How to Design a Good Test

Putting together a challenging yet fair test for your students is a difficult task for even the most experienced teacher. So many variables go into choosing the format, creating the questions, and locating the appropriate maps, charts, passages, and documents that some very basic, but very important, factors often go forgotten. Until now…

1)    Give the students confidence right away.

The first question of your test should be relatively easy. The students with test anxiety and those who are unsure of their knowledge will feel their confidence buoyed from getting the first question correct.

2)    Mix it up…

Each test can and should have a mixture of question types. Earlier grades should have a mixture of multiple choice, true/false, and others. Upper grades should blend multiple choice questions, questions with documents, and short answer questions.

3)    …But the format within those question types should remain consistent.

For example, all of the multiple choice questions on your test should have the same amount of choices.

4)    Be chrono-logical.

Students will often recall your lessons and classwork while taking the test. Putting your test questions in the order in which you taught the unit will allow them to cycle through the unit in their mind and hopefully jog their memory.

5)    Search to the ends of the earth for a good question.

Whatever your state assessments may be, there are past tests out there for you to peruse and use.  Find similar assessments from around the country and use their questions. Have a skill that you would like to reinforce on your test? Do an image search for the perfect picture, graph, or chart and create a question around the document. Websites such as HelpTeaching.com give you the ability to create tests from user created content from teachers just like you.

6)    Timing is everything.

It’s better to have your weakest student finish early than to have them not finish at all. Don’t try to pack too many questions into one class period. If there is just too much information to limit the amount of questions, spread out your test over two days, or change your assessment to an essay. Written assignments allow you to assess greater amount of content in one overriding question instead of 25 smaller questions. If you are afraid your higher level students will finish too early or will not be sufficiently challenged, prepare a secondary assignment those who finish early can complete in class and those who do not can finish at home.

Test creation can be a difficult task. A poorly created test can make an well prepared unit finish with a crushing thud, forcing you wait a whole year to rectify those mistakes. Follow the tips above for a smoother testing period. Good luck!

My next post will focus on customizing your tests using the features on HelpTeaching.com.

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3 Responses to “How to Design a Good Test”

  1. […] “How to Design a Good Test” and “Five Essential Thinking Skills to Teach in September” for more tips on creating […]

  2. Adrienne says:

    Very good information for me to pass on to the persons in my department!

  3. franklin says:

    very helpful thank you

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