I’ve used the Cambridge BULATS test many times and I’m often surprised at its relative low profile. For me, the test ticks all of the boxes needed for Business English evaluations along with other useful features.
I first came across BULATS back in 2003. At the time, I was becoming fed up at the way that Language Schools and organisations were manipulating students by offering tests that were either incompatible with other tests or were designed to benefit the school rather than the student. A school that I worked at offered free placement tests that evaluated students on a scale of one to eight. Why an eight point scale? It was pure marketing. Students (or all the in-company learners at firms that fell for the gimmick) would only be able to track their progress by doing follow up tests using the same scale. Consequently, they became locked in to that school’s teaching program, in some cases year after year.
Then along came BULATS, a test that gave results on a scale of one to a hundred, clearly linked to ALTE/CEF international scales, a test that used everyday business language, a test that was thoroughly researched and even offered specific margins of error that conformed to international standards such as ISO.
Since then, I’ve used the test hundreds of times, as a placement test, as a summative test and on occasion to help HR departments decide if individuals had reached their annual objectives.
BULATS has always been available in four languages (English, French German and Spanish) and on occasion I’ve been able to use this feature. For example, in France I used BULATS to evaluate French employees in English and employees from overseas in French. However I’ve often wondered if this was more of a selling point than a genuinely useful feature and I’m not surprised that Cambridge English has decided to make BULATS an English-only test from 2017 onwards.
Well, as you can see I’m a fan of BULATS and I’m sure there will be other articles to come about this test.
Do you have a favourite test? And if you do, what makes it special to you? Feel free to comment!