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Language testing
Testing is a universal feature of social life.
Throughout history people have been put to
the test to prove their capability.

In modern societies such tests have rapidly
developed. (to establish identity)
-sport (drugs testing)

-Law (DNA tests)
      paternity tests
      lie detection tests

-medicine (blood tests)
          cancer screening tests
          hearing and listening tests
Testing is an important area in different 
fields of pure and especially applied

-Testing is a delicate and complex 
responsibility as well.

Why is it a delicate responsibility? 
It is delicate because decisions are going to 
be made on the test results.

Why is it a complex responsibility? 
Testing is complex because it involves 
different fields of study.
It is impossible to have accurate 
 measurement if the test designer
is not aware of the psychological
sociological, methodological and
philosophical schools.

Psychology: is the responsible 
science to define learning and
investigate various variables that
influence learning.
Sociology: is the science , which 
determines and defines the
community of class.

Methodology: determines the 
frameworks for both teaching and

Philosophy defines learning 
strategies and cognitive styles.
Experts believe that teaching and 
testing are the two sides of the
same coin; that is, they are very
closely interrelated.

-Testing itself can be a teaching 
device, it is another step forward.

A good testing is followed by re- 
teachings and re-learnings
Backwash effect (washback effect)
 The effect of the nature of a test on
 teaching and learning.

 -It could be a beneficial effect (positive
 effect) to teaching. When?
 when the test helps teaching and

 -It could be a harmful effect (negative
 effect), when?
 when the test content is at variance with
-A Test refers to any procedure used 
to measure a factor or assess some

- measurement is an instrument 
designed to elicit a specific sample of
an individual’s behavior.

-A test is a tool or an instrument for 
collecting numerical information
(data) on an attribute.
A psychological or educational test is a procedure
designed to elicit certain behavior from which one
makes inferences about certain characteristics of
an individual.

-Test is the only procedure for measuring ability, 
knowledge or performance.

-In general, what distinguishes a test from other 
types of measurement is that it is designed to
obtain a specific sample of behavior.

-Tests are often used for pedagogical purposes, 
either as a means of motivating students to study,
or as a means of reviewing the material taught
       A distinction between
       examination and test
*Sometimes the distinction is made in terms 
of time allowed:
-A typical “examination” lasts for two, 
three, or more hours.
-A typical “test’ lasts for one half to one 
* the distinction may be hierarchical. 
 -A university professor “examines” his 
-A primary school teacher “tests” her nine- 
*The distinction may depend on whether 
assessment is “subjective" (examination)
or “objective” (test)
       Test Battery
(also called battery of test)
A group of several tests of a homogeneous
sort given together to a student or a group
of students to test           their general
-The results of such tests can be combined to
produce a single score.
-Such batteries are used on assumption that
the errors inherent in each separate test will
cancel each other out and the single score
obtained will be maximally valid.
-The best example could be a TOEFL 

-TOEFL :an abbreviation for TEST OF 

According to Baker, a test is a way of 
arriving at a meaningful decision,
therefore, testing is almost always
associated with the making of
              Test Genre
           . Traditional tests 
-Such tests are useful in early stages of 
language learning (Grammar-Translation

-Students memorize many language rules 
and lists of words.

-Such framework contains a great deal of 
writing (composition) and reading

-Test type was mostly in essay format and 
the evaluation of the measurement was
quite subjective.
The multiple-choice format
 Multiple-choice item (MCI) 
 -A test item in which the examinee is presented 
 with a stem (not necessarily a question) along with
 3 to 5 possible answers (options) from which one
 must be selected.

 -The alternatives other than the correct one are 
 referred to as DISTRACTORS.

 -The construction of MCI is difficult and time 

 -But MCI test format can measure four traditional 
 language skills.
The following is a n example of a multiple- 
choice item in which only one option is
There wasn’t……………… the box. 
A. any things =OPTIONS/           
               DISTRATORS         
B. nothing
C. something 
D. Anything =ANSWER/ CORRECT 

 A technique used in both 
 language teaching and language
 testing in which a passage of
 connected discourse is read
 aloud to the students, with
 pauses during which they must
 try to write what they heard as
 accurately as possible.
            Cloze tests
-A technique for measuring reading 

- In a cloze test, words are removed from a 
reading passage at a regular intervals
(usually every 7th word), leaving blanks of a
standard length. The reader must then read
the passage and try to guess the missing

-Providing the deleted words requires 
perceptive and productive skills, knowledge
of lexical and grammatical systems
Screening test (readiness test)

 A type of selection test of which the 
 purpose is to determine whether or not
 students are ready for instruction.

 -Measure the extent to which an individual 
 has achieved a certain degree of maturity or
 acquired certain skills or information
 needed for undertaking some successful
 new learning activities.
a process of quantifying the 
characteristics of persons according
to explicit procedure and rules.
It includes three distinguishing 
1-Quantification     involves     assigning 
numbers, and this distinguishes measures
from   qualitative     descriptions.    Non-
numerical categories or rankings such as
LETTER GRADES(A,B.C…)or labels (for
example, excellent, good, average…) may
also   have      the    characteristics   of
2-Characteristics     are    mental 
attributes       and        abilities,
sometimes called TRAITS, or
CONSTRUCTS.         These     mental
abilities, which can only be
observed      indirectly,    include
characteristics such as aptitude,
intelligence, motivation, fluency in
speaking, and achieving reading
3-Rules and procedures this 
means that the “blind” or
haphazard assignment of
numbers to characteristics of
individuals cannot be
regarded as measurement.
Therefore , quantification
must be done according to
explicit rules and procedures.
* Evaluation is the systematic gathering
of information for the purposes of
decision making.
Evaluation comprises essentially two
1-information, and
2- value judgment or decisions.
The information relevant to evaluation
can be qualitative (non-measurement,
e.g., observations, ratings) or
quantitative (measurement, e.g.,
 The importance of testing
Why do we test? 
1-We test in order to give the learners a 
sense of achievement.
2-to end their dissatisfactions and 
3-to foster learning through diagnosing the 
problematic areas
4-to enhance learning by making the 
learners aware of the course objectives
5-to adjust the learner’s personal 

6-to give promotion. 

7-to show the effectiveness and 
efficiency of instruction, etc.

Tests may gauge the teacher’s ability 
and, in general, they serve a two-fold
instructional purpose: as a guide to
the learners, and a guide to the
     The use of testing
Testing is helpful in two ways:
1- Encouraging and motivating learning
by our self-made exams,
2-Students prepare themselves and
learn the materials.
Repeated preparations enable students
to master the language parts and for
the teacher the analysis of test results
shows weaknesses and strengths
 Standardized tests vs.
  teacher-made tests
Teacher-made tests 
-the teacher determines the content. 
Standardized test 
-the content is decided by the   
curriculum. 
How much to teach and how much to 
test is decided by the syllabus.
2-Directions 
 teacher-made tests 
-the directions are given by the 
teacher, so his/ her students totally
understand what is asked, but the
students in other classes, schools,
etc., may not understand what s/he
Standardized tests 
-the directions follow a uniform 
procedure and are culture free.
Different examinees, from different
schools and nationalities, can
understand them.
3-Norms or standards 
teacher-made tests 
-The norms are local; they are 
determined by the school or a
department in the school and may
be influenced by the teacher’s
taste as well.
standardized tests 
The norms are closely described 
by the experts, to be neither too
low nor too high
-the standards should be 
uniform and clearly defined.

-What expectations and which 
objectives should be achieved,
and what level of proficiency
the learners should attain is
among the factors determined
by the standards.
4-construction procedures 

Teacher-made tests 
- the tests are usually hurriedly 
constructed by a single teacher.
-they are too much dependent on the 
teacher’s intuition, knowledge,
experience, etc.

Standardized tests 
-the tests are constructed by a panel of 
experts in testing after pre-planning and
5-Application range 

Teacher-made tests 
The application range is very narrow (they 
have intra-class usage)

Standardized tests 
The application range of these tests have a 
broader usage
     The history of language
Three eras may be traced: 
1-Intuitive era 
In this era the norms were the teacher’s 
-the method of teaching like the method 
of testing was determined by the
-teachers were authorities in this era, 
therefore tests were subjective. 
-composition and translation tests 
were common and the teachers’ tastes
were greatly influential on the scoring
system on these tests.
-teachers were different, therefore 
tests had different forms and different
responses were possible for the same
-different teachers did not agree a 
definite or clear-cut response.
 2-scientific era
-more objective tests appeared in this era 
-there were some criteria established and 
the teachers had to observe the standards
in test constructing and test scoring.
-the common method of teaching was the 
audio-lingual method.
-linguists were structuralists, so they 
believe in the divisibility of language and
the tests were discrete-point (i.e. different
components were tested in isolation).
-multiple-choice items appeared in this 
  3-communicative era

Tests are supposed to be communicative 

language tests are supposed to test the 
functions and the use of language to see
whether the examinees are able to apply
language as a means of communication.

-communicative tests assess language content 
rather than form. 

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