Designing a test is not only choose the most difficult task for students to solve, making a test is a difficult a challenging task because the teacher has to take into account many factors in order to make the test valid and reliable.
First of all, the teacher must establish his/her instructional objectives, the knowledge measured and the learning outcomes to know what hi/she must include in the test. Then making an exhaustive research of items to be included in the test: At this stage items should be revised and edited; some authors suggest that you can make cards with every selected item and at the back of each card the information of the item should be written; for example how many times it has been applied, how was its impact and so on.
- According to Norman E. Gronlund (1985) , these questions can help you to analyze the quality of each item:
–Is the item appropriate for the learning outcome being measured?
It means that if you want definition you should include a short answer format, or if you ask for identification, a multiple choice item can work, so it is very important the format item which you will include in the test.
– Does the knowledge, understanding or thinking skill called forth b y the item match the specific learning outcome and subject-matter content being measured?
The complexity of the item included should match with the students` knowledge in order to make valid the exam. You can not include what you did not teach your students.
– Is the point of the item clear?
Not to include confusing sentences to make students feel confused.
_Is the item free of verbiage?
Not to use a lot of words when writing directions because they should be clear and concrete.
-Is the item of appropriate difficulty?
The level of complexity must be according with the students’ level.
– Does the item have an answer that would be agreed upon by experts?
Sometimes in a multiple choice format there are similar answers so students can get confused with this. So that teacher must be very careful when choose this kind of format.
– Is the item free from technical errors and irrelevant clues?
Sometimes we overlook some clues that are included in the questions so students can guess the answer. And those kinds of clues can be:
-specific determiners (always or never)
-some mechanical features.
-Is the item free from racial, ethnic and sexual bias?
Be careful of the items you include in order to not to hurt or offend students’ feelings.
the items should be arranged in sections by item type. This arrangement requires the fewest sets of directions; it is the easiest for the students because they can retain the same mental set throughout each section; and it facilitates scoring. When two or more type items are included in a test, there is also some advantage in keep the simpler item types together and placing the more complex ones in the test. The most effective method for organizing items in the typical classroom test is to form sections by item type, group items within each section by the learning outcomes measured being this the one we are going to use to arrange this test, and arrange both the sections and the items within sections and the items within sections in ascending order of difficulty (Norman E Gronlund 1985). The amount of detail depends on the students’ level, test`s comprehensiveness, the test`s items complexity, and the students’ experience with the testing procedure use. In preparing the test materials for reproduction, it is important that the items be spaced and arranged so that they can be read, answered, and scored with the least amount of difficulty.
When preparing directions all this factors have to be taken into account:
- Purpose of the test
- Time allowed for answering
- Basis for answering
- Procedure for recording the answer
And finally, when reproducing a test the font, spaces and arrangement could be a key point to make a test of high quality.
As we can see, preparing a test is not an easy task, we must take into account many factors which are necessary in order to create high quality test to measure students` knowledge. Although, it is impossible to represent this knowledge with a number, teachers try to be the most fair regarded this by designing appropriate tests containing the best items in order to reach the intended outcomes.