, uh, you know what? Looks like your computer monitor is too low. And let’s see . . . um, your chair might not be at the right height either. If I were you, I’d talk to Mike in the Health and Safety Office. He probably has information about how to make your workspace more comfortable.

Man: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Maybe I’ll take a break now and go talk to him.

Part 3
This section consists of short talks or monologues, which are between 200 to 250 words and last between 1 minute 25 seconds and 1 minute 45 seconds.

Listening Part 3 Example

Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.

M: Today, we’re going to discuss some recent research pertaining to the brain. It’s really shed some light on how we perceive color. In the study, researchers had infants and adults look for a flash of light in the shape of a circle—they would visually locate the light as it flashed against a similarly colored background.

Sometimes the light appeared on the right side of their field of vision. This side of vision transmits to the left side of the brain—the part where language is processed. Sometimes the light appeared on the left side of the field of vision. The left side of vision connects to the right side of the brain—the side that is prelinguistic. This side does not use language to process information.

Researchers tracked the infants’ eye movements and found that they did better when the light appeared on their left side. Adults did better when the light appeared on their right side. This suggests that the way adults see color is connected to their use of language, and that babies see colors with the nonlinguistic part of their brains. When and how this change occurs, and what these differences mean, is still unknown. But the study shows that babies and adults process color differently, and the difference may be related to language acquisition. This hypothesis is supported by what we already know about language and color: that various languages categorize and define colors differently. For example, Russian speakers define shades of blue that English speakers see as a single color.

Format of the Response Options

Part 1
Each conversation is heard once. The aural input is followed by one multiple-choice item with four options. The questions stems are printed in the test booklet, along with the options and are visible to the test taker while listening to the conversation. Test takers also hear each question stem and choose the best answer from the four choices printed in the booklet. Each answer choice is approximately the same length.

Part 2
Each conversation set is heard once. The aural input is followed by three or four multiple-choice items, each of which has four options. The questions stems are printed in the test booklet, along with the options and are visible to the test taker while listening to the conversation. Test takers also hear each question stem and choose the best answer from the four choices printed in the booklet. Each answer choice is approximately the same length.

Part 3
Each talk is heard once. The aural input is followed by three to five multiple-choice items, each of which has four options. The questions stems are printed in the test booklet, along with the options and are visible to the test taker while listening to the conversation. Test takers also hear each question stem and choose the best answer from the four choices printed in the booklet. Each answer choice is approximately the same length.

Evaluation of the MET Listening Section

Section I: Listening is scored automatically by computer. There is only one correct answer for each item. Correct answers receive one point. Incorrect answers receive zero.


Grammar Subsection

The MET grammar subsection has been designed to test a variety of grammar structures at the upper beginner to lower advanced levels.

The descriptors for these CEFR levels are as follows:

A2: Uses some simple structures correctly, but still systematically makes basic mistakes—for example, tends to mix up tenses and forget to mark agreement; nevertheless, it is usually clear what he/she is trying to say.

B1: Communicates with reasonable accuracy in familiar contexts; generally good control though with noticeable mother tongue influence. Errors occur, but it is clear what he/she is trying to express. Uses reasonably accurately a repertoire of frequently used “routines” and patterns associated with more predictable situations.

B2: Good grammatical control; occasional “slips” or nonsystematic errors and minor flaws in sentence structure may still occur, but they are rare and can often be corrected in retrospect. Shows a relatively high degree of grammatical control. Does not make mistakes which lead to misunderstanding.

C1: Consistently maintains a high degree of grammatical accuracy; errors are rare and difficult to spot.

(adapted from Council of Europe, 2001: 114)

Format of the Grammar Subsection

Type of Task

The MET grammar subsection is part of the larger reading and grammar section and includes grammar and reading items. There are 25 grammar items.

Duration

The entire Section II: Reading and Grammar lasts 90 minutes.

MET Grammar Subskills

MET grammar items focus on a variety of grammatical features observed in written American English. Depending on their proficiency level, it is assumed that test takers will demonstrate some or most of the grammar subskills outlined in the CEFR descriptors listed above.

Design of MET Grammar Items

Format of the Input

Each MET grammar item comprises 1 to 2 sentences from which a word or phrase has been removed. Each item can test one or more grammatical features (depending on the proficiency level the item is assessing).

Each MET grammar item should elicit a “tip-of-the-tongue” effect, in which test takers should ideally be able to mentally fill in the gap even before reading the options. The wording of MET grammar items is intended to reflect, as closely as possible, language use in real-life situations and provide a representative sample of different frequently observed genres in written English.

When you buy a car, there are many things to consider _______ just the price.

Format of the Response Options

Four answer choices are provided, one of which is the correct answer. All the incorrect options are grammatical in isolation from the input sentence.

Evaluation of the MET Grammar Subsection

The whole of Section II: Reading and Grammar (including the grammar items) is scored automatically by computer. There is only one correct answer for each item. Correct answers receive one point. Incorrect answers receive zero.


Reading Subsection

The MET reading subsection has been designed to assess the comprehension of a variety of written texts in social, educational, and workplace contexts. Vocabulary is also assessed within the reading subsection.

A2: Can understand short, simple texts on familiar matters of a concrete type, which consist of high frequency everyday or job-related language. Can understand short, simple texts containing the highest frequency vocabulary, including a proportion of shared international vocabulary items.

B1: Can read straightforward factual texts on subjects related to his/her field and interest with a satisfactory level of comprehension.

B2: Can read with a large degree of independence, adapting style and speed of reading to different texts and purposes, and using appropriate reference sources selectively. Has a broad active reading vocabulary, but may experience some difficulty with low frequency idioms.

C1: Can understand in detail lengthy, complex texts, whether or not they relate to his/her own area of specialty, provided he/she can re-read difficult sections.

(adapted from Council of Europe, 2001: 69)

Format of the Reading Subsection

Type of Task

The MET Reading subsection is part of the larger Section II: Reading and Grammar and includes four sets of passages followed by a total of 50 items. Each reading set contains three passages presented in three, thematically linked sections. Items test comprehension across one or more sections.

Duration

The entire Section II: Reading and Grammar lasts 90 minutes.

MET Reading Subskills

The abilities that L2 readers access when focusing on specific reading purposes are referred to as (reading) subskills. These form three subgroups of reading skills— global, local, and inferential—and include (among others):

Global
  • understanding main idea
  • identifying speaker’s purpose
  • synthesizing ideas from different parts of the text
Local
  • identifying supporting detail
  • understanding vocabulary
  • synthesizing details
  • recognizing restatement
Inferential
  • understanding rhetorical function
  • making an inference
  • inferring supporting detail
  • understanding pragmatic implications

Design of MET Reading Items

Format of the Input

Section A
A short message, announcement, advertisement, description, or other type of text typical of those found in newspapers, newsletters, etc. These are about 80 words long.

Section B
A short text, which may consist of a segment of a glossary, a memo, a letter to the editor, a resume, etc. These are about 160 words long.

Section C
A 3- to 5-paragraph text, which may consist of an academic article that includes argument, exposition, etc. It may be more abstract than texts in sections A and B. These are about 290 words long.

Cross-Text Items
Items that require test takers to synthesize information presented in the three texts.

Format of the Response Options

Each reading set is followed by 12 to 14 multiple-choice items. The items comprise a question and four options. Typically there are between two and five items per section. One or two questions test comprehension across more than one section.

Evaluation of the MET Reading Subsection

The whole of Section II: Reading and Grammar (including the reading items) is scored automatically by computer. There is only one correct answer for each item. Correct answers receive one point. Incorrect answers receive zero.


Speaking Test

The MET Speaking Test measures an individual’s ability to produce comprehensible speech in response to a range of tasks and topics. It is a structured, one-on-one interaction between examiner and test taker that includes five distinct tasks.

Duration

The MET Speaking Test is approximately 10 minutes in length.

Design of the MET Speaking Test

The tasks require test takers to convey information about a picture and about themselves, give a supported opinion, and state the advantages and disadvantages of a particular proposal.

The five tasks are designed to give test takers the opportunity to speak on a number of different topics.

  • Task 1: The test taker describes a picture.
  • Task 2: The test taker talks about a personal experience on a topic related to what is seen in the picture.
  • Task 3: The test taker gives a personal opinion about a topic related to the picture.
  • Task 4: The test taker is presented with a situation and will have to explain some advantages and disadvantages related to that situation.
  • Task 5:The test taker is asked to give an opinion on a new topic and to try to convince the examiner to agree with the idea.

Evaluation of the MET Speaking Test

Ratings will take into account the fluency, accuracy, and clarity of speech in addition to the ability to effectively complete each task. The final rating is based on answers to all five parts of the test.


Writing Test

The purpose of the MET writing test is to evaluate a test taker’s ability to write in English. It is designed to measure the writing proficiency of English language learners from upper beginner to lower advanced (A2 to C1).

Duration

The MET Writing Tests lasts 45 minutes.

Design of the MET Writing Test

In order to measure the writing proficiency of individuals at these differing levels of ability, the MET writing test requires test takers to produce written language at the sentence, paragraph, and essay levels.

Two tasks are included on each test.

In Task 1, the test taker is presented with three questions on a related theme. These three questions require test takers to respond with a series of sentences that connect ideas together. Task 1 is aimed at developing writers who can write at the sentence level but may struggle to produce more than a simple paragraph.

In Task 2, the test taker is presented with a single writing prompt. The task requires the test taker to produce a short essay. Task 2 is aimed at more proficient writers and evaluates the test taker’s ability to compose an essay that consists of several paragraphs.

Evaluation of the MET Writing Test

The test taker’s writing performance is evaluated by certified CaMLA raters. The five-band rating scale guides raters to attend to the test taker’s performance in the following areas:

  • Grammatical Accuracy
  • Vocabulary
  • Mechanics
  • Cohesion & Organization
  • Task Completion

The MET Writing Test Rating Scale and annotated essays are available as part of the online sample materials.


The MET tests a wide range of abilities and has quite an attractive price point!