The purpose of the Assessment Research Grants is to contribute, together with internal British Council research activities, to the validation of Aptis.

The research agenda upon which the grants are premised is based on the modified socio-cognitive validation framework (Weir, 2005; O’Sullivan & Weir, 2011) and will build a significant body of substantive evidence of the validity of Aptis. The use of alternative validation frameworks that also contribute evidence of the validity of Aptis will also be considered.

The grants will support projects directly focused on Aptis. Projects which are more exploratory in nature and utilise instruments other than Aptis will be considered provided the proposer can demonstrate the potential impact of their research on Aptis.

Projects will be for a period of one year.

Who can apply?

Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects of relevance to Aptis. In order to foster our relationship with clients, we will also encourage applications from test users interested in understanding how the test impacts on their institution. Please note that regardless of the geographical location of applications and regardless of where the actual research will take place, all contracts for research projects issued by the British Council are subject to the laws of England and Wales; this is non-negotiable.

Financial support

The maximum financial support for individual projects will, in principle, be limited to a maximum of £17,500, although it is expected that projects requesting financial support in the region of £10,000 to £15,000 will be most positively considered.

Applications for extensive travel or large items of equipment will not be supported. N.B. Applications should NOT at this stage include requests for funding for conference presentations; if completion of the research project results in acceptance of a paper at an international conference, the British Council will consider supporting the attendance of one of the authors through a separate application.

Areas of interest for 2018

The research grants support researchers around the world in conducting and disseminating the highest quality research. The areas of particular interest to the British Council in 2018 include:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

We welcome proposals dealing with any aspects of EDI, including test-takers with specific disabilities, in relation to Aptis General or any of the Aptis variants, either in full or relating to a particular skill or combination of skills

English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI)

We welcome proposals using Aptis General, Aptis for Teens and Aptis Advanced in relation to assessment of language for studies in an EMI environment.

Assessing higher proficiency levels

We welcome proposals using Aptis Advanced and Aptis General to assess test-takers at CEFR B2 level and above.

Automated assessment of writing and/or speaking

We welcome proposals dealing with any aspect of automated assessment of writing and/or speaking.

Broader assessment issues

Consideration will also be given to other issues of current interest from the area of Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition in relation to language assessment.

Grant recipients


Sathena Chan, Daniel Lam and Tony Green (CRELLA, University of Bedfordshire) for their project which will Investigate the textual features and revising processes of EFL and L1 English writers in China in Aptis for Teens Writing Task 4.

Nivja de Jong and Jos Pacilly (Leiden University Centre of Linguistics, Leiden University, Holland) for their project which will look at new techniques to measure fluency in speech automatically.

Ute Knoch and Catherine Elder (University of Melbourne, Australia) for their project to investigate the discourse produced at score levels B2.2 to C2 on the Aptis Advanced Writing Test.

Judit Kormos (Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University) for her project which will explore time-extension and the second language reading performance of children with different first language literacy profiles.


Trisevgeni Liontou (University of Athens) for her study which will apply automated analyses techniques to investigate discourse features in the Aptis for Teens Writing test: Evidence from lower secondary EFL students.

Nathaniel Owen (Open University) for Exploring rater behaviour with test-taker responses in Aptis Writing.

Okim Kang (Northern Arizona University) for her study on linguistic features and automatic scoring of Aptis speaking performances.

Carol Spöttl, Eva Konrad, Franz Holzknecht & Matthias Zehentner (Language Testing Research Group, University of Innsbruck) for their project on assessing writing at lower levels: research findings, task development locally and internationally, and the opportunities presented by the extended CEFR descriptors.

Azlin Zaiti Zainal , Ng Lee Luan & Tony Green (Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya)for their study which looks into the impact of the ProELT 1 training programme and Aptis on Malaysian English teachers’ classroom practice.