A Qualitative Study of Washback Effects of New Iranian TEFL Ph.D. Program Entrance Exam on Applicants’ Study Plans and Strategies: Insights From Instructors and Applicants

Document Type : Research Article


Yasouj University


The newly administered Iranian Ph.D. Program Entrance Exam (PPEE) is supposed to have had different washback effects on university curriculums. This qualitative study examined the effects of the new TEFL PPEE on the applicants’ study plans and strategies from the points of view of both Iranian university instructors and applicants. To this end, we conducted in-depth interviews with 10 experienced TEFL instructors from 4 different Iranian universities along with 10 applicants who sat both the old and new entrance exams. Findings indicated that from, the points of view of both instructors and applicants, the new exam has generated confusion in terms of technical content covered. It was also revealed that it has been more bits-and-pieces-oriented. The new exam, in the instructors’ view, has induced the applicants to develop exam-oriented strategies, rather than more demanding cognitive skills as required by target program courses.