Ask and answer the following questions before printing any test. Improve the test, then go ahead to print it.
1. Is the purpose of the test clear?
Is it a unit, month or end of term test? Is it to test what?
2. Does the test match the test specifications?
Are number and types of questions, distribution of marks, length of the reading text and time allowed as in the specifications?
3. Does the test content match the syllabus content?
Are the vocabulary, structures, functions, reading and writing questions in the test included in the syllabus?
4. Do the test questions match the objectives of the syllabus?
Do the test items measure to what extent the objectives are achieved?
5. Do the test items cover the cognitive levels?
Do the test items encourage students to show understanding, apply what they’ve learned, analyze, combine and evaluate?
6. Is the total time allowed clearly mentioned?
7. Are the marks for each question clearly written beside the question?
8. Are instructions clear on what exactly students have to do?
9. Are instructions grammatically correct, spelled correctly and written in simple, clear language?
10. Are the format and layout clear and easy to follow?
Regarding to format:
- Are the pages and all the questions numbered?
- Is the font familiar and easy to read?
- Are the texts and spaces well distributed?
- Are the pictures and tables clear?
Regarding to layout:
- Are the instructions clearly distinguished from the questions?
- Are all relevant questions on one page?
- Is there enough space for students to write their answers?
11. Are the questions organized in appropriate order from easy to difficult?
12. Are questions independent of each other? (students should not answer one question depending on another)
13. Are the questions in the right level according to the students’ level?
14. Is the answer key available in a separate paper, correct and complete?
15. Is there only one correct answer for each MCQ?
16. Are all acceptable answers included in the answer key?
17. Is there a clear rating scale for marking writing question?
18. Are the marks easy to compute?
19. Are all questions free of bias in any way?
20. Is the test as a whole free of any offensive language?
If you have already prepared a language test, don’t print it unless you check the following points. Then, you may go ahead to print it or improve it before printing. You should ensure that your test:
- Follows the specifications assigned for preparing the language tests.
- Measures the achievement of the desired objectives.
- Tests what it ought to test and measures what it is supposed to measure.
- Covers all items that have been taught or studied and includes items from different areas of the syllabus.
- Tests vocabulary as well as grammar.
- Includes everyday and communicative language.
- Is neither too difficult nor too easy but progressive in difficulty.
- Is appropriate in length for the allocated time.
- Tells students what to do exactly and in a clear way.
- Is easy to be conducted and scored without wasting too much time or effort.
- Produces the same results if it is given twice to same students under the same conditions.
Creating a good language test demand great care and responsibility on the part of the teachers. Most teachers don’t plan for writing their tests. As a result they often puzzle the students with these tests and reflect only their own expectations. The most important characteristics of a good test are reliability, validity and practicality.
* A reliable test produces the same result under the same circumstances.
* A valid test tests what it is supposed to test.
* A practical test is as economical as possible in time and in cost.
Additionally, there are four more necessary characteristics of a good language test:
1. Based on what students should know and can do according to the learning outcomes of the syllabus.
2. Enable the teacher to find out which parts of the language program cause difficulty for the class.
3. Without any traps for students but provide opportunities for them to show their ability to perform certain language tasks.
4. Designed to be a valuable teaching & learning tool, that’s to benefit the teachers to adjust their teaching to match students’ achievement level and to benefit students to learn from their mistakes.
Teachers charged to prepare a test should put in their minds that each test is not an end in itself, but a means to reach effective language mastery.