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Language Test Construction

Revisited (Years 9 and

Baccalaureate Exams :
April 22nd / 29th , 2015
Mr. Ali Souli, ELT Inspector
Mr. Habib Cherni , Teacher Trainer

Rationale behind the

production of the
documents received
Little reference to Ongoing Evaluation

Misinterpretation of the document
Confusion about testing techniques used in
the different components of any classroom

Samples of classroom tests
containing anomalies
( Reading
Comprehension )

Samples of classroom tests

containing anomalies
( language tasks)

9th Form

Ungrammatical items

Year 4 Sec . Ed

Length ( 300 words )

Second Form
Sec. Ed

No balance between vocabulary and

grammar items

.8th Form Basic Ed

Inauthentic and incoherent

First Form Sec.Ed

Bare Infinitive is required

8th Form Basic Ed

? Language or writing

Year 4 sec. Ed

The first sentence is not left integral

8th form Basic Ed

Only 2 items

3rd Form Arts

No lexical items at all

Year 4 Sec . Ed

Font / Copy and paste

Anomalies in writing tasks

Year 4 Sec. Ed Arts

Too many notes

.9th Form Basic Ed

Too many notes

7th Form

Inadequate genre

Year 4 Sec. Ed

Number of lines + audience + Criteria

Year 4 Sec. Ed

Font / Copy and paste

General issues
Test Items writers should :

Have a clear rationale for each suggested

task / question
Vary the themes in the reading
comprehension , the language exercises
and the writing tasks
Give clear and concise instructions that
are familiar to the test takers and
accessible to the average pupil .

Test Items writers should avoid

Depressing and shocking themes in texts/

paragraphs and tasks suggested.

Time consuming tasks
Repetition or overuse of a question type
Materials taken from coursebooks and
commercial , extracurricular workbooks
livres parascolaires

:Specific issues : Reading Comprehension

Test item writers should consider the following

points :
The length of the text / paragraphs
The source of the text / paragraphs
The topics / themes (relevant , recent , accessible ,

conveying universal values )

6 or 7 questions for Arts branch
5 or 6 questions for sciences branch

Language exercises:Key Principles

Test item writers should

leave the first sentence integral to set the context
Spread items . Do not overload one or two sentences
with test items
Strike a balance between tenses and forms
Avoid ungrammatical items
Suggest bare inf /root/ base form in tense / form
exercises as a rule .
Each lexical item should be found somewhere in the
teaching materials in one of the official coursebooks
in use

Writing tasks
: Test Items writers should
Avoid overloading tables / biography data
with many details and notes
In the productive task , suggest a topic that is
related to the curriculum and should interest
and motivate the pupil to write ( the task
should not lend itself to rote learning )
Suggest a task which is manageable within
allotted time ( specify the number of lines
required )

?Is the cat going up or down