Benelux

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What's in the online contest
Everything you need to know

The online contest

We can’t tell you exactly what questions are in the contest – that would be cheating! – but we can give you an overview of the type, number and level of questions that you should expect. Read on for an indepth look into the online contest.

For a more first-hand approach, we recommend taking a look at the demo. It gives examples of 25 questions from a level 1 contest and is the best way to really undestand how the contest works.

 

What is the format of the contest?

There are two parts to the contest: listening and reading. Both parts are taken in the same sitting with no break in between. The time allowed for both parts is 45 minutes.

All the questions are multiple choice. There are four possibilities, only one of which is correct.

There are three degrees of question difficulty: easy, medium and hard. The test begins with easy questions, gradually introducing medium, then hard questions as the student progresses through the test. The hardest questions (“The Biggest Challenge”) come at the very end.

Students can answer the questions in any order by using the panel on the right. We recommend following the prescribed order, however, as it allows students to warm up on easier questions before attempting the more challenging ones. They can also use the panel to skip or return to questions at any time during the 45 minutes.

The majority of questions use images. The images provide context for the question and are also intended to make the contest more approachable and appealing to its young participants. Images are sometimes used in the question itself; participants may have to select which statement is true based on what they see in the image, or they may have to choose which of four images corresponds with a spoken or written text.

 

How many questions are there?

There are 55 questions in the online contest:

  • 25 easy questions (worth 4 points)
  • 15 medium questions (worth 5 points)
  • 15 hard questions (worth 6 points)

 

What is tested?

Listening (33 questions)

Students will hear individual words, short phrases or sentences, and longer dialogues or extracts (e.g. conversations, telephone calls or radio programmes). Students are commonly asked to demonstrate listening comprehension by:

  • selecting the correct corresponding image or text;
  • choosing the appropriate response to a request, question or statement;
  • identifying a situation;
  • giving information included in the audio.

In addition to comprehension, there are also questions on pronunciation, i.e. English sounds and syllable stress. Students may be asked to correctly identify words with the same phonemes by completing a list or finding the odd one out.

Finally, there are also cultural questions in the listening part of the test, as there are in the reading part. These test the students’ knowledge of English-speaking countries’ history, geography, customs and traditions.

All recordings are made using native English speakers with a speed of delivery appropriate to the level.

 

Reading (22 questions)

For this second part of the test, students will read a selection of texts, from short sentences to extended extracts (e.g. emails, articles, notices).  Questions are divided as follows:

  • grammar questions;
  • reading comprehension questions;
  • cultural questions;
  • The Biggest Challenge (any topic!)

 

What level is the contest?

There are five levels of The Big Challenge contest. We refer to both the CEFR and class textbooks when writing the questions.

 

The Big Challenge Levels CEFR
Level 1 A1 to A1+
Level 2 A1+ to A2
Level 3 A2
Level 4 A2 to A2+
Level 5 B1

 

If you have any questions about which level your students should take, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist.

How long does it take?

Students are given 45 minutes to complete the test. However, because they work at their own pace, some students may finish in under 45 minutes. When scheduling the contest, you should allow a few additional minutes before the test begins for students to enter their code and some information (school, region, etc), watch a quick demo and do a sound test.

 

 

The Contest demo

The best way to discover what’s in the contest is to try the demo. It shows the types of questions you can expect in the contest.

 

Try the demo

FAQ

What do I have to prepare for the day of the competition?

You will receive the contest link and the Big Challenge code/school code by e-mail approx. one week before the start of the competition period. The contest link is not the link to our website nor the link to our DEMO-online Version. The coordinating teacher receives the contest link and has to forward it to their students and colleagues. 

Important matters to prepare befor the contest:

  • A room and a supervisor
  • One computer, tablet (at least 9 inches) or smartphone with an Internet connection and a headset or headphones per student, so that students do not disturb each other when listening to comprehension questions.

    TIPP: If you do not have enough headphones, you can either ask the students to bring their own or you can download the audio files in your account and play them individually for everyone during the competition.

  • If you are planning several rounds because there are not enough terminals available, we recommend to let all pupils from one year participate together or directly one after the other, if possible, to reduce the number of arrangements as much as possible.

  • Please have the following 3 things ready for your students:
    • contest link (ATTENTION: it is a separate link sent to you by e-mail, NOT our general website)
    • Big Challenge code/school code (4 numbers + 1 letter)
    • tutorial on the technical structure of the competition, which can be played to all pupils before the competition is held

  • To test access to the online test and the hardware, we also recommend that you do a trial run with the participants - use our demo version of the online version.
    For more information about the actions to be taken before the day of the competition, please refer to the corresponding To Do list
What happens the day of the contest?
  • The competition can be held at any time within the three weeks of the competition in a suitable (computer) room. There can be as many rounds per week as needed.
  • The test happens online on a computer, tablet or smartphone with an Internet connection.

  • A member of the teaching staff will supervise the competition and ensure that it runs smoothly.

  • Before starting, you are welcome to play this video tutorial to show the students where to enter their personal details and how the competition looks like (available soon).

  • Students are given a 45-minute session to complete the contest. This session may be scheduled at any time during the day to accommodate teachers’ and school schedules, preferably in the morning. To facilitate organisation, and to adapt to schools’ capacities in terms of computer equipment, several sessions may be scheduled the day of the contest: one session for each level for example. In exceptional cases where the date may prove impossible for the school or for certain classes, a special dispensation may be granted to hold the contest at an earlier date.
  • Participants log into the competition website using the Big Challenge code that was sent to the coordinating teacher by e-mail before the competition. The students enter their name and choose the right level. All they have to do is follow the instructions on the screen and select the answers online (completely secure), so that the result can be sent to us automatically.

A detailed to-do list for preparation can also be found here (available soon). Please make sure that your students respect the following rules:

  • During the competition the students are answering the questions completely on their own.
  • The test may only be taken once per student.
  • Neither aids (book, dictionary, internet, ...) nor help from another person are allowed.
  • Any violation of these rules will lead to disqualification of the participants.

Follow this link to find help if your students are experiencing technical difficulties. 

 

 

What does the test look like?

The competition consists of 55 questions, for which the students have 45 minutes to answer. For each question there are four possible answers to choose from and the task is to choose the only correct one.

The 55 questions cover vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, cultural questions and listening comprehension by embedding image and audio sequences. There are three degrees of question difficulty: easy, medium and hard for which the students can earn 4 points, 5 points or 6 points. The value of the question is shown on the upper right corner of the screen.

For each correct answer there is a corresponding score. If the student gives an incorrect answer, the points of that question are not awareded and he or she loses a quarter of the value of that question. If no answer is given, the question is awarded 0 points. In order to avoid a negative or zero score, the score obtained by adding the total number of points earned by the student is increased by 85 points. Students’ scores will thus range from 18.75 to 350 points.

You can find all the information about the grading process in our contest rules 'The Day of the contest' > 'Scores'.

Questions from previous tests are published on our website as well as a DEMO-Version to see what the competition looks like and test ones network. 

 

There are five levels of The Big Challenge contest:

The questionnaires are developed according to the level corresponding to the student's class. We refer to both the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) and class textbooks when writing the questions.

Level Big Challenge Levels                        CEFR

Level 1                                                         A1 > A1+  
Level 2                                                         A1+ > A2  
Level 3                                                         A2  
Level 4                                                         A2 > A2+  
Level 5                                                         B1  

 

If you have any questions about which level your students should take, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist:

E-Mail: benelux@thebigchallenge.com / Phone: +32 2 588 23 78 OR +31 85 888 3364

When will I receive access and our Big Challenge code for the competition?

You will receive the contest link and the Big Challenge code/school code by e-mail approx. one week before the start of the competition period. The contest link is not the link to our website nor the link to our DEMO-online Version. The coordinating teacher receives the contest link and has to forward it to their students and colleagues. 

Click on this link to find all the information about what needs to be prepared for the competition.

Are headphones absolutely necessary?

Your students will need a computer, a tablet (at least 9 inches) or a smartphone with an Internet connection, as well as a headset or headphones so that they do not disturb each other during the listening comprehension.

If you do not have enough headphones, you can either ask the students to bring their own or you can download the audio files in your account and play them one by one for everyone during the competition.

 

Please use at least Chrome 35, Firefox 35, Safari 11, Internet Explorer 11 or a later version. Older Browsers may experience display problems.

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