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Terminology for testing and assessment

Progress or formative test

It is administered during a course, aiming at finding out how well students have grasped what has been taught in the course so far. Test content is based on teaching content.

Final achievement or summative test

It is administered at the end of the course, aiming at finding out if students have achieved the objectives set out by the syllabus.

Diagnostic test

It is administered at the beginning of a course to find out what the students know and don't know. It is more finely tuned than a placement test. The content reflects what students know or will need to know at this particular level.

Proficiency test

It focuses on what student are able to do in a foreign language, regardless of any teaching programme. It is used to assess whether a student meets the general standard.

Placement or entry test

It is used to find out what a learner's level is before deciding which course or level s/he should follow.

Content validity

It refers to a test testing what it is supposed to test, being it either a range or a representative selection os skills, structures, etc to be tested.

Construct validity

It refers to a test testing what it is supposed to test and nothing else e.g: if reading the instructions requires skills above learner's level, the test may lack construct validity.

Face validity

It refers to a test appearing to test what it is supposed to test in the eyes ol the learner.

Test reliability

It refers to the test giving consistent results, e.g.: if the same student takes the same test on different occasions, being in the same level, he should get the same results.

Scorer reliability

It refers to the test receiving the same marks from different markers or scores..e.g.: multiple choice, cloze tests.


It means it is possible to carry out the test.

Backwash or washback effect

It refers to the effect the test will have on the teaching programme that leads up to it.

Objective and subjective testing techniques in terms of marking

Objective - quick to mark and don't even need to be marked by a teacher; Subjective - are easier to design but have to be marked by a teacher, as it involves a lot of decision making about the quality and acceptability of answers.

Discrete item test and integrative test

Discrete - assess knowlodge of individual language items; Integrative - includes various components of the skill

Holistic and analytic scoring

Holistic - when a single score is assigned to writing or speaking samples on the basis of a global impressionistic assessment of learners performances; Analytic - a method of scoring where writing or speaking skills is divided into different components and marks aswarded to each one.

Direct and indirect test

Direct - designed to approximate authentic language target use situation; Indirect - example: gap fill to test one aspect of writing.

Can do statements

Descriptors of language ability which reflect language competencies (i.e. ability to use language) rather than what learners know about the language.

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