Characteristics of a good test. Characteristics of a good test
A test's usefulness can be determined by considering the following qualities of the test: Reliability, Validity, Simplicity and Practicality. 1 Reliability :
A good test should give consistent results. For example, if the same group of students took the same test twice within two days - without reflecting on the first test before they sat it again - they should get the same results on each occasion. If they took another similar test, the results should be consistent. If two groups who were demonstrably alike took the test, the marking range would be the same.
A test is considered reliable if it is taken again by the same students under the same circumstances and the result is almost the same, taking into consideration that the time between the test and the retest is of reasonable length.
2 Validity: A test is valid when it measures what it is supposed to measure. When we design our tests, we need to be sure that we are not asking SS to do things which are completely different from the activities they have taken part in during our lessons. If a test is for checking SSís reading ability, then it should check reading skills but not e.g. writing or listening ability.
3 Simplicity: Simplicity means that the test should be written in a clear , correct and simple language , it is important to keep the method of testing as simple as possible while still testing the skill you intend to test . (Avoid ambiguous questions and ambiguous instructions).
4 Practicality: Practicality is the relationship between the resources that will be required in design, development, and use of the test and the resources that will be available for these activities. The resources are human resources, material resources, and time. This quality focuses on how the test is conducted. Based on this definition, practicality can be measured by the availability of the resources required to develop and conduct the test. Therefore, our judgment of the language test is whether it is practical or impractical. A test that is expensive is impractical. A test of language proficiency that takes a student 10 hours to complete is also impractical. A test that takes a few minutes for a student to take and several hours for examiner to correct is impractical for a large number of testers and one examiner if results are expected within a short time. A test that can be scored only by computer is impractical if the test takes place a thousand miles away from the nearest computer. The value and quality of a test are dependent upon such nitty-gritty, practical consideration.
15.Test types. Test types
Different tests serve different purposes. All tests may be divided into 2 large categories: Standardized tests and Non - Standardized tests
Standardized tests: A large proportion of normal testing is standardized. A standardized test is one that is administered and scored in a consistent matter to ensure legal defensibility. Test scores are interpreted with regards to a norm or criterion. The norm or criterion may be established by statistical analysis of a large number of subjects. Examples of such tests are: UNT, IELS, TOEFL.
Non - Standardized tests are informal testing. These tests are classroom tests and are usually teacher-made. These classroom tests assess students' learning over a period of time or after a particular unit of study.
Placement tests: placing new students in the right class in a school or first-year students at the beginning of the year according to their level of knowledge is facilitated with the use of placement tests. Usually based on syllabus and materials the students will follow and use once their level has been decided on, they test grammar and vocabulary knowledge, students' productive and receptive skills.
Proficiency tests: proficiency tests give a general picture of a student's knowledge and ability (rather than measure progress). They are frequently used as stages people have to reach if they want to be admitted to a foreign university, get a job, or obtain some kind of certificate. A proficiency test is not limited to any one course, curriculum or single skill in the language. Proficiency tests have traditionally consisted of standardized multiple-choice items on grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, aural comprehension and sometimes of a sample of writing. Such tests often have validity weaknesses: they may confuse oral proficiency with literacy skills, or they may confuse knowledge about a language with ability to use a language; a number of other weaknesses may be pointed out. A rather typical example of a standardized proficiency test is the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). It is used by nearly 1000 institutions of higher education in the United States as an indicator of a prospective studentís ability to undertake academic work in an English medium or IELTS used in Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.
Aptitude Tests: Finally, we need a test which predicts a person's future success. A foreign language aptitude testis designed to measure a person's capacity or gen≠eral ability to learn a foreign language and to be successful in that undertaking. Aptitude tests are considered to be independent of a particular foreign language, predicting success in the acquisition of any foreign language.
Progress or achievement tests: Most classroom tests take this form; these tests are designed to measure learners' language and skill progress in relation to the syllabus they have been following.
Achievement tests only work if they contain the language material which the students are familiar with. This does not mean that in a reading test, for example, we give them texts they have seen before, but it means that they should be given similar texts and familiar task types. If students are faced with completely new material, the test will not measure the learning that has been taking place, even though it can still measure general language proficiency.
Achievement tests at the end of a term should reflect progress, not failure.
They also enable students to assess the degree of success of teaching and learning and to identify areas of weakness & difficulty. Progress tests can also be diagnostic to some degree.
Diagnostic tests: while placement tests are designed to show how good a student's English is in relation to a previously agreed system of levels, diagnostic tests can be used to expose learner difficulties, gaps in their knowledge, and skill deficiencies during a course. Thus, when we know what the problems are, we can do something about them. A diagnostic test is designed to diagnose a particular aspect of a particular language. A diagnostic test in pronunciation might have the purpose of determining which particular phonological features of the language pose difficulty for a learner. Some proficiency tests can serve as diagnostic tests by isolating and analyzing certain sets of items within the test.