Question Types to Test Your Students’ English Skills

As a teacher of English, you need to test your students’ English periodically to know to what extent they learned the language. Learning English should include mainly learning vocabulary and grammar. In addition, you should test their reading comprehension and writing skill. If you want your test to be complete and comprehensive, your test should include a listening activity and a speaking task. Here are some suggestions for the questions you may include in your test:

Vocabulary

To test knowledge of vocabulary, you can ask students to:

  1. Write words which relate to common topics such as family, work , school, jobs, …etc.
  2. Use the appropriate word from a list to fill in the space in a context.
  3. Match the words with their meanings.
  4. Choose the right word from certain options to complete a context.

Grammar

To test knowledge of grammar, you can ask students to:

  1. Choose the right word or phrase from certain options to complete a structure.
  2. Change a sentence from tense to another using a clue.
  3. Rearrange words to make a grammatically correct sentence.

Reading

To test reading skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Read for skimming to answer questions on the main points of a reading passage.
  2. Read carefully to answer some questions on details.
  3. Summarize a long reading passage in two or three sentences.
  4. Extract some information from a short text to fill in a table.
  5. Read a story and then put the main events in the right order.

Writing

To test writing skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Write accurately certain amount of words about certain topic using correct sentence structure, word order and connectors.
  2. Write different kinds of written texts like essay, letter, email, story, short paragraph, etc. following the rules of writing each kind.
  3. Use some given guided words to write about a certain topic.

Listening

To test listening skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Listen for specific information in listening texts.
  2. Listen to short dialogues and tell the meanings of some words in context.
  3. Follow a listening short text and show understanding by doing the instructions included in the text.

Speaking

To test speaking skills, you can ask students to:

  1. Speak clearly using appropriate stress and intonation.
  2. Pronounce words so that they can be understood.
  3. Describe pictures or other visual material connecting ideas together accurately and with a range of language.

Quick Guidelines for Writing Effective Test Questions

It is a challenging task for teachers to write test questions, especially when a test is being used to measure certain learning outcomes. Take into account the following guidelines before you begin writing test questions.                                                     

True/False questions

True/False questions include high probability of guessing the correct response so it is better to avoid them and find a more substantial way to ask the questions. If you think of using this kind of questions, you must not include them any of the qualifying words such as “sometimes” or “always” because these words provide a clue to the correct answer. True/False questions are best used for pre-tests to help identify what the learner doesn’t know.

MCQs

Multiple choice questions or MCQs are less subject to guessing. In addition, they can be used to assess higher-level thinking. The stems and solutions or alternatives must be constructed effectively by:

  1. Stating the stems clearly presenting a single, clear problem or question in each stem.
  2. Avoiding negative phrases or irrelevant material in the stems.
  3. Avoiding clues to the right answer and using “all of the above” or “none of the above” in the alternatives.
  4. ensuring that distractions or alternatives are reasonable and presented in logical order.

Essay Questions

Essay questions are and should be used mainly to measure higher-level thinking skills such as analyzing, synthesizing and making connections. In these questions, clear guidelines should be provided about the topic, grading or marking so that students can be well aware of how to write the essay. Students should be provided with a lot of practice on writing several short essays rather than on a long one to allow them to write on a variety of topics.