Perceptions of IELTS in Cambodia: a case study of test impact in a small developing country

Stephen Moore, Richmond Stroupe, Paul Mahony

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report


    This study investigated the impact of the IELTS Test across different stakeholders in contemporary Cambodia. The major stakeholders included test-takers, examiners, learners, teachers, parents/guardians of test- takers, and local users of test results (eg, scholarship officers and employers). The study followed a mixed-methods approach in collecting data (including multiple methods and multiple sources) within an interpretive research paradigm (ie, in which qualitative approaches predominate). The overall project has been framed as a critical language testing (CLT) case study. The research was guided by 15 specific research questions. Among the main findings were: 1) the IELTS Test is the major gate-keeping mechanism for Cambodians to access the majority of scholarships available to them for overseas study; 2) the IELTS Test is generally trusted as an accurate measurement tool for academic English proficiency; 3) several different stakeholder groups indicated that IELTS was too Eurocentric and that Cambodian candidates had to acquire more 'world knowledge' in addition to developing their English language proficiency skills to achieve a satisfactory band score; 4) the IELTS Test was widely considered to be expensive for Cambodian test-takers. Overall, the IELTS Test in Cambodia was found to have a minor impact on education and society in Cambodia in general terms, but a significant impact on facilitating opportunities for Cambodians to pursue higher education overseas at English-medium institutions (especially for postgraduate studies). The full impact of IELTS's role in contributing to the decisions as to which Cambodians can (and cannot) pursue overseas study is ultimately unknowable but will, nevertheless, play out over the coming decades.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationMelbourne
    PublisherIDP : IELTS Australia
    Number of pages109
    ISBN (Print)9780987237804
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Access to education
    • Developing countries
    • Higher education
    • Language proficiency
    • Language tests
    • Non English speaking background
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)


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