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Basic Tips & Guidelines You Must Know To Make EFL Tests More Productive

Creating a good language test demand great care and responsibility on the part of the teachers. Most teachers want only to puzzle their students with tests. It isn’t right because tests should be created well to reflect the real level of students, not teachers’ own expectations.

So, the test, described as good and productive, must be characterized by three important characteristics: reliable, valid and practical.

The Three Main Characteristics That Make EFL Tests More Productive

1. Reliable

A reliable test produces the same result under the same circumstances.

2. Valid

A valid test tests what it is supposed to test.

3. Practical

A practical test is as economical as possible in time and in cost.

Four More Necessary Characteristics Of A Good Language Test

Additionally, there are four more necessary characteristics of a good language test. The test must:

  • Be based on what students should know and can do according to the learning outcomes of the syllabus.
  • Enable the teacher to find out which parts of the language program cause difficulty for the class.
  • Provide opportunities for students to show their ability to perform certain language tasks without including any traps for them.
  • Be designed to be a valuable teaching & learning tool, that’s to benefit the teachers to adjust their teaching to match students’ achievement levels and to benefit students to learn from their mistakes.

Teachers charged to prepare an  EFL test should put in their minds that each test is not an end in itself, but a means to reach effective language mastery.

Guidelines For Making EFL Tests More Productive

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. By considering the following guidelines, teachers can make testing more productive and not a negative experience for learners:

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

Guidelines For Preparing Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

  • Select the words to be tested.
  • Get the right kind of sentence (called the stem) to put each word in.
  • Choose several wrong words (called distractors) to put the right word with.
  • Finally, prepare clear and simple instructions.


  • Make sure the distractors are the same form of the word tested.
  • Be sure you don’t give away the right answer through grammatical cues.
  • Multiple-choice items should be about the same level of difficulty.
  • Be sure not to include more than one correct answer.


Leave a comment identifying the weakness in each of the following MCQs.

Vocabulary Items:

1. Do you need some …………….. to write on?

  • paper.
  • pen.
  • table.
  • material.

2- The mouse ……………………. quickly away.

  • little.
  • very.
  • baby.
  • ran.

3. I think he will be here in an …………………….

  • hour.
  • soon.
  • weekend.
  • day after.

4. They ………………….  me to get up right away.

  • asked.
  • needed.
  • wanted.
  • told.

Grammar Items:

1. If I had a new coat, …………………………

  • I’d show it to everyone.
  • I’ve shown it to everyone.
  • I showed it to everyone.
  • I’ll show it to everyone.

2. They just bought …………………….. furniture.

  • several.
  • a few.
  • some.
  • with.

For more knowledge on preparing a good language test and writing effective test items, you can get my book:

“Writing Effective Test Items: The Definitive Guide”.

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 the 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.

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.

Get the Book Now

One More Thing!

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