Fonts on the IELTS
26 Feb 2006
I’ve been helping a student prepare for the IELTS (雅思 in Chinese), and she recently brought an interesting point to my attention. In her book of practice tests (a quality book published by Oxford University Press), different fonts were used for different reading selections. For example, a selection about biology was written in Times New Roman, whereas an article about education was written in Arial, and a passage about blindness and visualization was written in Verdana. She wanted to know if the real test was going to be like that.
I was impressed by her observation, but I had no idea to respond. Does the IELTS use a standard font, or does it vary the font from passage to passage? I’ve done some preliminary research, but I’ve been having trouble finding an answer because when I use “font” as a search term, Google ever so helpfully includes font tags and CSS text in its search, rendering the search results useless.
I asked my student if she thought the choice of font affected her performance. She responded, “Yes, it does. Sorry, I’m sensitive.” Heh. It would probably affect anyone at least somewhat on the unconscious level, but her years of experience in the marketing industry brought it to her conscious attention.
So, I’d just like to know… does anyone know if the IELTS actually varies the fonts of the passages on the real test? If not, which font does it use? If so, why does a respectable publisher vary the font in the practice test?? I think it’s good practice to expose students to different fonts, but in a test prep book, I don’t think it’s justifiable unless the test itself uses various fonts.