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?    

16 Recommendations for Preparing a Good Test

1- Determine the purpose of the test.

2- Define the content area to be tested.

3- Choose and prepare appropriate and relevant items for the test.

4- Build your questions to match your pupils’ ability.

5- The amount of questions should suit the allotted time.

6- Printing should be clear. No handwritten exams.

7- Instructions should be clear and in understandable terms.

8- Arrange items from easiest to most difficult to reduce stress and encourage less able pupils to answer ( Gradation of questions).

9- No ambiguous questions. Avoid ambiguity and deluding words.

10- Questions should include different parts of the syllabus and not focus on certain lessons.

11- Accurate grading is very important.

12- Model answers should be written on a separate sample of the test paper.

13- All acceptable or possible answers should be included or written in the model answers.

14- Test different aspects ( reasoning / observation / comprehending / deducing ).

15- Test cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills that are included in the units.

16- Involve varied questions ( objective / subjective ).

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.