While I think that making the test shorter is a great idea, I am not sure that the changes they are making will remain fair for all students.
Here is why!
What happens if a student has greater difficulties in Listening, our strategy would be to become amazing at the other skills?
When a student has difficulties in Listening, Speaking tasks 4 & 6 can be super difficult because of the length of the audios and the very high vocabulary level.
In such cases, our strategy would be to focus on scoring really high on questions 1, 2,3 and 5. All of these questions give us the opportunity to give our opinions and personal examples. These four question types are much easier to answer because we know what to expect exactly, The structure to give a quality answer never changes.
Scoring high on these questions will help compensate for the lower scores we might see on questions 4 & 6.
HOWEVER, THEY ARE REMOVING 2 OF THE 4 EASIER SPEAKING TASKS!
The Writing section will remain the same, with 2 tasks taking a total of 50 minutes. The test will still be scored on a 0–30 scale for each section, and 0–120 for the total score.
READING & LISTENING SECTIONS
It it difficult to determine the affect that the new test changes will have on scores because there is no mention (that I am aware of) of what question types will be eliminated or reduced.
Why would this be a problem?
We know that effectively answering vocabulary, recognizing referents(pronouns), and details questions will give us a higher probability of score well because there is a higher percentage of these question types on the exam, and these are the easier types to answer.
This could have a adverse affect on scores.
On the other hand, if they reduce or remove Inference, paraphrase, or rhetorical purpose questions, scores will greatly increase.
In short, the changes mean only one thing: You must improve your listening, vocabulary, and note taking skills to ensure these changes have no affect on YOUR SCORE!