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Test-writing guidelines

Good assessment practices lie at the heart of good teaching. To evaluate your own tests, carefully consider each of these questions:

  1. Is this test congruent with the instruction that has been given?
  2. Are clear instructions and a sample question provided for each item type?
  3. Are all of the items stated clearly and simply?
  4. Can the facts tested for be justified in terms of their relationship to the main concepts of the unit?
  5. Does this test go well beyond the factual recall level, including some opportunities to work at the application, analysis and evaluation levels?
  6. Have the payoffs for test-wiseness been reduced to a minimum?
  7. Is this test written at the appropriate reading level?
  8. Is this test free from bias and stereotypes?
  9. Does this test create multiple opportunities for diverse learners to display what they know and understand?
  10. Where possible, have you tried to replicate the format of your state's standardized tests to give your students extra practice with the special challenges presented by that test?
  11. Will this test be a stimulating and enjoyable experience for the students?
  12. Has this test been created collaboratively or at least reviewed by one or more colleagues in your discipline?

For help thinking about how to write specific item types, see the links below:

Writing good fill-in-the-blank items
Writing good true-false items
Writing good multiple choice items
Writing good matching items

A test in need of revision

For an excellent Website on writing better objective tests, see the Alabama Professional Development Modules at this address: http://web.utk.edu/~mccay/apdm/index.htm