К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012
Автор: Слямханова Мадина Кажмухановна
Test - is a short
time, technically easy set of tasks, which can be scored and is an indicator of
learners’ habits, skills and level of knowledge [1, p. 32]. According to the definition,
we may enumerate the following characteristics of a test:
- it is a
- it gives an
opportunity to assess habits and skills in a language of any number of pupils
at a definite period of time;
- it must be
- the results of a
test are objective, as tests must be valid and reliable.
tests allow the teacher to administer them as often as it is necessary for
diagnosis and stimulating pupils’ learning. The forms of tasks in tests should
be quite specific. Tests are compiled in such a way that they involve a
stimulus on the part of the teacher and the response on the part of the pupil
tested. One of the distinguishing peculiarities of teaching foreign languages
is the usage of a great variety of check exercises.
We can cite the
idea of Hughes who emphasizes that we can check the progress, general or
specific knowledge of students [3, p. 5]. This claim will directly lead us to
the statement that for each of the purposes there is a special type of testing.
According to some scholars (Thompson, 2001; Hughes, 1989; Alderson, 1996;
Heaton, 1990; Underhill, 1991), there are five traditional categories or types
of tests according to the aim and time of conducting: proficiency tests,
achievement tests, diagnostic tests, prognostic tests, and placement tests. Before
writing a test it is vital to think about what it is, you want to test and what
its purpose is:
- a proficiency
test is one that measures a candidates’ overall ability in a language, it isn't
related to a specific course;
- the most widespread
are achievement tests, which are held after learning some material at a certain
period of time. An achievement test tests the students' knowledge of the
material that has been taught;
- a diagnostic
test highlights the strong and weak points that a learner may have in a
- a prognostic
test attempts to predict how a student will perform on a course;
- a placement test
is a test that places the students at an appropriate level in a curriculum or a
There are of
course many other types of tests. It is important to choose elicitation techniques
carefully when you prepare one of the aforementioned tests.
It is wise to
start with that type of testing, for it is typically the first step each
teacher, even non-language teacher, takes at the beginning of a new school
Longman Dictionary of LTAL (106) diagnostic tests is a test that is meant to
display what the student knows and what s/he does not know. The dictionary
gives an example of testing the learners’ pronunciation of English sounds.
Moreover, the test can check the students’ knowledge before starting a
particular course. Hughes adds that diagnostic tests are supposed to spot the
students’ weak and strong points [3, p.6]. Heaton compares such type of tests
with a diagnosis of a patient, and the teacher with a doctor who states the
diagnosis [2, p.13]. Underhill adds that a diagnostic test provides the student
with a variety of language elements, which will help the teacher to determine
what the student knows or does not know [5, p.14].
test displays the teacher a situation of the students’ current knowledge. This
is very essential especially when the students return from their summer
holidays (that produces a rather substantial gap in their knowledge) or if the
students start a new course and the teacher is completely unfamiliar with the
level of the group. Hence, the teacher has to consider carefully about the
items s/he is interested in to teach. This consideration reflects Heaton’s
proposal, which stipulates that the teacher should be systematic to design the
tasks that are supposed to illustrate the students’ abilities, and they should
know what exactly they are testing.
To conclude, we
can conceive that interpreting the results of diagnostic tests the teacher
apart from predicting why the student has done the exercises the way s/he has,
but not the other, will receive a significant information about his/her group
s/he is going to work with and later use the information as a basis for the
Another type of
test we are intended to discuss is a placement test. Concerning Longman
Dictionary of LTAL again (279-280) we can see that a placement test is a test
that places the students at an appropriate level in a program or course. This
term does not refer to the system and construction of the test, but to its
usage purpose. According to Hughes (1989:7), this type of test is also used to
decide which group or class the learner could be joined to. This statement is
entirely supported by another scholar, Alderson (1996:216), who declares that
this type of test is meant for showing the teacher the students’ level of the
language ability. It will assist to put the student exactly in that group that
responds his/her true abilities.
that the following type of testing should be general and should purely focus on
a vast range of topics of the language not on just specific one. Therefore, the
placement test could typically be represented in the form of dictations,
interviews, grammar tests, etc. [2, p.14]
according to Heaton, the placement test should deal exactly with the language
skills relevant to those that will be taught during a particular course. Thus,
Heaton presumes that it is fairly important to analyze and study the syllabus
beforehand, for the placement test is completely attributed to the future
course program [2, p.15]. Likewise, the matter of scoring is particularly
significant in the case of placement tests, for the scores gathered serve as a
basis for putting the students into different groups appropriate to their
two types of tests that are usually used at the beginning, we can approach the
test typically employed during the study year to check the students’
development. We will speak about a progress test. According to Alderson,
progress test will show the teacher whether the students have learnt the
recently taught material successfully [5, p.117]. Basically, the teacher
intends to check certain items, not general topics covered during the school or
study year. Commonly, it is not very long and is determined to check the recent
material. Therefore, the teacher might expect his/her learners to get rather
high scores. The following type is supposed to be used after the students have
learnt either a set of units on a theme or have covered a definite topic of the
language. It will display the teacher whether the material has been successfully
acquired or the students need additional practice instead of starting a new
A progress test
will basically display the activities based on the material the teacher is
determined to check. To evaluate it the teacher can work out a certain system
of points that later will compose a mark. Typically, such tests do not
influence the students’ final mark at the end of the year.
Further, we can
come to Alderson who presumes that such type of testing could function as a
motivating fact for the learners, for success will develop the students’
confidence in their own knowledge and motivate them study further more
vigorously [5, p.120]. In case, there will be two or three students whose
scores are rather low, the teacher should encourage them by providing support
in future and imply the idea that studying hard will allow them to catch up
with the rest of the students sooner or later.
However, if the
majority of the class scores a rather low grade, the teacher should be
cautious. This could be a signal that there is either something wrong with the
teaching or the students are low motivated or lazy.
Apart from a
progress test the teachers employ another type – achievement test. According to
Longman Dictionary of LTAL , an achievement test is a test, which measures a
language someone has learned during a specific course, study or program [4,
p.134]. Here the progress is significant and, therefore, is the main point
that achievement tests are “more formal” [4, p.129], whereas Hughes assumes
that this type of tests will fully involve teachers, for they will be
responsible for the preparation of such tests and giving them to the learners
[3, p.167]. He repeats the dictionary defining the notion of achievement tests,
adding just that success of the students, groups of students, or the courses.
Alderson conceives that achievement tests are mainly given at definite times of
the school year. Moreover, they could be extremely crucial for the students,
for they are intended either to make the students pass or fail the test [5, p. 130].
Quoting Hughes we
can differentiate between two kinds of achievement tests: final and progress
tests [3, p.168]. Final tests are the tests that are usually given at the end
of the course in order to check the students’ achieved results and whether the
objectives set at the beginning have been successfully reached. Further Hughes
highlights that ministries of education, official examining boards, school
administration and even the teachers themselves design these tests. The tests
are based on the curriculum and the course that has been studied. We assume,
that it is a well- known fact that teachers usually are responsible for
composing such tests, and it requires a careful work.
and Heaton stipulate that designing an achievement test is rather
time-consuming, for the achievement test is basically devised to cover a broad
topic of the material covered during the course. In addition, one and the same
achievement test could be given to more than one class at school to check both
the students’ progress and the teachers’ work. At that point it is very essential
to consider the material covered by different classes or groups. You cannot ask
the students what they have not been taught [3, p.19].
To conclude we
shall state again that achievement tests are meant to check the mastery of the
material covered by the learners. They will be great helpers for the teacher’s
future work and will contribute a lot to the students’ progress.
The last type of
test to be discussed is a proficiency test. Regarding Longman Dictionary of
LTAL proficiency test is a test, which measures how much of a language a person
knows or has learnt. It is not bound to any curriculum or syllabus, but is
intended to check the learners’ language competence [4, p.92]. Although, some
preparation and administration was done before taking the test, the test’s
results are what being focused on. The examples of such tests could be the
American Testing of English as Foreign Language test (TOEFL) that is used to
measure the learners’ general knowledge of English in order to allow them to
enter any high educational establishments or to take up a job in the USA.
Hughes gives the
similar definition of proficiency tests stressing that training is not the
thing that is emphasized, but the language. He adds that ‘proficient’ in the
case of proficiency tests means possessing a certain ability of using the
language according to an appropriate purpose [3, p.10]. It denotes that the
learner’s language ability could be tested in various fields or subjects (art,
science, medicine, etc.) in order to check whether the learner could suit the
demands of a specific field or not.
believes that the proficiency tests affect learners’ more in negative way, than
in positive one [3, p.12].
To summarize we
can claim that there are different types of tests that serve for different
purposes. Moreover, they all are necessary for the teacher’s work, for them,
apart from a proficiency test, could contribute to successful material
acquisition by learners.
There are many
elicitation techniques that can be used when writing a test. Using the right
kind of question at the right time can be enormously important in giving us a
clear understanding of students' abilities, but we must also be aware of the
limitations of each of these task or question types so that we use each on
appropriately [2, p.16].
The main part of
so called objective tests is made up in technique of multiple choice.
Multiple-choice type is considered to be the most effective of the objective
1) He likes to lie
2) He often says
things that are not true.
3) He is a sly
4) He often lays
things in wrong places.
can be used to test most things such as grammar, vocabulary, reading, listening
etc. but you must remember that it is still possible for students to just
'guess' without knowing the correct answer.
Complete the second sentence so that it has
the same meaning as the first.
'Do you know what the time is, John?' asked
Dave asked John __________ (what)
_______________ it was.
are particularly effective for testing grammar and understanding of form. This
wouldn't be an appropriate question type if you wanted to test skills such as
reading or listening.
exchange ______________ to see how much your money is worth.
Gap-fills can be
used to test a variety of areas such as vocabulary, grammar and are very
effective at testing listening for specific words.
Test can be made
up also on matching. So, for example, pupils can be suggested to match
adjectives from the left column to the nouns in the right one. Of course
technique of matching is applicable to a limited number of tests.
Match the word
on the left to the word with the opposite meaning.
are most often used to test vocabulary.
text by adding a word to each gap.
This is the
kind _____ test where a word _____ omitted from a passage every so often. The
candidate must _____ the gaps, usually the first two lines are without gaps.
Cloze tests can be
very effective for testing grammar, vocabulary and intensive reading.
In true-false type
of tests pupils determine whether answers are correct or wrong. On the special
sheets of paper they write “W” (wrong), “R” (right) opposite the number of
appropriate task. The priority of this type of test is in easiness of checking,
but while conducting the test do not exclude the possibility for casual
guessing what essentially decreases the objectivity
Decide if the
statement is true or false.
England won the
world cup in 1966 T/F
This question type
is mostly used to test listening and reading comprehension.
Why did John
steal the money?
mistakes in the sentence and correct them.
Ipswich Town was the better team on the night.
Errors must be
found and corrected in a sentence or passage. It could be an extra word,
mistakes with verb forms, words missed, etc. One problem with this question
type is that some errors can be corrected in more than one way [2, p.30].
is useful for testing grammar and vocabulary as well as readings and listening.
There are of
course many other elicitation techniques such as translation, essays,
dictations, ordering words/phrases into a sequence and sentence construction
(He/ go/ school/ yesterday).
It is important to
ask yourself what exactly you are trying to test, which techniques suit this
purpose best and to bear in mind the drawbacks of each technique.
1. Bynom, A. Testing terms. / Bynom, A. - English Teaching professional
Forum July. 2001. Issue Twenty – p. 95-99.
2. Heaton J. B Classroom Testing / Heaton J. B. -
Longman London1990 – p.10-20.
3. Hughes A. Testing for Language Teachers/ Hughes A.
- Cambridge University Press 1989. - p.
4. Richards J. Language Teaching and Applied
Linguistics/ Richards J. - Longman Dictionary. Longman1992. – 134 p.
5. Underhill N. Testing Spoken Language/ Underhill N.
- Cambridge University Press 1987. - p. 198.
К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012