Testing is for

-- assessing the attainment of teaching objectives;
-- getting feedback about where the students are;
-- helping the students review what has been learned;
-- identifying areas of difficulty and problem;
-- giving the students a sense of progress and achievement;
-- motivating the students;

Testing is not for

-- punishing students;
-- replacing instruction;
-- encouraging competition among students;
-- increasing pressure for learning;

Types of Tests

Achievement test -- a test which measures how much of a language someone has learned with reference to a particular course of study or program of instruction.
Proficiency test -- a test which measures someone's general level of language mastery.
Standardized test -- a test (a) which has been developed from tryouts and experimentation to ensure that it is reliable and valid, (b) for which norms have been established, and (c) which provides uniform procedures for administering and for scoring the test.
Diagnostic test -- a test which is designed to show what skills or knowledge a learner knows and doesn't know.
Prognostic test -- a test which is designed to predict how well one is likely to do in a language course.
Placement test -- a test which is designed to place students at an appropriate level in a program or course.
Discrete-point test -- a language test which measures knowledge of individual language items, such as a grammar test which has different sections on tenses, adverbs, and prepositions.
Integrative test -- is a test which requires a learner to use several language skills at the same time, such as a dictation test, because it requires the learner to use knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension.
Criterion referenced test -- a test which measures a student's performance according to a particular standard or criterion which has been agreed upon.
Norm referenced test -- a test which is designed to measure how the performance of a particular student or group of students compares with the performance of another student or group of students whose scores are given as the norm.

What is a good test?

Validity -- the degree to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure.
Reliability -- the degree to which a test gives consistent results. (test and scorer reliability)
Discrimination -- the degree to which a test can distinguish testees of different proficiency or achievement levels.
Practicality (feasibility) -- the degree to which a test can be designed and administered within the means of available resources, such as financial limitations and time constraints.

Types of Test Items

Alternate response item -- one in which a correct response must be chosen from two alternatives, e.g., True/False.
Fixed response item -- one in which the correct answer must be chosen from among several alternatives, e.g., multiple-choice.
Free response item -- one in which the student is free to answer a question as he or she wishes without having to choose from among alternative provided, e.g., composition.
Structured response item -- one in which some control or guidance is given for the answer, but the students must contribute something of their own. e.g., I (go) ____ to the market for some fruit.

 

(Definitions mostly from Richards et al., 1985)