How to Avoid Negative Effects of Tests on Students

Some educators argue against using tests saying that students study for tests only at the end of the semester or when the school year is about to finish while not work throughout the course and once the test has finished, students forget all that had been learned. Others added that students become focused on passing tests rather than learning to improve their skills. All these arguments don’t justify eliminating tests at all because there are many reasons and much importance for testing.

Reasons for Testing

  • A test can give the teacher valuable information about where the students are in their learning.
  • A test can affect what the teacher will cover next.
  • Tests help teachers to decide if their teaching has been effective and help to highlight what needs to be reviewed.
  • Testing can be as much an assessment of the teaching as the learning.
  • Tests can give students a sense of accomplishment as well as information about what they know and what they need to review.
  • Tests can be extremely motivating and give students a sense of progress.
  • Tests can highlight areas for students to work on and tell them what has and hasn’t been effective in their learning.
  • Tests can also have a positive effect in that they encourage students to review material covered on the course.
  • Tests can encourage students to consolidate and extend their knowledge.
  • Tests are also a learning opportunity after they have been taken.
  • The feedback after a test can be invaluable in helping students to understand something they couldn’t do during the test. Thus, the test is a review in itself.

Making Testing More Productive

It is very important to bear in mind the negative aspects the arguments mentioned and try to minimize the negative effects. We can do the following to make testing more productive.

  • Make the test a less intimidating experience by explaining to the students the purpose of the test and focus on the positive effects it will have.
  • Give the students plenty of notice and teach some revision classes beforehand.
  • Tell the students that you will take into account their work on the course as well as the test result.
  • When you hand out the results, go through the answers fairly quickly, highlight any specific areas of difficulty and give the students their results on slips of paper.
  • Emphasize that a student should compare their results with their own previous scores, not with others in the class. 

Learning From Tests

Finally, it is very important to remember that tests also give teachers valuable information on how to improve the process of evaluation.

Ask students some questions to evaluate the test. e.g.

  • “Were the instructions clear?” “
  • Do the test items cover what that been taught?
  • “Did I manage to create a non-threatening atmosphere?”

These questions and others may be added help the teacher to avoid any pitfalls next time.

Using Alternatives to Testing

There are other alternatives that can be used instead of or alongside tests.

  • Continuous Assessment

Teachers give grades for a number of assignments over a period of time. A final grade is decided on a combination of assignments.

  • Portfolio

A student collects a number of assignments and projects and presents them in a file. The file is then used as a basis for evaluation.

  • Self-assessment

The students evaluate themselves. The criteria must be carefully decided upon beforehand.

  • Classroom Work Assessment

The teacher gives an assessment of the learner for work done throughout the course including classroom contributions.

In Short

Tests should not be the only criteria for assessment, but that they are one of many tools that we can use. I feel that choosing a combination of methods of assessment is the fairest and most logical approach.

But tests still have an important function for both students and teachers. By trying to limit the negative effects of tests we can try to ensure that they are as effective as possible. One important thing to be done to limit the negative effects of tests is writing effective test items.


Announcement! I’ve Launched a New eBook.

 For over 20 years, I’ve developed, contributed to creating and administered school tests. And in that time, I’ve noticed one thing popping up again and again: As a teacher and a test builder, it’s really hard to write effective test items.

With this challenge in mind, I’m really excited to announce the launch of “Writing Effective Test Questions: The Definitive Guide”

What is This Guide?

Designed with how to create effective test items in mind, this definitive guide gives the teachers step-by-step instructions they need to go deeper, further and faster toward making a success in preparing effective classroom exams with ease and comfort.

With the help of valuable guidelines included in this guide, teachers will be able to avoid any pitfalls in the testing of their students.

This guide is a valuable resource for any teacher interested in constructing test items that can capture effectively what a student knows.

It is the comprehensive guide that I personally wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.

So How Much Does It Cost?

To spread the benefit out to as many teachers as possible, I offer this definitive guide for the lowest price. It costs only $ .99 but to know, this price will last until 30 April 2019, then, the price will be raised.

So, if you want to establish technical quality of your test, write effective test items and avoid any pitfalls in making tests, why not head down to get Writing Effective Test Questions: The Definitive Guide” and find out how much benefit you will get for the lowest cost.

It is only $ .99! You will lose nothing comparing to the most benefit you will get. 

Thanks for Reading

Anyone help me get the word out about this definitive guide will be appreciated.

Share it with your networks.


You may also like to subscribe to my blog not only to be notified of my latest posts and publications but also to get my FREE GIFTSTwo of My Featured ELT Guides.
Look down, write your email address, and then click “Subscribe”

Subscribe to our Blog  

Writing Effective Test Questions: The Definitive Guide. Now Released

I’d like to announce that my new eBook: “Writing Effective Test Items: The Definitive Guide” is now RELEASED. 

What is This eBook About?

It is a practical guide to constructing effective test questions. It provides teachers with step-by-step instructions they need to go deeper, further and faster toward making a success in preparing effective classroom exams with ease and comfort.

Why Did I Create it?

I created this eBook because many teachers asked me frequently for a guide to help them write test questions in a more effective way.

What Benefits Can You Get From It?

In this eBook, I share my experience in creating successful exams over +20 years. It is the comprehensive guide that I wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.

After reading this guide, teachers will be able to:

  • Establish technical quality of a test by achieving certain standards.
  • Use and develop effective test items following appropriate guidelines.
  • Avoid common pitfalls in testing their students.
  • Grade essay tests more effectively and fairly.

How Much Does it Cost?

Don’t miss your chance to secure your copy now! To grab your copy of this guide, click the link below. Doing so, you will take the privilege to get it only for $.99

Yes! It is for less than ONE DOLLAR! But to know, this price will last only until 30 April 2019.  After that, the price will be raised. So, hurry to get your copy for the lowest price. You will lose nothing.

Who is This eBook For?

This guide is a valuable resource for any teacher who is interested in constructing test items that can capture effectively and fairly what a student knows.

It is the comprehensive guide that I personally wish someone would have shared with me when I first started to make classroom tests for my students.

Six Tips to Encourage Students to Speak Out in English

1. Give Clear Goals and Instructions.

Inform your students with the main goal of speaking and the importance of developing speaking skills. Model speaking with one of your best students so everyone can see what to say. Students also need to know how to say something. Without understanding why, what and how, many students think it is not important to do anything.

2. Reinforce Any Attempt of Speaking.

Reward ANY attempt to speak in English. If students speak out loudly and clearly, but make a mistake, praise them just for speaking out. As students improve, you can focus on the most outstanding successes. The more you encourage, the more students will try to speak. On the other hand, if you do not encourage them, they will likely become passive in class.

3. Use the Element of Surprise.

Students usually know exactly what will happen in class and answer questions mechanically. By adding surprises to your lessons, students will be forced to think about the meaning and will pay more careful attention. You might ask students about their families, and then ask if they are married, or if they can drive a car. Students who are answering without thinking will say “yes” automatically. In such cases, their classmates will usually laugh at their mistakes, and they will realize the importance of paying attention.

Saying anything strange will improve the class atmosphere. So, whenever you prepare a list of questions, add something funny or strange at the end. Add some intentional mistakes to see who will find them and react to them by speaking out.

4. Do “Information Gap” Activities.

You can do what is called the “information gap” activity with students to encourage speaking. Give only SOME students certain information, a text or picture, for example, the other students must use English to find out what information they are missing. Successful pair practice and language games include “information gaps” can encourage students to talk and ask questions to discover what information they do not have.

5. Use the Types of Speaking Activities in the Right Sequence.

Start with a simple, mechanical activity, then continue with something more meaningful, and finish with a communicative activity. When students do a variety of speaking activities, they will practice speaking in the right way. This way will encourage both high and low achiever students to speak with ease and comfort.

6. Use Competition .

Competition automatically grabs students’ attention. The easiest way is to divide the class into two teams and play some kind of game. You could have the left side of the room against the right side, boys against girls, or each row against all the others. Competition can be used on an individual level as well, by giving points to students for their work. You can give points for any attempt of self-expression. Students enjoy seeing their progress over time. This will keep them motivated, attentive and ready to talk to win the competition.

Following these six tips in your teaching of speaking will make your students change over time. Positive reinforcement, having clear goals and instructions can be used right from the beginning, in every class. using surprise, variety of activities and competition can be added to your lessons slowly, so as not to overwhelm your students. Make one or two small changes in every lesson, and pretty soon your students will untighten their tongue and speak out in English freely to express themselves effectively.


Enjoyed this post? Share it with your networks using social media buttons.


You may also like to subscribe to my blog not only to be notified of my latest posts and publications but also to get my FREE GIFTSTwo of My Featured ELT Guides.

Look down, write your email address, and then click “Subscribe”


Subscribe to our Blog  

English Language Teaching & Testing Guide © 2018 Frontier Theme