Grade: all
Subject: other

#3315. Test Making 101

other, level: all
Posted Mon Dec 20 02:44:12 PST 2004 by Marjory Thrash (
Pearl River Community College, Poplarville, MS
Materials Required: none
Activity Time: 10-20 minutes
Concepts Taught: Hints on creating tests

Test Making 101

Description: A test measures student mastery of a particular objective. It should not be a method of punishment, a method of keeping students busy, or a collection of paperwork.

A well made test:
1. Measures the student's understanding of the objective
2. Measures the student's application of the objective
3. Offers multiple opportunities/formats for the student to prove mastery
4. Is based on the instructor's academic honesty (based on what was made available to the student)
5. Is accurate (has a correct key)
6. Is readable and workable by the average student within the time constraints) -- not too long, too short, or too complicated
7. Provides a mix of challenging and basic problems
8. May be honestly graded (via objective answers or via a provided rubric)
9. Is quickly evaluated by the instructor or designated grader

Hints for effective testing:
1. Giving periodic standardized tests improves student capability on high stakes standardized testing.
2. Providing a separate answer sheet speeds grading for multiple page tests.
3. Remember to mark the original "Do not write on this test" if you want to reuse the test form for another class.
4. Cut the edges off the original or mark it with a colored marker to ensure it stays the original.
5. Many students tire during testing -- consider putting the essay questions first instead of last.
6. Discuss essay testing BEFORE giving one. Many students need to see examples of great, acceptable, and ineffective essay answers from your perspective before they feel comfortable with an essay test.
7. Train your students to sign their complete name on tests and to follow the directions. Often college instructors will not grade tests incorrectly done or not signed.
8. In almost all cases, students should try every single question. You may want to insist students do this; refusal to complete a test may be considered insubordination.
9. In most cases, teachers are not required to provide the exact same test for make up testing or retakes; only equivalent testing is required. However, it is safer to stick with the same format (some multiple choice, some short answer, some essay). If the school system experiences high absenteeism, consider having multiple format tests. This is also effective in crowded classrooms with possible cheaters.
10. Avoid confronting cheaters in the classroom. Instead, grade the papers and identify the copied answers. Make a copy for your own files, show the principal, and confront the students privately. Tell them you saw them, that you have evidence, and that administration knows. On the first instance, offer to let each student retake the test. Alternatively, take the best grade of the two, split it, and give each student a half to punish both students. On the second instance, collect the materials again, make the copies, and forward to the principal.
11. If you give short answer, multiple choice, fill in the blank, or true-false tests, create an answer column on one side or the other. Put in only a 1 or 2 space line where the answer should be in the question. This makes the test much easier to grade.
12. When possible, make the question value a multiple of 5 for faster grading.
13. To grade essay questions:
a. Review the rubric.
b. Read several answers without grading them. This will give you a sense of the typical answer.
c. Go back and begin grading. Mark ONLY the items listed on the rubric. If you didn't include spelling, then you can't grade against it.
d. If you take a break from grading, then review the rubric and a few graded answers again.