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Features of a good test
Miercuri, 08 August 2012 17:18



                                                                                                           Prof. Teclu Adriana

                                                                                  Liceul Teoretic “Emil RacoviţăGalaţi


            Evaluation of the students’ achievements is a very important part of the teaching process for the responsible teacher. That is why, in order to judge the effectiveness of any test, it is sensible to lay down criteria against which the test can be measured. There are three features of crucial importance which you should take into consideration when planning to write your own test or choose from the testing material available for classroom use: validity, reliability and practicality.

             Keywords: evaluation, test, planning, validity, reliability, practicality.


It is well known that tests are used for assessing students in the classroom. Unfortunately, nowadays many teachers use them just to mark their students, tests taking the shape of isolated gapped sentences that students have to fill in, rewrite or translate from English into Romanian or vice versa. We should evaluate our students in such a way that it enhances further learning.

            A good test should have a number of features. There are three very important which all teachers should bear in mind before creating a test or choosing it from test books: validity, reliability and practicality.

            Validity is the extent to which test scores can be considered a true reflection of the underlying ability. In other words, a test is valid if it tests what it is supposed to test.

Content validity refers to what goes into the test. We have to decide on the content of a test according to what we want to test. First, we have to draw up the content specifications, a list that helps the teacher ensure that he/she assesses language areas and skills in a balanced mode. If we score short written answers to a listening test for spelling and grammar, then it is not necessarily a valid test of listening because we are scoring the wrong thing.

Face validity is concerned with what students and teachers think of the test. Formal discussions and questionnaires are the means by which face validity is measured. For example, a test which consisted of only three multiple-choice items would not convince students of its face validity.

Predictive validity refers to the students’ future ability to use the language outside the educational system, that is their ability to use the language actively, functionally and strategically , to deal with real-world, communicative situations.

           Reliability is the extent to which test results are consistent and accurate, and therefore dependable. A student who takes a test at the beginning of the semester and at its end will record different results, but these differences must show differences in his/her skills and not inaccuracies in the test. Reliability is enhanced by making the test instructions absolutely clear, restricting the scope for variety in the answers and making sure that test conditions remain constant.

           Practicality is the extent to which a test is practicable in terms of the resources needed. When we write a test we have to be realistic. There are a few questions we will have to ask ourselves if we want to prepare appropriate tests: what equipment do we need (CD player, OHP)? Do we need a special arrangement of the furniture in the classroom? How long it will take to mark the test? How long it will take our students to solve it? How many photocopies will we need?

           Last but not least, we should all keep in mind that testing should concentrate on enabling the students to show what they can do and it should be an interesting learning experience.



Bălan, R., In - Service Distance Training Course for Teachers of English, Polirom, Iaşi, 2003.

Harmer, J., The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman, London, 2007.

Stănişoara, M., Interactive English Language Training Course for Students and Not Only, Aramis, Bucureşti, 2003.

Vizental, A., Strategies of Teaching and Testing English as a Foreign Language, Polirom, Iaşi, 2008.


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Ultima actualizare în Miercuri, 08 August 2012 17:36

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