Our tests

ICELDA has different kinds of tests that have been developed for various levels and purposes: 

Tests of academic literacy

Our tests are used primarily to determine academic literacy levels of first-time entering students. The results are used either to place those students whose academic literacy level is too low on appropriate academic literacy development courses, or, more rarely, as part of an index to determine eligibility to higher education (access to university).  In the latter case the results are used for high stakes purposes, and we recommend that the ability to handle academic discourse at university level should not make up more than 15% of such an index. 

We also use test data for diagnostic purposes to inform us on what should be included in support interventions.

Our tests all measure constructs that rely on a widely accepted definition of academic literacy and language proficiency. 

  • academic argumentation;
  • vocabulary;
  • ambiguity, metaphor and idiom;
  • text types, genre and audience;
  • relations between text parts;
  • graphic and visual information;
  • distinctions between essential and non-essential information;
  • classifying, comparing;
  • sequence and order;
  • inference, evidence, extrapolation;
  • communicative function (defining or arguing);
  • meaning beyond the sentence level;
  • grammar and structure;
  • reading comprehensio;
  • listening comprehension; and
  • academic integrity.

Adapted from “What is academic literacy?” by Albert Weideman

ICELDA Vertical Web elements (2)

Available tests


TALL (Test of Academic Literacy Levels) and TAG (Toets van Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke) make up the bulk of the annual sales, with more than 150 000 already administered internationally. North-West University, who use TALL and TAG for placement purposes, is our biggest client. Need to know what these look like?


TALPS (Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students) is another test that is widely used. It has been institutionalised at the University of Pretoria and several other universities as part of an array of access, development and diagnostic instruments.  

Its Afrikaans counterpart, TAGNAS (Toets van Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke vir Nagraadse Studente), has also been refined and standardised. 

For more information, see:


ALT (Academic Listening Test) measures the academic listening ability of students when exposed to lectures, seminars and individual conversations. It tests intensive (detail) as well as extensive (broad idea) listening skills.


The Language Proficiency Tests are typical proficiency tests that measure both advanced grammar and functional language use. A good example is ProficiT, a test of advanced language ability at post-secondary level. 


Test of Academic Literacy for Prospective Students of Nursing is a test that has been widely used to determine the language readiness of paramedical assistance who now wish to undertake mainstream training in nursing. 


The Test of Advanced Language Ability is available at Grade 10 and Grade 12 level. It therefore tests the ability to handle language for educational purposes at senior secondary school level. It reflects functional knowledge of language as defined by the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for the senior phase. 


The Test of Early Academic Literacy tests the school language readiness of 9 to 10 year olds.


The Test of Emergent Literacy is a test that identifies the emergence of language ability in 5-6 year olds, mainly in emergent reading and writing.

Good to know ...

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Why choose our tests? (click to expand)

Our tests are highly reliable and the majority have been validated. Co-efficient alpha as high as 0.96 has been measured on samples as small as 33 with tests of 65 questions. We investigate their internal validity (face, content and construct) as well as external validity (consequential, concurrent, predictive) as part of our validation efforts.

ICELDA not only makes these tests available to its partners and to others, but also has the capacity to help scholars in other parts of the world to develop tests appropriate for their environments. The tests we design fulfil a critically important function not only in South Africa, but elsewhere as well.

The Bibliography on Language Assessment, hosted by the Network for Expertise on Language Assessment (NExLA), is evidence of the thorough research on which the designs have been built, validated, and scrutinised for fairness and justness.


Test of Academic Literacy Levels


Toets van Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke ​


Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students


Toets van Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke vir Nagraadse Studente


Academic Listening Test​


Language Proficiency Test​


Test of Academic Literacy for Prospective Students of Nursing​


Test of Advanced Language Ability​


Test of Early Academic Literacy​


Test of Emergent Literacy for 5-6 year olds