Richard Spiby headshot

Richard Spiby, Test Development Researcher

Richard works on the development and validation of a range of British Council tests, including Aptis and IELTS. His responsibilities include overseeing operational analysis and investigating the receptive skills components for new and existing tests. He also works on a variety of assessment development and training projects worldwide. Richard has has over 20 years of experience in language assessment and teaching, mainly in the university sector, in test research, management and production.

Areas of expertise

  • Test development and validation
  • Issues related to equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Language assessment literacy
  • Test analysis and evaluation


Clark, T., Holland, M., & Spiby, R. (2023). Seeking empirical evidence to support online test validation: Building on the IELTS indicator assessment model. In K. Sadeghi (Ed), Technology-Assisted Language Assessment in Diverse Contexts (pp. 16-33). Routledge.

Clark, T., Spiby, R., & Tasviri, R. (2021). Crisis, Collaboration, Recovery: IELTS and COVID-19. Language Assessment Quarterly, 18(1), 17-25.

Holzknecht, F., McCray, G., Eberharter, K., Kremmel, B., Zehentner, M., Spiby, R., Dunlea, J. (2020). The effect of response order on candidate viewing behaviour and item difficulty in a multiple-choice listening test. Language Testing.

Fairbairn, J., Spiby, R. (2019). Towards a framework of inclusion: developing accessibility in tests at the British Council. European Journal of Special Needs Education, (34):2, 236-255. doi: 10.1080/08856257.2019.158140410

O’Sullivan, B., Dunlea, J., Spiby, R., Westbrook, C. and Dunn, K., (2020). Aptis General Technical Manual Version 2.2. British Council. 

Dunlea, J., Motteram, J., Fairbairn, J., Spiby, R., Jiang, R., Spoettl, C., Zehentner, M., Kremmel, B., Holzknecht, F. (2023). Development of the New Workplace Literacy and Numeracy (WPLN) Tests. British Council.

Nakatsuhara, F., May, L., Inoue, C., Willcox-Ficzere, E., Westbrook, C., Spiby, R. (2021). Exploring the potential for assessing interactional and pragmatic competence in semi-direct speaking tests. British Council Validations Series VS/2021/001. British Council.


  • MA, ELT, University of Reading
  • BA, Classics, Jesus College, Oxford