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Important Considerations in Testing

Designing good informal tests for your students can be challenging.  Try to remember the following: 

·        Test questions should be relevant.  i.e., they should test something that you want students to know and that you’ve given them a chance to learn.  Irrelevant tests or questions are harmful – they confuse students and give them a discouraging sense of failure. 

·        Questions or tasks need to be clear and unambiguous.

·        Tests should test what they say they are going to test. 

·        You should allow an appropriate amount of time to give the test.

·        Tests should be designed so that it is easy to grade them consistently and fairly.  Ideally, it should also be possible to grade them quickly.

·        Tests should have a positive ‘backwash’ effect.  In other words, they should be designed so that preparing for the test will help students to progress towards course objectives. 

·        There should be some reason for saying that the test is an effective test of the topic.  Asking people to draw a picture is not an effective test of people’s ability to dance.  Asking people to fill in a grammar gap-fill is not an effective test of people’s ability to communicate in spoken English.  

Beth Neher,
Oct 16, 2009, 8:22 AM