Examining Cloze Tests as a Measure of Linguistic Complexity in L2 Writing

Eun Seon Chung1, Soojin Ahn2,
Author Information & Copyright
1Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
2University of Seoul
*Corresponding Author : Visiting Professor, Division of General English, University of Seoul, 163 Seoulsiripdaero, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02504, Korea , E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 31, 2019 ; Revised: Dec 02, 2019 ; Accepted: Dec 18, 2019

Published Online: Dec 31, 2019


Given that cloze tests are strongly associated with learners’ writing proficiency, the present study examines the relationship between cloze test scores and specific linguistic features in second language (L2) writing. We investigate whether cloze tests can adequately and reliably measure linguistic features of syntactic and lexical complexity in L2 writing. Furthermore, the present study investigates the effect of the scoring method and L2 proficiency level on the relationship between cloze test scores and linguistic complexity features. Analysis of 60 students’ writing compositions found the syntactic and lexical complexity features in length-related measures, complex nominals, and lexical variation to be significantly correlated with their cloze test scores. There was no significant difference in the effects of the two scoring methods. Also, cloze tests were most informative for high-level learners and least informative for intermediate-level learners. Implications for the use of cloze tests as a diagnostic measure in L2 writing classrooms are provided.

Keywords: cloze test; syntactic complexity; lexical complexity; scoring method; L2 writing proficiency



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