Рефераты. Types of tests used in English Language Teaching Bachelor Paper

year giving the students a diagnostic test. Every year the administration

of the school had stemmed a special plan where every teacher was supposed

to write when and how they were going to test their students. Moreover, the

teachers were supposed to analyse the diagnostic tests, complete special

documents and provide diagrams with the results of each class or group if a

class was divided. Then, at the end of the study year the teachers were

demanded to compare the results of them with the final, achievement test

(see in Appendix 1). The author of the paper has used this type of test for

several times, but had never gone deep into details how it is constructed,

why and what for. Therefore, the facts listed below were of great value for


Referring to 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 (1989:6) adds that

diagnostic tests are supposed to spot the students’ weak and strong points.

Heaton (1990:13) compares such type of test with a diagnosis of a patient,

and the teacher with a doctor who states the diagnosis. Underhill

(1991:14.) 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. We believe that the teacher will

intentionally include the material that either is presumed to be taught by

a syllabus or could be a starting point for a course without the knowledge

of which the further work is not possible. Thus, we fully agree with the

Heaton’s comparison where he contrasts the test with a patient’s diagnosis.

The diagnostic 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 (ibid.), which stipulates

that the teachers should be systematic to design the tasks that are

supposed to illustrate the students’ abilities, and they should know what

exactly they are testing. Moreover, Underhill (ibid.) points out that apart

from the above-mentioned the most essential element of the diagnostic test

is that the students should not feel depressed when the test is completed.

Therefore, very often the teachers do not put any marks for the diagnostic

test and sometimes even do not show the test to the learners if the

students do not ask the teacher to return it. Nevertheless, regarding our

own experience, the learners, especially the young ones, are eager to know

their results and even demand marks for their work. Notwithstanding, it is

up to the teacher whether to inform his/her students with the results or

not; however, the test represents a valuable information mostly for the

teacher and his/her plans for designing a syllabus.

Returning to Hughes (ibid.) we can emphasise his belief that this

type of test is very useful for individual check. It means that this test

could be applicable for checking a definite item; it is not necessary that

it will cover broader topics of the language. However, further Hughes

assumes that this test is rather difficult to design and the size of the

test can be even impractical. It means that if the teacher wants to check

the students’ knowledge of Present simple, s/he will require a great deal

of examples for the students to choose from. It will demand a tiresome work

from the teacher to compose such type of the test, and may even confuse the


At that point we can allude to our experience in giving a diagnostic

test in Form 5. It was the class the teacher had worked before and knew the

students and their level rather good. However, new learners had joined the

class, and the teacher had not a slightest idea about their abilities. It

was obvious that the students worried about how they would accomplish the

test and what marks would they receive. The teacher had ensured them that

the test would not be evaluated by marks. It was necessary for the teacher

to plan her future work. That was done to release the tension in the class

and make the students get rid of the stress that might be crucial for the

results. The students immediately felt free and set to work. Later when

analysing and summarizing the results the teacher realized that the

students’ knowledge was purely good. Certainly, there were the place the

students required more practice; therefore during the next class the

students were offered remedial activities on the points they had

encountered any difficulties. Moreover, that was the case when the students

were particularly interested in their marks.

To conclude, we can conceive that interpreting the results of

diagnostic tests the teachers 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 forming syllabus.

3.2 Placement tests

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 programme or a 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, such as 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.

Heaton (ibid.) adheres 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 typically could be

represented in the form of dictations, interviews, grammar tests, etc.

Moreover, according to Heaton (ibid.), the placement test should deal

exactly with the language skills relevant to those that will be taught

during a particular course. If our course includes development of writing

skills required for politics, it is not appropriate to study writing

required for medical purposes. Thus, Heaton (ibid.) presumes that is fairly

important to analyse and study the syllabus beforehand. For the placement

test is completely attributed to the future course programme. Furthermore,

Hughes (ibid.) stresses that each institution will have its own placement

tests meeting its needs. The test suitable for one institution will not

suit the needs of another. 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 level.

At this point we can attempt to compare a placement test and

diagnostic one. From the first sight these both types of tests could look

similar. They both are given at the beginning of the study year and both

are meant for distinguishing the students’ level of the current knowledge.

However, if we consider the facts described in sub-chapter 2.1 we will see

how they are different. A diagnostic test is meant for displaying a picture

of the students’ general knowledge at the beginning of the study year for

the teacher to plan further work and design an appropriate syllabus for

his/her students. Whereas, a placement test is designed and given in order

to use the information of the students’ knowledge for putting the students

into groups according to their level of the language. Indeed, they are both

used for teacher’s planning of the course their functions differ. A

colleague of mine, who works at school, has informed me that they have used

a placement test at the beginning of the year and it appeared to be

relevant and efficient for her and her colleague’s future teaching. The

students were divided according to their English language abilities: the

students with better knowledge were put together, whereas the weaker

students formed their own group. It does not mean discrimination between

the students. The teachers have explained the students the reason for such

actions, why it was necessary – they wanted to produce an appropriate

teaching for each student taking his/her abilities into account. The

teachers have altered their syllabus to meet the demands of the students.

The result proved to be satisfying. The students with better knowledge

progressed; no one halted them. The weaker students have gradually improved

their knowledge, for they received due attention than it would be in a

mixed group.

3.3 Progress test

Having discussed 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 (1996:217), progress test will show the teacher

whether the students have learnt the recently taught material successfully.

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 material.

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.

The authorities of school demand the teachers to conduct progress

tests, as well. However, the teachers themselves decide on the necessity of

applying them. Nevertheless, we can claim that progress test is inevitable

part of the learning process. We can even take a responsibility to declare

that progress test facilitate the material acquisition in a way. The

students preparing for the test look through the material again and there

is a chance it can be transferred to their long-term memory.

Further, we can come to Alderson (ibid.) 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. 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.

The author of the paper basing on her experience agrees with the statement,

for she had noticed that weaker students when they had managed to write

their test successfully became proud of their achievement and started

working better.

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


3.4 Achievement tests

Apart from a progress test the teachers employ another type –

achievement test. According to Longman Dictionary of LTAL (3), an

achievement test is a test, which measures a language someone has learned

during a specific course, study or program. Here the progress is

significant and, therefore, is the main point tested.

Alderson (1996:219) posits that achievement tests are “more formal”,

whereas Hughes (1989:8) 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. He repeats the dictionary defining the

notion of achievement tests, adding just that success of the students,

groups of students, or the courses.

Furthermore, Alderson (ibid.) 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.

At this instant the author of the paper is determined to compare a

progress and achievement test. Again if we look at these two types they

might seem similar, however, it is not so. Drawing on the facts listed

above (see sub-chapter 2.3) we can report that a progress test is typically

used during the course to check the acquisition of an excerpted material.

An achievement test checks the acquisition of the material, as well.

Although, it is far different in its application time. We basically use an

achievement test at the end of the course to check the acquisition of the

material covered during the study year, not bits of it as it is with a

progress test.

Quoting Hughes (ibid.) we can differentiate between two kinds of

achievement tests: final and progress tests. 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 is a well-

known fact that teachers usually are responsible for composing such tests,

and it requires a careful work.

Alternatively, Alderson (ibid.) mentions two usage types of

achievement tests: formative and summative. The notion of a formative test

denotes the idea that the teacher will be able after evaluating the results

of the test reconsider his/her teaching, syllabus design and even slow down

the pace of studying to consolidate the material if it is necessary in

future. Notwithstanding, these reconsiderations will not affect the present

students who have taken the test. They will be applied to the future

syllabus design.

Summative usage will deal precisely with the students’ success or

failure. The teacher will immediately can take up remedial activities to

improve a situation.

Further, Alderson (ibid.) and Heaton (1990:14) 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. Heaton (ibid.) emphasises the

close cooperative work of the teachers as a crucial element in test design.

However, in the school the author of the paper used to work the teachers

did not cooperate in designing achievement tests. Each teacher was free to

write the test that best suits his/her children.

Developing the topic, we can focus on Hughes’ idea that there is an

approach how to design a test; it is called syllabus-content approach. The

test is based on a syllabus studied or a book taken during the course. This

test could be described as a fair test, for it focuses mainly on the

detailed material that the students are supposed to have studied. Hughes

(ibid.) points out that if the test is inappropriately designed, it could

result in unsuccessful accomplishment of it. Sometimes the demands of the

test may differ from the objectives of the course. Therefore, the test

should be based directly on the objectives of the course. Consequently, it

will influence the choice of books appropriate to the syllable and syllable

itself. The backwash will be positive not only for the test, but also for

the teaching. Furthermore, we should mention that the students have to know

the criteria according to which they are going to be evaluated.

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.

3.5 Proficiency tests

The last type of test to be discussed is a proficiency test. Regarding

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