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Article

Strategies in Performing a Multi-Level C-test: Applying Think-Aloud Protocols

Babaii E., Permyakova T. M., Pozdeeva E.

The aims of this study were two-fold: 1) to identify the cognitive strategies that the Russian learners of English as a foreign language apply while they are taking a multi-level C-test; 2) to examine the correlation between the level of complexity of a C-test and the frequency of the usage of the cognitive strategies. 20 participants were asked to do a multi-level C-test comprised of three passages with missing parts, matching the difficulty scales of B1 to C2. The Think-Aloud Protocols method was used to explore how the participants approached the gap-filling tasks. Seven cognitive strategies were revealed ('predicting', 'summarizing', 'questioning', 'making connections', 're-reading/using fix-ups', 'identifying a problem' and 'reflecting'), with the frequency of each strategy varying across different levels of the text complexity. The frequency of the strategies ‘summarizing’ and ‘reflecting’ distinguish between reading texts at B1 and B2 levels. C2 text reading is marked by the increase of ‘questioning’ and ‘identifying a problem’ strategies. The results of chi-square tests indicate that texts with different complexity levels can trigger different type of processing used by the test-takers. The findings can have implications for test-taking strategy research and for level-sensitive modifications in the C-test procedure.