Versant for English (Versant)

Versant for English (Versant)

Narrative Summary: 

Versant (with Ordinate technology) evaluates the ability of non-native English speakers to understand spoken English and to express themselves clearly and appropriately in English.

Intended Population: 

Versant is intended for use with adults and students over 15 years of age who are non-native English speakers.


Versant is used for evaluating facility in spoken English. Versant can be used to evaluate the level of spoken English skills of individuals entering into, progressing through, and exiting English language courses. Also, Versant may be used to evaluate whether an individual¡¦s level of spoken English is sufficient to perform certain tasks or functions that require mastery of spoken English.

Skills Measured-Test Content: 

Versant measures listening and speaking skills.

Range of Skill Levels: 

Beginning to Advanced (native-like)

Number of Items per Test: 

The following items are scored:

  • Readings (8 items)
  • Repeats (16 items)
  • Short Answer Questions (24 items)
  • Sentence Builds (10 items)

The following items are not scored:

  • Open Questions (3 items)
Types of Items: 

All items are presented in a listen-then-speak format:

  • Readings: Read sentences out loud
  • Repeats: Repeat sentences verbatim
  • Short Answer Questions: Answer questions with a single word or short phrase
  • Sentence Builds: Say sentences built from three word groups
  • Open Questions: Express opinions and provide supporting reasons
Development of Items: 

Versant's test items were drafted by item developers in the United States. To ensure conversational content, actual conversations from 540 North Americans guided the design of test items. Lexical and stylistic patterns of these actual conversations were used to develop all items. Conversation samples were balanced by geography and gender and represented every major dialect of American English. In general, the language structures used in the test reflect those that are common in everyday spoken English. Test items were designed to be independent of social nuance and high-cognitive functions.

Draft versions of the test items were sent for outside review to ensure that they conformed to current colloquial English usage in different countries and would be appropriate for test takers who are trained to language standards other than U.S. English. British and Australian linguists reviewed all items to ensure conformity to colloquial usage in the United Kingdom and Australia.

All test items, including anticipated responses for short-answer questions, were checked for compliance with a vocabulary specification that was restricted to the most frequent words found in a corpus of spontaneous telephone conversations. Vocabulary items that were not present in the lexicon were either changed to other entries that were listed or kept and added to a supplementary vocabulary list. The changes proposed by the different reviewers were then reconciled, and the original items were edited accordingly.

For an item to be retained in the test, the item had to be understood and responded to appropriately by at least 90% of a reference sample of educated native speakers of English.

Size of Item Bank: 

The item bank contains thousands of items.


None. Versant for English has five sections: Readings, Repeats, Short Answer Questions, Sentence Builds, and Open Questions.

Alternate Test Forms: 

Versant generates new, unique forms for every test administration via the selection of items from the item pool. The selection is based on item difficulty such that equal numbers of low-, medium-, and high-difficulty items are drawn from the item pool for each test form. In this way, each test form is unique but has items of similar difficulty.

Required / Recommended Administrator Training: 

None required.

Test Administration Procedures: 

Tests can be administered either over the telephone or on a computer. Telephone administration is supported by a test paper. The test paper is a single sheet of paper with material printed on both sides. The first side contains general instructions and an introduction to the test procedures. These instructions are the same for all test takers and are available in several languages. The second side contains the individual test form, which contains the toll-free phone number, the test identification number, the spoken instructions written verbatim, item examples, and the printed sentences for Part A: Reading. Each test form is unique for each test taker. The administrator gives the test paper to the test taker at least 5 minutes before starting the Versant test. The test taker then has the opportunity to read both sides of the test paper and ask questions before the test begins. During the test, the system presents a series of spoken prompts in English at a conversational pace and elicits oral responses in English. Instructions for the test are spoken over the testing system in an examiner voice and are also presented verbatim on the printed test paper. Test items are presented in various native-speaker voices that are distinct from the examiner's voice. If the test is taken using the Ordinate Internet Delivered Test software, then the test taker is fitted with a microphone headset for the computer. The instructions for each section are spoken by an examiner's voice and are also displayed on the computer screen. The test takers interact with the test system in English, speaking their responses into the microphone.

Scoring - How: 

Tests are scored automatically using patented computer scoring algorithms. Note: The three Open Questions are not scored, and the first item on each of the other four sections of this test is not scored.

Scoring - Type: 

The score report is comprised of an Overall score and four diagnostic subscores: Sentence Mastery, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Pronunciation. All scores are reported on a scale from 20 to 80.

Scoring - Who: 

Ordinate's testing system analyzes the spoken performances and posts the scores at http://www.Vers...

Scoring - How Long: 


Reporting Procedures: 

Score reports are available from http://www.Vers...Individual score reports can be accessed from the "Test Scores" link by entering a test identification number. Score reports for groups of tests are available from the password-protected "ScoreKeeper" link.

Time Needed for Assessment: 

Versant generally takes 12 to 13 minutes to complete.

Publisher / Company / Source: 

Harcourt Assessment, Inc.

Versions & Publication Dates: 

Versant is revised every 3 to 4 years.


Price depends on volume. One is $40.00, two for $33.98 ($67.96 total), and three for $29.95 ($89.85 total). For more information, please contact Larry Rothenberg (315-685-0840).

Additional Comments: 

A scored demonstration can be obtained by completing an online form on the Web site.