Task Type and Prompt Effect on Test Performance: A Focus on IELTS Academic Writing Tasks

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Shiraz University

2 Islamic Azad University of Hashtgerd


Recent versions of international high-stakes tests like TOEFL and IELTS have made use of integrated tasks in addition to the traditional independent tasks in a claim to provide a more realistic estimation of the test takers’ language abilities. The present study aimed to investigate how test takers’ performance may differ on such tasks. As such, the test takers’ performance was compared on IELTS Academic Writing Tasks 1 and 2. Whereas Task 1 is an integrated task which calls for graphic interpretation and description, Task 2 is an independent task of writing an argumentative essay. Furthermore, the study also aimed to investigate the effect of writing prompts on the test takers’ performance on such tasks. The study adopted a quasi-experimental design in the form of posttest-only group. Fifty six Iranian EFL learners at Shiraz University were selected based on their availability. After receiving instruction in a semester on how to do the two tasks, they received 4 writing tasks (2 versions of each task with different prompts). The data collected were analyzed through two-way repeated-measures ANOVA. The results indicated that task type did not have a significant effect on the test takers’ writing performance; that is, there were no significant differences between the participants’ performance on the independent and integrated writing tasks. Furthermore, the effect of prompts was only found to be significant on the participants’ performance on task 2 (independent task). The findings provide evidence for higher consistency of scores obtained from different versions of the integrated task.


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