Pearson has been a fixture in the edtech space for long. Founded in 1844, the company now operates across 70 countries with 35,000 employees.
Pearson has one mission: to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Working towards this, the company has put together a massive repository for all stakeholders, be it learners, educators, or practitioners.
With its expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology, the company aims to make a difference.
Established in India in 1998, Pearson has introduced its wide range of products and services in educational institutes and directly to learners.
The services include the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), which offers “unbiased English testing for studying abroad and immigration” and “is trusted by universities, colleges, and governments around the world.
Freya Thomas, Senior Vice President, English Assessment and PTE Academic, was recently in India to launch PTE Academic 79 Plus, a step-by-step guide to help learners crack the exam.
Freya, a business and strategy leader, has more than 20 years of experience in international and high-profile businesses. She has expertise in education, spanning the UK, the US, India, and other fast-growing markets.
In an exclusive interview with YourStory, Freya Thomas reveals how the landscape is changing for English assessment exams, globally and in India, and what Pearson’s plans for the future are.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
YourStory: Tell us about your journey with Pearson.
Freya Thomas: I joined Pearson 15 years ago as the director of business strategy, assessment, and testing. It is a business that had a particular social purpose and was all about learning. In the last 15 years, I realised that education and learning are extremely important. At Pearson, which has a great set of people, the role of learning in the world is the motivation.
I have had several challenges and opportunities along with a number of projects with an international aspect. This let me travel and understand markets very deeply.
On the personal side, I had three children while working at Pearson. It has been a really great place to be a working mother.
YS: What changes have you seen in the global education and learning space? How is technology helping the sector?
FT: The demand for education is on the rise, regardless of age. Our research has shown that people have realised that learning needs to be lifelong.
Technology has made it possible to make content more interesting, facilitating learning. It also enhances access, reaching places where quality education is a problem. In areas that lack good schools, it offers communities the chance to give their children proper education.
YS: What are some of the unique features of Pearson PTE and how is it different from other English language tests?
FT: Pearson Tests of English (PTE) is a product we launched 10 years ago and it is now very popular in India. It is a test of English language that reveals a person’s proficiency.
PTE Academic is a high-stakes, computer-based English proficiency test that people take to prove their skills for studying abroad and visa applications.
It offers international students and employment seekers a fast (results typically in five business days), fair (accurate computer marking with no potential for examiner bias), and flexible (tests held 363 days of the year) way of proving their English language proficiency. It is delivered at hundreds of test centres round the year, offering learners the flexibility they need.
The three-hour test has three main segments: speaking and writing, listening, and reading. The question formats in the test range from multiple choice to essay writing and interpreting information.
PTE Academic is accepted by renowned colleges, universities, training providers, and professional associations across the US, the UK, Canada, and Singapore. The schools that recognise it include Harvard Business School, Yale University, INSEAD, and London Business School.
AI is used to determine the scores; the test also reveals one’s strengths and weaknesses in English. We tapped AI to measure language proficiency to ensure there was no bias in the system.
PTE has seen tremendous growth in India over the last five years. We now have coaching classes across India. PTE Academic offers global testing at more than 250 test centres in over 50 countries. We have witnessed about 30 percent growth over the last three years.
YS: What are your future plans for PTE Academic?
FT: We want to provide increased access to people and enhance learning. India is a big country. We want to expand the service across the nation, help people to learn English, and prepare for the test in a better way.
YS: How does the book ‘PTE Academic 79 Plus’ help learners achieve their dream score?
FT: With PTE, we score students from 10-90. We introduced this book to help students enhance their skills and score 79+ marks in the PTE.
PTE Academic 79 Plus is basically a step-by-step guide to every question type in PTE Academic. The simple and lucid language makes it user-friendly. With more than 150 examples, detailed explanations, and two full-length practice tests, we think it’s a one-stop solution for all PTE Academic test takers.
YS: Tell us about your future plans regarding Pearson and PTE.
FT: We are looking forward to improved coverage and increased momentum. We want to ensure faster growth, and get more universities around the world to recognise PTE Academic.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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