A proficiency test must evaluate the student's language skill. The language skill model chosen for the test (Bachman, 1990) is common to the reference scales used in developing the TPLS. In Bachman's model, language skill includes four components:
The functional or intentional component: what the language user wants to do when communicating, e.g., inform, advise, instruct.
The sociocultural component: the elements specific to a culture that affect communication, e.g., rules of politeness, register (colloquial or formal language).
The discursive or textual component: the elements used in the organization and coherence of speech or text, e.g., words that link ideas and paragraphs.
The grammatical component: the elements ensuring construction of proper sentences, e.g., the parts of a sentence or the conjugation of verbs.
All of these components are involved in an individual's language skill. The reference scales consider these components in the description of language skill progress. Consequently, tests aimed at evaluating language skill must take these components into account.
The Scale of Second Language Proficiency Levels for the College Student, used as a basis for the TPLS, has 10 oral and written comprehension skill levels. Each level includes several indicators designed to guide skill assessment.
The description of each skill level is available to teachers and students in the online Help Guide that accompanies the test.