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D. Behrouz1, R. Vahdani Sanavi1, A. Safivand2, A. Khademi-Shamami3

1Islamic Azad University - Roudehen Branch (IRAN)
2Islamic Azad University - Shahre Ghods Branch (IRAN)
3Iran University of Science & Technology (IRAN)
What is it that one needs to know in a language to be able to write it? What challenges do students meet when they try to write for a high-stakes test? How should the teacher react to students taking such high-stakes tests as TOEFL or IELTS? Or yet, does knowledge of all these things for both the teacher and the learner contribute significantly to their successful enhancement of knowledge and subsequent better performance? These are only a few of the problems that students who wish to sit for these exams should deal with. Basically, what the researchers would like to find out is what challenges high-stakes tests candidates face. Some scholars (Brown, [1]; Nunan, [2]) have mentioned what makes writing difficult but none have mentioned whether or not there is anything which adds to the difficulty of the high-stakes tests. What other challenges do students meet when taking the TOEFL or IELTS exam? To this end, some 67, IELTS and TOEFL students were asked to fill out a questionnaire to find out what challenges they have when they write in English, in general and what makes high-stakes writing component difficult, in particular. Twenty four of the participants were then interviewed to have an in-depth analysis of their challenges. The findings, among others, suggest that high-stakes tests exert so much pressure on the candidates. Since they believe their future rests in their performance on such tests, they might not even be able to evince their actual knowledge of the language.