Category: Testing and Assessment

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.

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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.

How to Prepare Learners for ESL/EFL Exams

Most students who are studying English have to take an exam at the end of their course, others are planning to take a public examination in order to get a certificate which demonstrates their level of English. Whenever there is an exam involved, the teacher should consider doing the following things to prepare students for the exam.

1. Specify the Content and Skills to be Tested.

The biggest problem most teachers find with exams is that they are not aware of the content and skills that must be tested. They think that everything in the syllabus is relevant and can be included in the exam. This is not the case as you don’t need to include every language in the exam. Only specific language skills, active vocabulary and structures must be tested by the exam. Once you’ve identified that, you should start to prepare your students for the exam on them.

2. Give Key Information About the Exam

Make sure your students know exactly how the exam is structured, including the number of questions, the nature of each question and the marks dedicated for it. You can do some past or model exams with the students in the classroom telling them the key information about it.

3. Set a Time Limit

Introduce time limits for the model exams in the classroom. If students are trying to answer a question taken from a past exam, give them a time limit and then take their answers to check so that they will become used to working under pressure. Early on in the course, perhaps, you can give them more time to answer questions, exercises and exams but closer to the final exam, set the same time limit as they will actually have on the exam day.

4. Review and Give More Practice

Ask students to tell you which parts of the exam they feel are hardest for them. You might already be aware of this from having seen their work, but it’s useful if the students themselves recognize the areas they need to work on. Focus on these points of weakness giving students more revisions and practice on these parts.

5. Pre-Teach the Instructions in the Exam

Examinations often include vocabulary in the instructions that isn’t normally used in day-to-day English. Especially with lower levels, don’t assume the students are familiar with exam terminology such as gap fill or transformation. Pre-teach any words that are repeatedly used in instructions and check the students’ understanding.

6. Provide Copies of Past Exam Papers

Most examination boards or publishers provide copies of past exam papers written in the style of the exam. Students will benefit from practicing with these, either in class or at home. If the exam is produced by you or your school, then try to let your students take old versions of the exam or write one yourself that reflects the exam format and give it to students so that they will recognize what the exam will be like.

7. Give Sample and Model Answers

As well as giving the students past exam papers to complete, it’s helpful if you can show them examples of other students’ answers to see how they were graded. Looking at an answer for the writing question, for example, and seeing how it was marked can help the students understand the expectations for the exam. If you don’t have any sample answers, write your own answer to the question to show students what is expected to be the model answer.

8. Train Them to Answer

Many students make mistakes in the exam not because they don’t know the answer but because they don’t know how to answer. For example, in the texts with gaps which students have to fill in. Many students make the mistake of not reading the whole text at first and trying to fill in each gap apart from the others or from the whole meaning of the text, so train your students to read the whole text all the way through first and only then start to complete the gaps.

9. Ask Students to Write Their Own Exam Questions

Have students design exam-type questions for each other. Doing so makes students really understand how an exam is constructed and how questions are written. . Students enjoy playing at being exam-writers and the task makes them really think about various questions and their answers.


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