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February 27, 2008

Teacher Development - Writing Test Specifications

Hello readers,

If you've ever been asked to write a test for your students, you know what a daunting task this can be. No test is perfect - not even international tests like the IELTS or the TOEFL, but what can you do to ensure that you create a decent test?

First of all, you will ideally be given the test specifications. Unfortunately, ...

... this doesn't always happen.

Therefore, you will either want to make sure that you find someone who can give you the specifications or decide on them yourself.

Here are some things to think about:

1. Content
a) Operations
b) Types of text
c) Addresses of texts
d) Length of text
e) Topics
f) Readability
g) Structural range
h) Vocabulary range
i) Dialect, accent, style
j) Speed of processing

2. Structure, timing, medium/channel and techniques
a) Test structure
b) Number of items
c) Number of passages
d) Medium/channel
e) Timing
f) Techniques

3. Criteria levels of performance
a) Accuracy
b) Appropriacy
c) Range
d) Flexibility
e) Size

4. Scoring procedures
a) Rating scale
b) Raters

(Taken from: Hughes, 2003: Testing for Language Teachers)

Once you have your test specifications, then writing the test will be ten times easier. A good way to check that it's usable is to have a friend take the test. Obvious errors like typos, grammar problems, or confusing rubrics will more than likely be pointed out to you.

I hope that helps!

Until next time ...

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*Looking for more articles that spotlight Teacher Development in the ESL industry? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, and a Material Development Manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is an Editor for Garnet Publishing in Reading, England. Carol holds a BA in Communications from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, and a CELTA, and has just finished her MA TESOL course at Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at February 27, 2008 07:12 AM

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