Tests can make students feel insufficiently capable. A 100% performance-centred assessment (PA) instructional design is therefore considered a better option. This study examines a PA design wherein no tests are included, and its effects and benefits are investigated from the perspective of students. The two-semester course based on this instructional design was held for one academic year in an undergraduate English programme at a Tokyo university. A survey administered after the course experience obtained 67 valid responses revealing a high level of positivity towards the PA course design. Additionally, the course succeeded in building students’ self-efficacy and language use in a more strategic manner. Students also acknowledged the differences in the functionality between the test and PA methods, signifying a higher level of learning attained. Therefore, it can be concluded that a PA-centred course design has significant potential to deepen learning with skill-based education at the higher education level, providing a viable solution when conducting tests in person is not feasible, as during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.