What is testing? It’s an activity whose purpose is to determine what learners can do or know about something. What is a test? It’s a formal instrument to measure what candidates can do or know about something.
I. Specific guidelines : The way the test is designed and organized. II. Moderation of mark scheme : The way in which teachers set the score of the test. III. Standardization of examiners : The way in which examiners guarantee a common criteria for correction.
Moderation of tasks : Searching for feed-back. Revision made by other teachers.
Level of difficulty : The presentation of tasks in a test should be arranged from easy to difficult. Starting with the most difficult task will lead the weakest learners to soon give up. An item is easy if 75% of students answer it correctly, it’s average if 50% of the students answer it correctly, and if 25% of students can’t answer the item, then it is considered difficult (pilot test).
Discrimination : A test should allow candidates at different levels to perform according to their abilities. A variety of tasks ranging from easy to difficult should point out the difference(s) between learners (good and weak). The number of difficult tasks should be limited and go at the end of the test.
Appropriate sample : The test should present a representative sample of the objectives, activities and tasks taught or used in the classroom.
Overlap : It occurs when content is assessed more than once. It should be avoided as reassessment of content will present an inappropriate sample, but also to prevent visual and mental overload from students.
Clarity of tasks : Instructions should be simple and unambiguous, providing a clear indication of what the task demands from the student. Instructions should never be more difficult than the task.
Questions and texts: The selection of questions and texts will depend on the purpose and the formats chosen by the designer of the test. Again, the difficulty should not lie in the question but in the task. Conversely, questions should not be too simple, obvious or answerable from world knowledge.
Timing : give students a reasonable time to complete the test, since too little time will evidence unreliable results. Students should be aware of the time set to complete each part of the test. The time of the test should reflect the importance and difficulty of what is being assessed. Teachers can pilot the test with a group of a similar level or he/she can even relate to similar evaluative experiences in the classroom, to determine the appropriate time agreed to complete the test.
Layout : presentation, printing, spacing, font size, style, formats (a,b,c… I,II,III,IV… 1,2,3…) The layout should be consistent. Single parts should be arranged on the same page.
Bias : it can result from experiential, cultural or knowledge-based factors. Avoid items or topics inclined to give an unfair advantage to a particular group of students. Also avoid tasks or issues so obscure that candidates might have no frame of reference into which process and comprehend what is being asked.