A Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment Study of the Reading Comprehension Section of the Preliminary English Test (PET)

Document Type : Special Issue


1 College of Education/ Al-Farahidi University, Baghdad, Iraq

2 Department of English/ College of Arts/ Ahl Al Bayt University/ Kerbala, Iraq

3 3College of Media, Department of Journalism/ The Islamic University in Najaf, Najaf, Iraq

4 English Language Department, Al-Mustaqbal University College, Babylon, Iraq

5 Department of English, Al-Nisour University College, Baghdad, Iraq

6 6Scientific Research Center, Al-Ayen University, Thi-Qar, Iraq


Cognitive diagnostic models (CDMs) have received much interest within the field of language testing over the last decade due to their great potential to provide diagnostic feedback to all stakeholders and ultimately improve language teaching and learning. A large number of studies have demonstrated the application of CDMs on advanced large-scale English proficiency exams, such as IELTS, TOEFL, MELAB, and ECPE. However, too little attention has been paid to the utility of CDMs on elementary and intermediate high-stakes English exams. The current study aims to diagnose the reading ability of test takers in the B1 Preliminary test, previously known as the Preliminary English Test (PET), using the generalized deterministic input, noisy, “and” gate (G-DINA; de la Torre, 2011) model. The G-DINA is a general and saturated model which allows attributes to combine in both compensatory and non-compensatory relationships and each item to select the best model. To achieve the purpose of the study, an initial Q-matrix based on the theory of reading comprehension and the consensus of content experts was constructed and validated. Item responses of 435 test takers to the reading comprehension section of the PET were analyzed using the “G-DINA” package in R. The results of attribute profiles suggested that lexico-grammatical knowledge is the most difficult attribute, and making an inference is the easiest one.