An examination of the washback effect on Iranian EFL learners’ reading comprehension: Any implications for text difficulty in the classroom?

shabnam kurosh khanshan


In order to better understand the mechanisms of washback, the present study aimed to explore the washback effect of the entrance examination in Iran on language learners’ achievement in reading comprehension. The purpose of this study was also to examine ways in which the washback effect could modulate the selection of reading texts in the classroom, their difficulty level, and their effectiveness from the perspective of test takers. A total of 48 state and private university students studying English language teaching (ELT) at the MA level took part in this study. Participants were asked to provide answers to a researcher-developed questionnaire as well as to open-ended questions. The results of data analysis revealed that the entrance exam had a positive washback on learners’ reading comprehension in a number of ways. Furthermore, it was found that textbooks with a moderate level of difficulty were perceived as more effective by test takers. Implications for policymakers and suggestions for further research are presented.


washback; assessment; reading comprehension; text difficulty; entrance exam

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