Barry O'Sullivan

Professor Barry O’Sullivan is the Head of Assessment Research & Development at the British Council where he was responsible for the design and development of the Aptis test service. He has undertaken research across many areas on language testing and assessment and its history and has worked on the development and refinement of the socio-cognitive model of test development and validation since 2000. He is particularly interested in the communication of test validation and in test localisation. He has presented his work at many conferences around the world, while almost 100 of his publications have appeared in a range of international journals, books and technical reports. He has worked on many test development and validation projects over the past 25 years and advises ministries and institutions on assessment policy and practice.

He is the founding president of the UK Association of Language Testing and Assessment (UKALTA) and holds honorary and visiting chairs at a number of universities globally. In 2016 he was awarded fellowship of the Academy of Social Science in the UK, and was elected to Fellowship of the Asian Association for Language Assessment in 2017.

Areas of Interest

  • Performance Testing
  • Assessing Language for Specific Purposes
  • Applying AI in Language Testing
  • History of Language Testing

Publications

  • Assessing English on the Global Stage The British Council and English Language Testing, 1941-2016 with Cyril Weir. Publisher: Equinox (2017)
  • The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Assessment 

    Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2012) 

  • Language Testing: Theories and Practices Publisher: Palgrave (2011)
  • Modelling Performance in Tests of Spoken Language Publisher: Peter Lang (2008)
  • Issues in Testing Business English: The Revision of the Cambridge Business English Certificates Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2006)

Papers published 2015-2018

  • O’Sullivan, B., Berry, V. & Dunn, K. in press.Test Preparation: an international comparison of test takers’ preferences. Assessment in Education, Special Edition.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2018). IELTS. In Christine Coombe (ed) Assessment Volume. TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching (Editor in Chief: John I. Liontas). TESOL/Wiley.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2016). Validity: What Is It and Who Is It for? In, Yiu-nam Leung (ed.) Epoch Making in English Teaching and Learning: Evolution, Innovation, and Revolution (pp.157-175). Taipei: Crane Publishing Company Ltd.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2016).Adapting Tests to the Local Context. New Directions in Language Assessment, special edition of the JASELE Journal. Tokyo: Japan Society of English Language Education & the British Council, pp145-158.
  • Berry, V. & O’Sullivan, B. (2016). Setting language standards for international medical graduates. In Jayanti Banerjee and Dina Tsagari (Eds.), Contemporary Second Language Assessment. London: Continuum.
  • Berry, V. & O’Sullivan, B. (2016). Language standards for medical practice in the UK: Issues of fairness and quality for all, in Docherty, C and Barker, F (Eds) Language Assessment for Multilingualism, Proceedings of the ALTE Paris Conference, April 2014, Studies in Language Testing volume 44, pp268-285. Cambridge: UCLES/Cambridge University Press.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2015).Validity, Validation and Development: Building and Operationalizing a Comprehensive Model. Japanese Language Testing Association Journal, 18: 25-33.

 

Papers published 2012-2013

  • O’Sullivan, B. (2013). Assessing Speaking. In Antony Kunnan (ed)Wiley Companion to Language Assessment. Oxford: Wiley.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2013). Assessing Spoken Language: Scoring Validity. In Dina Tsagari, Salomi Papadima-Sophocleous & Sophie Iannou-Georgiou (Eds.) International Experiences in Language Testing and Assessment. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2012).Assessment Issues in Languages for Specific Purposes.Modern Language Journal. Focus Issue: Languages for Specific Purposes in the United States in a Global Context: Update on Grosse and Voght (1991). Volume 96, Issue Supplement s1, pages 71–88.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2012). Testing Speaking.In Coombe, C. Davidson, P., O’Sullivan, B. and Stoynoff, C. (eds) The Cambridge Guide to Language Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2012). A History of Testing.In Coombe, C. Davidson, P., O’Sullivan, B. and Stoynoff, C. (eds) The Cambridge Guide to Language Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2012). Test Development.In Coombe, C. Davidson, P., O’Sullivan, B. and Stoynoff, C. (eds) The Cambridge Guide to Language Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • O’Sullivan, B. (2011). Language Testing.  In James Simpson (ed) Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Routledge.
  • O’Sullivan, B. & Nakatsuhara, F. (2011). Speaking test performance and test-taker personality. In Barry O’Sullivan (ed) Language Testing: Theory & Practice (pp.164-185). Oxford: Palgrave.
  • O’Sullivan, B. & Weir, C. (2011). Language Testing and Validation. In Barry O’Sullivan (ed) Language Testing: Theory & Practice (pp.13-32). Oxford: Palgrave.
  • Abad Florescano, A., O’Sullivan, B., Sanchez Chavez, C., Ryan, D. E., Zamora Lara, E., Santana Martinez, L. A., Gonzalez Macias, M. I., Maxwell Hart, M., Grounds, P. E., Reidy Ryan, P., Dunne, R. A. and Romero Barradas, T. de E. (2011). Developing affordable ‘local’ tests: the EXAVER project. In Barry O’Sullivan (ed) Language Testing: Theory & Practice (pp.228-243). Oxford: Palgrave.
  • O’Sullivan, B. & Green, T. (2011). Test taker characteristics. In Lynda Taylor (ed) Examining Speaking (pp.36-64). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Selected technical reports

Education

  • PhD, University of Reading, 2000
  • MA TEFL, University of reading, 1995
  • MI, Bolton St. College of Technology, Dublin 1977