20 Questions to Ask yourself Before Printing your Test

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?    

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The Cycle of Creating a Good Language Test

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  1. The decision of providing and making the test:

It is usually made by the head teacher, administration, or the supervisor to select a teacher to construct the test. Or the teacher himself decides to make and provide the test as a formative kind of assessment of students’ learning.

  1. Considering the specifications:

It is related to have and get a look at the specifications of the test that should be followed to produce the test in its final version.

  1. Collecting information for the test:

In this stage the test provider collects information about the students (the test takers), their levels, abilities, points of weakness and points of strength as well and about the content on which the test is based, its objectives and outcomes, the items that have been taught and the teacher focused on and the items that have not been taught or have less focus in teaching.

  1. Assembling the materials for the test:

Here the test provider should write sample questions for the test following the specifications. As many questions as possible should be written down on a separate paper in this stage.

  1. Making the test:

According to the information collected in stage 3, the test provider should select from the questions written in stage 4 those questions which are suitable and use them to construct the test according to stage 2. Marks should be provided besides each question in the test as well.

  1. Marking and grading the test:

After conducting the test, it should be marked and graded. Marking means providing accurate marks for each students while grading means putting the marks into a meaningful category so that the test results can be understood.

  1. Reporting and communicating the test results:

In the final stage, test takers and others who concern should be provided with the test results and any other information needed for an appropriate interpretation.

Six Tips to Make Testing More Productive

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Although testing has many positive effects on education and learning, it has some negative aspects that we should take into account and try to minimize them. By doing the following, teachers can make testing more productive and not a negative experience for learners:

  1. Explain to students the purpose of the test and stress the positive effects it has.
  2. Give students a lot of notices and revise the previous lessons before the test.
  3. Tell students that you will take into account their work in the classroom beside the test result.
  4. During the test time, go through the questions giving clear instructions and clarifying any specific areas of difficulty.
  5. Be fair and objective when marking the test and hand out the results as quickly as possible.
  6. Emphasize that an individual should compare their results with their own previous scores not with others in the class.

A Quiz on “Types of Assessment”

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How much knowledge do you have about assessment? Do you know how many types of assessment there are? Can you differentiate between formative & summative assessment? Do you know the importance of diagnostic assessment? What is integrative assessment?

To assess to what extent your knowledge about assessment is good, you can do that quiz on https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi on “Types of Assessment” which is a topic of six-topic course on “Assessment Literacy”.

To Follow the Course, you should:
1. Create a free account on edmodo.com
2. Login to your account.
3. Join my group “Assessment Literacy”
* Join Group URL is https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi

Four Necessary Characteristics of a Good Test

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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.

8 Kinds of Testing & 6 Types of Tests

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There are eight kinds of testing. They are as follow:

1. Direct testing:
Testing is said to be direct when the student is required to perform directly the skill which we wish to measure. E.g. we ask students to write compositions if we want to know how well they can write compositions. We ask them to speak if we want to know how well they can pronounce a language.

2. Indirect testing:
Indirect testing attempts to measure the abilities which underlie the skills in which we are interested. E.g. we test pronunciation ability by asking students to identify pairs of words which rhyme with each other.

3. Objective testing:
It doesn’t require judgement on the part of the scorer because scoring here is objective. It won’t change even if the scorer has been changed. Multiple choice test is an example of this kind of tests.

4. Subjective testing:
It requires judgement on the part of the scorer because scoring here is subjective. The grades in subjective testing depend on the impressions of the scorer. These impressions are not the same among different scorers. Scoring of a composition is an example of this kind of testing.

5. Discrete point testing:
It refers to the testing of one element at a time, item by item. This kind of testing is always indirect. Each testing involves a particular item. Testing particular grammatical structures is an example of this kind of testing.

6. Integrative testing:
It includes many language elements in the completion of a task. It might involve writing a composition, taking notes while listening to a text and completing a cloze passage.

7. Norm-referenced testing:
This kind of testing relates one student’s performance to that of other students. We don’t say that student is capable of doing well in the language but we say the student gained a score that placed him/her in the top five students who have taken the same test.

8. Criterion-referenced testing:
The purpose of this kind of testing is to classify students according whether they are able to perform some tasks satisfactorily. Who perform the tasks satisfactorily ‘pass’, those who don’t, ‘fail’. We measure students’ progress in relation to meaningful criteria.

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6 Types of Tests

There are six different types of tests. They are as follow:

1. Placement test:
It is used to place new students in the right class in a school. It assesses students’ productive and receptive skills. It is designed to show how good a student is in English in relation to a previously agreed system of levels.

2. Diagnostic test:
It is used to discover student problems, difficulties or deficiencies in a course. We use this type of tests to know students’ strengths and weaknesses so as to be able to do something about them.

3. Progress/Achievement test:
It is designed to measure students’ language and their skill progress in relation to the syllabus they have been following. This type is directly related to language courses and done during the course.

4. Final progress/achievement test:
It is done at the end of the course to measure students’ achievement of the course objectives or goals.

5. Proficiency test:
It is not necessarily based on certain courses that students may have previously taken. Most students take this type of tests to admit to a foreign university, get a job or obtain some kind of certificate. It is designed to measure students’ knowledge and ability in a language.

6. Aptitude test:
It is designed to discover whether a student has a talent or basic ability for learning a new language or not.

12 Characteristics of a Good Test

A good test should be:

1- Valid:

It means that it measures what it is supposed to measure. It tests what it ought to test. A good test which measures control of grammar should have no difficult lexical items.

2- Reliable:

If it is taken again by ( same students, same conditions ), the score will be almost the same regarding that the time between the test and the retest is of reasonable length. If it is given twice to same students under the same circumstances, it will produce almost the same results. In this case it is said that the test provides consistency in measuring the items being evaluated.

3- Practical:

It is easy to be conducted, easy to score without wasting too much time or effort.

4- Comprehensive:

It covers all the items that have been taught or studied. It includes items from different areas of the material assigned for the test so as to check accurately the amount of students’ knowledge

5- Relevant:

It measures reasonably well the achievement of the desired objectives.

6- Balanced:

It tests linguistic as well as communicative competence and it reflects the real command of the language. It tests also appropriateness and accuracy.

7- Appropriate in difficulty:

It is neither too hard nor too easy. Questions should be progressive in difficulty to reduce stress and tension

8- Clear:

Questions and instructions should be clear. Pupils should know what to do exactly.

9- Authentic:

The language of the test should reflect everyday discourse

10- Appropriate for time:

A good test should be appropriate in length for the allotted time.

11- Objective:

If it is marked by different teachers, the score will be the same. Marking process should not be affected by the teacher’s personality. Questions and answers are so clear and definite that the marker would give the students the score he/she deserves.

12- Economical:

It makes the best use of the teacher’s limited time for preparing and grading and it makes the best use of the pupil’s assigned time for answering all items. So, we can say that oral exams in classes of +30 students are not economical as it requires too much time and effort to be conducted.

To develop quality language test, I recommend reading:

1. Designing and Developing Useful Language Tests (Oxford Applied Linguistics)

2. Developing and Validating Test Items

3. Developing and Using Tests Effectively: A Guide for Faculty