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Types of tests used in English Language Teaching Bachelor Paper

                            University of Latvia
                         Faculty of Modern Languages
                             English Department

                  Types of Tests Used in English Language.

                               Bachelor Paper

                                                            An?elika Ozerova


      Declaration of academic Integrity

      I hereby declare that this study is my own and does  not  contain  any
      unacknowledged material from any source.

      12 May, 2004


      The present paper attempts to investigate various types of  tests  and
   their application in the language classroom. The theoretical  part  deals
   with the basic data about testing,  the  comparison  of  such  issues  as
   assessment and valuation, reasons for testing, types of  tests,  such  as
   diagnostic, progress, achievement, placement and proficiency tests;  test
   formats and ways of testing.
      It relates theory to practice  by  analyzing  two  proficiency  tests:
   TOEFL and CFC tests. They are carefully discussed and  compared  to  find
   any similarities or  differences  in  their  structure  and  design.  The
   conclusions drawn are based on the theory and analyses of the tests.  The
   data obtained  indicate  that  the  both  tests  though  being  sometimes
   different  in  their  purpose,  design  and  structure,  are  constructed
   according to the universally accepted pattern.

                              Table of Contents

      Introduction …………………………………………………........................1
      Chapter 1
      What is test?……………………………………………………………………3

      Chapter 2
      2.1 Inaccurate tests……………...…………………………………………….7
      2.2 Validity……………………..……………………………………………..8
      2.3 Reliability………….. ……………………………………………………11
      Chapter 3
      3.1 Diagnostic tests………………………………. ………………………….13
      3.2 Placement tests…………………………...……………………………….15
      3.3 Progress tests……………………………………………...........................17
      3.4 Achievement tests………………………..……………………………….18
      3.5 Proficiency tests…………………………………………………………..20
      Chapter 4
       4.1 Direct and Indirect testing…..…………………………………………....22
      4.2 Discrete point and integrative testing……………………………………..24
      4.3 Criterion-refernced and Norm-referenced testing…………………………25
      4.4 Objective and Subjective testing...………………………………………..26
      4.5 Communicative language testing…………………………………………26
      Chapter 5
      5.1 Multiple choice tests………………………………………………………29
      5.2 Short answer tests…………………………………………………………32
      5.3 The Cloze tests and Gap-filling tests……………………………………..33
      5.4 C-Test……………………………………………………………………..35
      5.5 True/false items……………………………………………………………36
      5.6 Dictation…………………………………………………………………...36
      5.7 Listening Recall……………………………………………………………38
      5.8 Testing Grammar through Error-recognition Items……………………….38
      5.9 Controlled Writing…………………………………………………………39
      5.10 Free Writing………………………………………………………………40
      5.11 Test Formats Used in Testing Speaking Skills…………………………..41
      Chapter 6
      Analysis of the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Cambridge
      Certificate test according to test design criteria………………………………..43
       Theses. ………………………………………………………..........................57


      Among all words used in a  classroom  there  is  the  only  word  that
usually makes the students shudder: “test”. There is  hardly  a  person  who
would claim  that  s/he  favours  tests  and  finds  them  very  motivating.
However, tests  cannot  be  avoided  completely,  for  they  are  inevitable
elements of learning process. They are included into curriculum  at  schools
and are to check the students’ level of knowledge and what they are able  to
do; they could be accomplished at the beginning of the  study  year  and  at
the end of it; the students could be tested after working on new topics  and
acquiring new vocabulary. Moreover, the students are to face  the  tests  in
order to enter any foreign university or reveal the level of  their  English
language skills  for  themselves.  For  that  purpose  they  take  specially
designed tests that are Test of English as  a  Foreign  Language,  or  TOEFL
test (further in the text) and CFC  (further  in  the  text),  or  Cambridge
First Certificate. Although, these tests can sometimes serve  for  different
purposes and are unrelated, they are sometimes quite common in their  design
and  structure.  Therefore,  the  author  of  the  paper   is   particularly
interested in the present research, for she assumes it  to  be  of  a  great
significance not only for herself, but also  for  the  individuals  who  are
either involved in the field or just want to learn more about TOEFL and  CFC
tests, their structure,  design  and  application.  Therefore,  the  present
research will display various aspects of the theory  discussed,  accompanied
with the practical part vastly analyzed.
      Thus, the goal of the present research is to investigate various types
of test formats and ways of testing, focusing particularly on TOEFL and  CFC
tests, in order to see how the theory  is  used  and  could  be  applied  in
   The hypothesis is as follows: Serving for almost similar purpose, however
being sometimes different in their design and structure, the TOEFL  and  CFC
tests are usually constructed according to the accepted universal pattern.
      The enabling objectives are as follows:
 .  To  review  literature  on  the  nature  of  tests  in  order  to   make
   theoretically well-motivated discussions on the choice of testing types;
 . To analyse the selected types of tests, such as TOEFL and CFC tests;
 . To draw relevant conclusions.
      Methods of Research:
1) Analytical and selective study of the theory available;
2) Juxtaposition of the  ideas  selected  from  theory  and  tested  against
   practical evidences;
3) Drawing conclusions.
 . Selecting and adapting appropriate tests types, such as TOEFL and CFC, to
   exemplify the theory.

      The paper  consists  of  six  chapters  each  including  sub-chapters.
   Chapter 1 discusses the general data about  tests.  Chapter  2  describes
   reliability and validity. Chapter 3 focuses on various  types  of  tests.
   Chapter 4 deals with ways of testing. Chapter 5 speaks on  four  language
   skills. Chapter 6 offers the practical part of the paper.

Chapter 1
What is test?

      Hicks (2000:155) considers that the role of tests is very  useful  and
important, especially in language learning. It is a means to show  both  the
students and the teacher how much the learners have learnt during a  course.
The author of the paper agrees with the statement, for she believes that  in
order to see whether the students have acquired the material and are  making
constant  progress,  the  teacher  will  inevitably  have  to  test  his/her
learners. It does  not  mean  that  a  usual  test  format  with  a  set  of
activities will be used all the time. To check the students’  knowledge  the
teacher can apply a great range of  assessment  techniques,  including  even
the self-evaluation technique  that  is  so  beloved  and  favoured  by  the
students. Moreover, according to Heaton (1990:6), tests  could  be  used  to
display the strength and weaknesses of the teaching  process  and  help  the
teacher improve it. They can demonstrate what should be paid more  attention
to, should be worked on and practised. Furthermore, the tests  results  will
display the students their weak points,  and  if  carefully  guided  by  the
teacher, the students will be even able to take any remedial actions.
      Thompson (Forum, 2001) believes that students  learn  more  when  they
have tests. Here we can both agree and disagree. Certainly, preparing for  a
test, the student has to study the material that is supposed to  be  tested,
but often it does not mean that such type of learning will  obligatory  lead
to acquisition and full understanding of  it.  On  the  opposite,  it  could
often lead to the pure  cramming.  That,  consequently,  will  result  in  a
stressful situation the student will find her/himself before or  during  the
test, and the final outcome will be  a  complete  deletion  of  the  studied
material. We can base that previous statement on our  own  experience:  when
working at school, the author of the present research had  encountered  such
examples for many times.
      However, very often the tests can facilitate the students’ acquisition
process, i.e.:  the  students  are  to  be  checked  the  knowledge  of  the
irregular verbs forms. Being constantly tested by means  of  a  small  test,
they can learn them  successfully  and  transfer  them  to  their  long-term
memory, as well. Although, according to  Thompson  tests  decrease  practice
and instruction time. What he means is that the students are as if  limited;
they are exposed to practice of a new  material,  however,  very  often  the
time implied for it is strictly recommended  and  observed  by  a  syllabus.
That denotes that there will be certain requirements when  to  use  a  test.
Thus, the students find themselves in definite frames that the teacher  will
employ. Nevertheless, there could be advantages that tests can  offer:  they
increase learning, for the students are supposed to study harder during  the
preparation time before a test.
      Thompson (ibid.) quotes  Eggan,  who  emphasises  the  idea  that  the
learners study hard for the classes they are tested thoroughly. Further,  he
cites Hilles, who considers that the students want and expect to be  tested.
Nonetheless, this statement has been rather generalized. Speaking about  the
students at school, we can declare that there is hardly a student  who  will
truly enjoy tests and their procedure. Usually, what we will see  just  sore
faces when a test is being mentioned.  According  to  Thompson,  the  above-
mentioned idea could be applied to the  students  who  want  to  pass  their
final exams or to get  a  certificate  in  Test  of  English  as  a  Foreign
Language (TOEFL) or First Certificate (FCE). Mostly this concerns adults  or
the students who have their own special  needs,  such  as  going  abroad  to
study or work. This again supports the idea that motivation factor  plays  a
significant role in the learning process.
      Moreover, too much of testing could be  disastrous.  It  can  entirely
change the students’ attitude towards learning the language,  especially  if
the results are usually dissatisfying and decrease their motivation  towards
learning and the subject in general.
      Furthermore, as Alderson (1996:212) assumes, we should not forget that
the tests when administered receive less support from the teacher as  it  is
usually during the exercises in a usual  language  classroom.  The  students
have to cope themselves; they cannot rely on the  help  of  the  teacher  if
they are in doubt.  During a usual procedure when doing  various  activities
the students know they can encounter the teacher’s help if they require  it.
They know the teacher is always near and ready to assist, therefore, no  one
is afraid to make a mistake and try to take a chance to  do  the  exercises.
However, when writing a test and being left alone  to  deal  with  the  test
activities, the students panic and forget everything they knew  before.  The
author of the paper believes that first what the teacher  should  do  is  to
teach the students to overcome their fear of tests and secondly,  help  them
acquire the ability to work independently believing in their own  knowledge.
That ability according to Alderson is the main point, “the core meaning”  of
the test. The students should be given confidence.  Here  we  can  refer  to
Heaton  (1990:7)  who  conceives,  supported  by   Hicks,   that   students’
encouragement is a vital element  in  language  learning.  Another  question
that may emerge here is how to  reach  the  goal  described  above,  how  to
encourage the students. Thus, at this point  we  can  speak  about  positive
results. In fact, our success motivates us to study further,  encourages  us
to proceed even if  it  is  rather  difficult  and  we  are  about  to  lose
confidence in ourselves. Therefore, we can speak about the tests as  a  tool
to increase motivation. However, having failed for  considerable  number  of
times, the student would definitely oppose the  previous  statement.  Hence,
we can speak about assessment and evaluation as  means  for  increasing  the
students’ motivation.
      Concerning Hicks (2000:162), we  often  perceive  these  two  terms  –
evaluating and  assessment  –  as  two  similar  notions,  though  they  are
entirely different. She states that when we assess our students we  commonly
are interested in “how and how much our students have learnt”, but  when  we
evaluate  them  we  are  concerned  with  “how  the  learning   process   is
developing”. These both aspects are of great importance for the teacher  and
the students and should be  correlated  in  order  to  make  evaluation  and
assessment “go hand in hand”. However, very frequently, the teachers  assess
the  students  without  taking  the  aspect  of  evaluation  into   account.
According to Hicks, this assessment is typically applied when  dealing  with
examinations that take place either at the  end  of  the  course  or  school
year. Such assessment is known as achievement test. With the help  of  these
tests the teacher receives a clear picture of  what  his/her  students  have
learnt and which level they are comparing with the rest of  the  class.  The
author of the paper agrees that achievement tests  are  very  essential  for
comparing how the students’ knowledge has changed during  the  course.  This
could be of a great interest not only for the  teacher,  but  also  for  the
authorities of the educational establishment the  teacher  is  employed  by.
Thus, evaluation of the learning process is  not  of  the  major  importance
here. We can speak about evaluation when we  deal  with  “small”  tests  the
teachers use during the course or studying year. It  is  a  well-known  fact
that these tests are employed in order to check how the learning process  is
going on, where the students are, what difficulties they encounter and  what
they are good at. These tests  are  also  called  “diagnostic”  tests;  they
could be of a great help for the teacher: judging from the  results  of  the
test, analysing them the teacher will  be  able  to  improve  or  alter  the
course and even introduce  various  innovations.  These  tests  will  define
whether the teacher can proceed with the new material or  has  to  stop  and
return to what has not  been  learnt  sufficiently  in  order  to  implement
additional practice.
      With respect to Hicks, we can display some of her useful and practical
ideas she proposes for the teachers to use in the  classroom.  In  order  to
incorporate evaluation together with assessment she suggests  involving  the
students directly into the process of  testing.  Before  testing  vocabulary
the teacher can ask the students to guess what kind of activities  could  be
applied in the test. The author of the paper  believes  that  it  will  give
them an opportunity to visage how they are going to be tested, to  be  aware
of and wait for, and the most important, it will reduce  fear  the  students
might face. Moreover, at the end of each test the students  could  be  asked
their reflections: if there was a multiple choice, what  helped  them  guess
correctly, what they used for that – their schemata or just  pure  guessing;
if there was a cloze test - did they use guessing from the context  or  some
other skills, etc. Furthermore, Hicks emphasises  that  such  analysis  will
display the students the way they are tested and  establish  an  appropriate
test for each student. Likewise, evaluation  will  benefit  the  teacher  as
well. S/he not only will be able to discover the students’ preferences,  but
also find out why the students have failed a particular type of activity  or
even the whole test. The evaluation will  determine  what  is  really  wrong
with the structure or design of  the  test  itself.  Finally,  the  students
should be taught to evaluate the results of the test. They should  be  asked
to spot the places they have failed and together with  the  teacher  attempt
to find out what has particularly caused the difficulties.  This  will  lead
to consolidation of the material and may be even  to  comprehension  of  it.
And again the teacher’s role is very essential, for the students  alone  are
not able to  cope  with  their  mistakes.  Thus,  evaluation  is  inevitable
element of assessment if the teacher’s aim is to design  a  test  that  will
not make the students fail, but  on  the  contrary,  anticipate  the  test’s
       To conclude we can add alluding to Alderson (1996:212) that the usual
classroom test should not be too complicated  and  should  not  discriminate
between the levels of the students. The test should test  what  was  taught.
The author of the paper has the same opinion,  for  the  students  are  very
different and the level of  their  knowledge  is  different  either.  It  is
inappropriate to design a test of advanced  level  if  among  your  learners
there are those whose level hardly exceeds lower intermediate.
      Above all, the tests should take the learners’  ability  to  work  and
think into account,  for  each  student  has  his/her  own  pace,  and  some
students may fail just because they  have  not  managed  to  accomplish  the
required tasks in time.
      Furthermore, Alderson assumes (ibid.) that  the  instructions  of  the
test should be unambiguous. The students should clearly see  what  they  are
supposed and asked  to  do  and  not  to  be  frustrated  during  the  test.
Otherwise, they will spend more time on asking the teacher to  explain  what
they are supposed to do, but not on the completing of the tasks  themselves.
Finally, according to Heaton (1990:10) and Alderson (1996:214), the  teacher
should not give the tasks studied  in  the  classroom  for  the  test.  They
explain it by the fact, that  when  testing  we  need  to  learn  about  the
students’ progress, but not to check what they remember. The author  of  the
paper concurs the idea and assumes that the one of the aims of the  test  is
to check whether the students are able to apply their knowledge  in  various
contexts. If this happens, that means they have acquired the new material.

Chapter 2

Reliability and validity

1. Inaccurate tests

   Hughes (1989:2) conceives that one of the reasons why the tests  are  not
favoured is that they measure not exactly what they  have  to  measure.  The
author of the paper supports the idea that  it  is  impossible  to  evaluate
someone’s true abilities by tests. An individual might be a  bright  student
possessing a good knowledge of English, but, unfortunately, due  to  his/her
nervousness may fail the  test,  or  vice  versa,  the  student  might  have
crammed the tested material  without  a  full  comprehension  of  it.  As  a
result, during the test s/he is just capable  of  producing  what  has  been
learnt by tremendous efforts,  but  not  elaboration  of  the  exact  actual
knowledge of the student (that,  unfortunately,  does  not  exist  at  all).
Moreover, there could be even more disastrous  case  when  the  student  has
cheated and used his/her neighbour’s work. Apart  from  the  above-mentioned
there could be other factors that could influence an  inadequate  completion
of the test (sleepless night, various personal and health problems, etc.)
   However, very often the test  itself  can  provoke  the  failure  of  the
students to complete it. With the respect to the linguists, such  as  Hughes
(1989) and Alderson (1996), we are able to state that  there  are  two  main
causes of the test being inaccurate:
     . Test content and techniques;
     . Lack of reliability.
   The first one means that the test’s design should  response  to  what  is
being tested. First, the test must content the exact material that is to  be
tested. Second, the activities, or techniques, used in the  test  should  be
adequate and relevant to what is being tested. This denotes they should  not
frustrate the learners, but,  on  the  contrary,  facilitate  and  help  the
students write the test successfully.
   The next one denotes that one and the same test given at a different time
must score the same points. The results should not be different  because  of
the shift in time. For example, the test cannot be called  reliable  if  the
score gathered during the first time the test was completed by the  students
differs from that administered for the second time, though knowledge of  the
learners has not changed at all. Furthermore, reliability can  fail  due  to
the improper design of a test (unclear  instructions  and  questions,  etc.)
and due to the ways it is scored. The teacher may evaluate various  students
differently taking  different  aspects  into  consideration  (level  of  the
students, participation, effort, and even personal  preferences.)  If  there
are two markers, then definitely there will be  two  different  evaluations,
for each marker will possess his/her own criteria of marking and  evaluating
one and the same work. For example, let us mention testing speaking  skills.
Here one of the makers will probably treat grammar as the  most  significant
point to be evaluated, whereas the other will emphasise  the  fluency  more.
Sometimes  this  could  lead  to   the   arguments   between   the   makers;
nevertheless, we should never forget that still the main figure we  have  to
deal with is the student.

2.2.  Validity

   Now we can come to one of the important aspects of  testing  –  validity.
Concerning Hughes, every test should be reliable  as  well  as  valid.  Both
notions are very crucial elements of testing.  However,  according  to  Moss
(1994) there can be validity without reliability, or  sometimes  the  border
between these  two  notions  can  just  blur.  Although,  apart  from  those
elements, a good test should be efficient as well.
   According to Bynom (Forum, 2001), validity deals with what is tested  and
degree to which a  test  measures  what  is  supposed  to  measure  (Longman
Dictionary, LTAL). For example, if  we  test  the  students  writing  skills
giving them a composition test on Ways of Cooking,  we  cannot  denote  such
test as valid, for it can be argued that  it  tests  not  our  abilities  to
write, but the knowledge of cooking as  a  skill.  Definitely,  it  is  very
difficult to design a proper test  with  a  good  validity,  therefore,  the
author of the paper believes that it is very essential for  the  teacher  to
know and understand what validity really is.
   Regarding Weir (1990:22), there are five types of validity:
      . Construct validity;
      . Content validity
      . Face validity
      . Wash back validity;
      . Criterion-related validity.

   Weir (ibid.) states that construct validity is a theoretical concept that
involves other types of validity. Further, quoting  Cronbach  (1971),  Weird
writes that to construct or plan a test you should  research  into  testee’s
behaviour and mental organisation. It is the ground on  which  the  test  is
based; it is the starting  point  for  a  constructing  of  test  tasks.  In
addition, Weird displays the Kelly’s idea (1978) that test  design  requires
some theory, even if it is indirect exposure to it. Moreover, being able  to
define the theoretical construct at the beginning of  the  test  design,  we
will be able to use it when dealing  with  the  results  of  the  test.  The
author  of  the  paper  assumes  that  appropriately  constructed   at   the
beginning, the test will not provoke any difficulties in its  administration
and scoring later.
   Another type of validity is content validity. Weir  (ibid.)  implies  the
idea  that  content  validity  and  construct  one  are  closely  bound  and
sometimes even overlap with each other. Speaking about content validity,  we
should emphasise that it is inevitable element  of  a  good  test.  What  is
meant is that usually duration  of  the  classes  or  test  time  is  rather
limited, and if we teach a  rather  broad  topic  such  as  “computers”,  we
cannot design a test that would cover  all  the  aspects  of  the  following
topic. Therefore, to check the students’ knowledge we have  to  choose  what
was taught: whether it was a specific vocabulary or various texts  connected
with the topic, for it  is  impossible  to  test  the  whole  material.  The
teacher should not pick up tricky pieces that  either  were  only  mentioned
once or were not discussed in the classroom at all, though belonging to  the
topic. S/he should not forget that the  test  is  not  a  punishment  or  an
opportunity for the teacher to show the students that they are less  clever.
Hence, we can state that  content  validity  is  closely  connected  with  a
definite item that was taught and is supposed to be tested.
   Face validity, according to  Weir  (ibid.),  is  not  theory  or  samples
design. It is how the examinees  and  administration  staff  see  the  test:
whether it is construct and content  valid  or  not.  This  will  definitely
include debates and discussions about a test; it will involve the  teachers’
cooperation and exchange of their ideas and experience.
   Another type of validity  to  be  discussed  is  wash  back  validity  or
backwash. According to Hughes (1989:1) backwash is the effect of testing  on
teaching and learning process. It  could  be  both  negative  and  positive.
Hughes believes that if the test is considered to be a significant  element,
then preparation to it will occupy the most of the time and  other  teaching
and learning activities will be ignored. As  the  author  of  the  paper  is
concerned this is already  a  habitual  situation  in  the  schools  of  our
country,  for  our  teachers  are  faced  with  the  centralised  exams  and
everything they have to do is to prepare their students to them.  Thus,  the
teacher  starts  concentrating  purely  on  the  material  that   could   be
encountered in the exam papers alluding to the examples taken from the  past
exams. Therefore, numerous  interesting  activities  are  left  behind;  the
teachers are concerned just with  the  result  and  forget  about  different
techniques that could be introduced and later  used  by  their  students  to
make the process of dealing with the exam tasks  easier,  such  as  guessing
form the context, applying schemata, etc.
   The problem arises here when the objectives of the course done during the
study year differ from the objectives of the test. As a result we will  have
a negative backwash, e.g. the students were taught to write a  review  of  a
film, but during the test they are asked to write  a  letter  of  complaint.
However, unfortunately, the teacher has not planned and taught that.
   Often a negative backwash may be caused  by  inappropriate  test  design.
Hughes further in his book speaks about multiple-choice activities that  are
designed to check writing skills of the students. The author  of  the  paper
is very confused by that, for it is unimaginable how writing an essay  could
be tested with the help of  multiple  choices.  Testing  essay  the  teacher
first of all is interested in the students’ ability to apply their ideas  in
writing, how it has been done, what language  has  been  used,  whether  the
ideas are supported  and  discussed,  etc.  At  this  point  multiple-choice
technique is highly inappropriate.
   Notwithstanding, according to Hughes apart  form  negative  side  of  the
backwash there is the positive backwash as well. It could  be  the  creation
of an entirely new course designed especially for the students to make  them
pass their final exams. The test given in a form of final exams imposes  the
teacher to re-organise the course, choose appropriate books  and  activities
to achieve  the  set  goal:  pass  the  exam.  Further,  he  emphasises  the
importance of partnership between  teaching  and  testing.  Teaching  should
meet the needs of testing. It could be understand in the following way  that
teaching should correspond the demands of the test. However, it is a  rather
complicated work, for according to the knowledge of the author of the  paper
the teachers in  our  schools  are  not  supplied  with  specially  designed
materials that could assist them in their preparation the  students  to  the
exams. The teachers are just given vague instructions and are  free  to  act
on their own.
   The last type that could be discussed is criterion-related validity. Weir
(1990:22.) assumes that it is connected with test scores  link  between  two
different performances of the same test: either older  established  test  or
future criterion performance. The author of the paper  considers  that  this
type of validity is closely connected  with  criterion  and  evaluation  the
teacher uses to assess the test. It could mean that the teacher has to  work
out definite evaluation system and, moreover, should explain what she  finds
important and worth evaluating and why. Usually the  teachers  design  their
own system; often these are points that the students can  obtain  fulfilling
a certain task. Later the points are gathered and counted for  the  mark  to
be put. Furthermore, the teacher can have a special table  with  points  and
relevant marks. According to our knowledge, the language teachers decide  on
the criteria together during a special meeting devoted to  that  topic,  and
later they keep to it for the whole study year. Moreover, the  teachers  are
supposed to make his/her students acquainted with  their  evaluation  system
for the students to be aware what they are expected to do.

3. Reliability

   According to Bynom  (Forum,  2001)  reliability  shows  that  the  test’s
results will be similar and will not change if one and the  same  test  will
be given on various days. The author of the paper is of the same  mind  with
Bynom and presumes the reliability to be the one of the key  elements  of  a
good test in general. For, as it has  been  already  discussed  before,  the
essence of reliability is that when the students’ scores  for  one  and  the
same test, though given at different periods  of  time  and  with  a  rather
extended interval, will be approximately the same. It will not only  display
the idea that the test is well organized, but will denote that the  students
have acquired the new material well.
   A reliable test, according to Bynom, will contain  well-formulated  tasks
and not indefinite questions; the student will know what exactly  should  be
done. The test will always present ready examples at the beginning  of  each
task to clarify what should be done. The students  will  not  be  frustrated
and will know exactly what they are asked to perform. However, judging  form
the personal experience, the author of the paper has  to  admit,  that  even
such hints may confuse  the  students;  they  may  fail  to  understand  the
requirements and, consequently, fail to complete the  task  correctly.  This
could  be  explained  by  the  fact  that  the  students  are   very   often
inattentive, lack patience and try to accomplish the  test  quickly  without
bothering to double check it.
   Further, regarding to Heaton (1990:13), who states that the test could be
unreliable if the two different markers  mark  it,  we  can  add  that  this
factor should be accepted, as  well.  For  example,  one  representative  of
marking team  could  be  rather  lenient  and  have  different  demands  and
requirements, but the other one could appear to be too strict and would  pay
attention to any detail. Thus, we  can  come  to  another  important  factor
influencing the  reliability  that  is  marker’s  comparison  of  examinees’
answers. Moreover,  we  have  to  admit  a  rather  sad  fact  but  not  the
exceptional one that the maker’s personal attitude towards the testee  could
impact his/her evaluation. No one has to  exclude  various  home  or  health
problems the marker can encounter at that moment, as well.
   To summarize, we can say that for a good  test  possessing  validity  and
reliability is not enough. The test should be practical, or in other  words,
efficient. It should be easily understood by the examinee, ease  scored  and
administered,  and,  certainly,  rather  cheap.  It  should  not  last   for
eternity, for both examiner and examinee  could  become  tired  during  five
hours non-stop testing process. Moreover, testing the students the  teachers
should be aware of the fact that together with checking their knowledge  the
test can influence the students negatively. Therefore,  the  teachers  ought
to design such a test that it could encourage the students, but not to  make
them reassure in their own abilities. The test should be a  friend,  not  an
enemy. Thus, the issue of validity and  reliability  is  very  essential  in
creating a good test. The  test  should  measure  what  it  is  supposed  to
measure, but not the knowledge beyond  the  students’  abilities.  Moreover,
the test will be a true indicator  whether  the  learning  process  and  the
teacher’s work is effective.

Chapter 3
Types of tests

      Different scholars (Alderson, 1996; Heaton, 1990; Underhill, 1991)  in
their researches ask the similar  question  –  why  test,  do  the  teachers
really need them and for what purpose. Further, they all agree that test  is
not the teacher’s desire to catch the students  unprepared  with  what  they
are not acquainted; it is also not the motivating factor  for  the  students
to study. In fact, the test is a request for information and possibility  to
learn what the teachers did not know about their  students  before.  We  can
add here that the test is important for the students, too, though  they  are
unaware of that. The test is supposed to  display  not  only  the  students’
weak points, but also their strong sides. It could act as  an  indicator  of
progress the student is gradually making learning  the  language.  Moreover,
we can cite the idea of Hughes (1989:5) who emphasises  that  we  can  check
the progress, general or specific  knowledge  of  the  students,  etc.  This
claim will directly lead  us  to  the  statement  that  for  each  of  these
purposes there is a special type of  testing.  According  to  some  scholars
(Thompson, 2001; Hughes, 1989;  Alderson,  1996;  Heaton,  1990;  Underhill,
1991), there are four traditional categories or types of tests:  proficiency
tests, achievement tests, diagnostic tests, and placement tests. The  author
of the paper, once being a teacher, can claim that she  is  acquainted  with
three of them and has frequently used them in her teaching practice.
      In the following sub-chapters we are determined to  discuss  different
types of tests and if possible to apply our own experience in using them.

3.1. Diagnostic tests

      It is wise to start our discussion with that type of testing,  for  it
is typically the first step each teacher, even non-language  teacher,  takes
at the beginning of a new school year. In the establishment  the  author  of
the paper was working it was one of the main rules  to  start  a  new  study
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
Longman Dictionary of LTAL (292) proficiency test is a test, which  measures
how much of a language a person knows or has learnt. It is not bound to  any
curriculum or syllabus, but is intended  to  check  the  learners’  language
competence. Although, some preparation and administration  was  done  before
taking the test, the test’s results are what being focused on. The  examples
of such tests could be the American Testing of English as  Foreign  Language
test (further in the text TOEFL) that is  used  to  measures  the  learners’
general knowledge of English in order  to  allow  them  to  enter  any  high
educational establishments  or  to  take  up  a  job  in  the  USA.  Another
proficiency test is Cambridge First Certificate test  that  has  almost  the
same aim as TOEFL.
      Hughes (1989:10) gives the similar  definition  of  proficiency  tests
stressing that training is  not  the  thing  that  is  emphasised,  but  the
language. He adds that ‘proficient’ in the case of proficiency  tests  means
possessing  a  certain  ability  of  using  the  language  according  to  an
appropriate purpose. It denotes that the learner’s  language  ability  could
be tested in various fields or subjects (art, science,  medicine,  etc.)  in
order to check whether the learner could suit  the  demands  of  a  specific
field or not. This could refer to TOEFL  tests.  Apart  from  TOEFL  we  can
speak about Cambridge First Certificate test, which is general and does  not
concern any specific field. The aim of this test is to  reveal  whether  the
learners’ language abilities have reached a certain standard set.  The  test
could be taken by anyone who is interested in testing the level of  language
knowledge. There are  special  tests  levels,  which  can  be  chosen  by  a
candidate. If a candidate has passed the exam s/he can take another  one  of
a different level. However, these entire tests are not free of  charge,  and
in order to take it an individual has to pay for them.
      Regarding Hughes (ibid.) who supposes that  the  only  similar  factor
about such tests that they are not based on any courses,  but  are  intended
to measure the candidates’ suitability for a certain post or course  at  the
university, we can add that in order to pass these tests a candidate has  to
attend special preparatory courses.
       Moreover, Hughes (ibid.) believes that the proficiency  tests  affect
learners’ more in negative way, than in positive one.
      The author of the paper both  agrees  and  does  not  agree  with  the
Hughes’ proposed statement. Definitely, this  test  could  make  the  testee
depressed and  exhausted  by  taking  a  rather  long  test.  Moreover,  the
proficiency tests are rather impartial; they are not testee-friendly.
      However, there is a useful factor amongst the  negative  ones.  It  is
preparation to proficiency tests, for  it  involves  all  language  material
starting from grammar  finishing  with  listening  comprehension.  All  four
skills are being practised during the preparation  course;  various  reading
task and activities  have  been  incorporated;  writing  has  been  stressed
focusing on all possible types of essays, letters,  reviews,  etc.  Speaking
has been practiced as well. The whole material  has  been  consolidated  for
many times.
      To summarize we can claim that there are different types of tests that
serve for different purposes. Moreover,  they  all  are  necessary  for  the
teacher’s work, for them, apart from a proficiency  test,  could  contribute
to successful material acquisition by learners.

Chapter 4

Ways of testing

      In this chapter we will attempt to discuss various  types  of  testing
and if possible compare them. We will start with the most general  ones  and
move to more specific and detailed ways of testing.

4.1 Direct and indirect testing

      The first types of testing we are intended to discuss are  direct  and
indirect testing. First, we will try to define each of  them;  secondly,  we
will endeavour to compare them.
      We will commence our discussion with direct testing that according  to
Hughes (1989:14) means the involvement of a skill that  is  supposed  to  be
tested. The following view means that when applying the direct  testing  the
teacher will be interested in testing a particular skill, e.g.  if  the  aim
of the test is to check listening comprehension, the students will be  given
a test that will check their listening skills,  such  as  listening  to  the
tape and doing the accompanying tasks. Such type of  test  will  not  engage
testing of other skills. Hughes (ibid.) emphasises the importance  of  using
authentic materials. Though, we  stipulate  that  the  teacher  is  free  to
decide him/herself what kind of material the  students  should  be  provided
with. It the teacher’s aim is to teach the students to comprehend the  real,
native speech, s/he will  apply  the  authentic  material  in  teaching  and
later, logically, in tests. Developing the idea we can cite  Bynom  (2001:8)
who assumes  that  direct  testing  introduces  real-life  language  through
authentic tasks. Consequently, it will lead  to  the  usage  of  role-plays,
summarising the  general  idea,  providing  the  missing  information,  etc.
Moving further and analysing the statements made by  the  linguists  (Bynom,
2001; Hughes,1989) we can posit the idea that direct testing will  be  task-
oriented, effective and easy to manage if it tests such  skills  as  writing
or speaking. It could be explained by the fact that the  tasks  intended  to
check the skills mentioned above  give  us  precise  information  about  the
learners’ abilities. Moreover, we can maintain  that  when  testing  writing
the teacher demands the students to write a certain task, such as an  essay,
a composition or reproduction, and  it  will  be  precisely  the  point  the
teacher will be intended to check. There will be certain demands imposed  on
writing test; the teacher might be just interested in the students’  ability
to produce the  right  layout  of  an  essay  without  taking  grammar  into
account, or, on the contrary, will be more concerned  with  grammatical  and
syntactical structures. What concerns  testing  speaking  skills,  here  the
author of the paper does not support the idea  promoted  by  Bynom  that  it
could be treated as direct testing. Definitely,  you  will  have  a  certain
task to involve your speaking skills;  however,  speaking  is  not  possible
without employment of listening skills. This in turn will generate the  idea
that apart from speaking skills the teacher will test the students’  ability
to understand the speech s/he hears, thus involving speaking skills.
      It is said that the  advantages  of  direct  testing  is  that  it  is
intended to test some certain abilities, and preparation  for  that  usually
involves persistent practice of certain  skills.  Nevertheless,  the  skills
tested are deprived from  the  authentic  situation  that  later  may  cause
difficulties for the students in using them.
      Now we can shift to another notion - indirect testing. It differs from
direct one in the way that it measures a skill through some other skill.  It
could mean the incorporation of various skills that are connected with  each
other, e.g. listening and speaking skills.
      Indirect testing, regarding to Hughes, tests the usage of the language
in real-life situation. Moreover, it suits all  situations;  whereas  direct
testing is bound to certain tasks intended to check a certain skill.  Hughes
(ibid.) assumes that indirect testing is more  effective  than  direct  one,
for it covers a broader part of the language. It denotes that  the  learners
are not constrained to one particular skill and a  relevant  exercise.  They
are free to elaborate all four skills; what is checked is their  ability  to
operate with those skills and apply  them  in  various,  even  unpredictable
situations. This is the true indicator of the learner’s  real  knowledge  of
the language.
      Indirect testing has more advantages that disadvantages, although  the
only drawback according to Hughes is that such type of testing is  difficult
to evaluate. It could be  frustrating  what  to  check  and  how  to  check;
whether grammar should be evaluated higher, than  composition  structure  or
vice versa. The author of the paper agrees with  that,  however,  basing  on
her experience at school again, she must claim that it is  not  so  easy  to
apply indirect testing. This could be rather time-consuming,  for  it  is  a
well-known fact that the duration  of  the  class  is  just  forty  minutes;
moreover, it is rather complicated to construct indirect test –  it  demands
a lot of work, but our teachers are usually overloaded  with  a  variety  of
other duties. Thus, we can only hope on the  course  books  that  supply  us
with a variety of activities that involve cooperation of all four skills.

4.2 Discrete point and integrative testing

      Having discussed the kinds of testing that deal with general  aspects,
such as certain skills and variety of skills in cooperation, we can come  to
the  more  detailed  types  as  discrete  point  and  integrative   testing.
According to Longman Dictionary of LTAL (112),  discrete  point  test  is  a
language test that is  meant  to  test  a  particular  language  item,  e.g.
tenses. The basis of that type of tests is that we can  test  components  of
the  language  (grammar,  vocabulary,  pronunciation,  and   spelling)   and
language skills (listening, reading, speaking, and writing)  separately.  We
can declare that discrete point test is a common test used by  the  teachers
in our schools. Having studied a grammar topic  or  new  vocabulary,  having
practiced it a great deal, the teacher basically gives a test based  on  the
covered material. This test usually includes the  items  that  were  studied
and will never display anything else from a far different  field.  The  same
will concern the language skills; if the teacher’ aim is  to  check  reading
skills; the other skills will be neglected. The  author  of  the  paper  had
used such types of tests herself, especially after a definite grammar  topic
was studied. She had to construct the tests herself basing on  the  examples
displayed in various grammar books. It was  usually  gap-filling  exercises,
multiple choice  items  or  cloze  tests.  Sometimes  a  creative  work  was
offered, where the students  had  to  write  a  story  involving  a  certain
grammar theme that was being  checked.  According  to  her  observance,  the
students who studied hard were able to complete  them  successfully,  though
there were the cases when the students  failed.  Now  having  discussed  the
theory on validity, reliability and  types  of  testing,  it  is  even  more
difficult to realize who was really to blame for the test  failures:  either
the tests were  wrongly  designed  or  there  was  a  problem  in  teaching.
Notwithstanding, this type was and still remains to be the most general  and
acceptable type in schools of our country, for it  is  easy  to  design,  it
concerns a certain aspect of the language and is easy to score. If we  speak
about types of tests we can say that this way of testing refers  more  to  a
progress test (You can see the examples of such type  of  test  in  Appendix
      Nevertheless, according to Bynom (2001:8) there is a certain  drawback
of discrete point testing, for it tests only separated parts, but  does  not
show us the whole language. It is true, if our aim  is  to  incorporate  the
whole language. Though, if we are to check the exact material  the  students
were supposed to learn, then why not use it.
      Discussing further, we have come to integrative  tests.  According  to
Longman Dictionary of LTAL, the integrative test intends  to  check  several
language skills and language components together or  simultaneously.  Hughes
(1989:15) stipulates  that  the  integrative  tests  display  the  learners’
knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, spelling together,  but  not  as  separate
skills or items.
      Alderson (1996:219) poses that, by and  large,  most  teachers  prefer
using integrative testing to discrete point type. He explains the fact  that
basically the teachers either have no  enough  of  spare  time  to  check  a
certain split item  being  tested  or  the  purpose  of  the  test  is  only
considered to view the whole material. Moreover, some language  skills  such
as reading do  not  require  the  precise  investigation  of  the  students’
abilities whether they can cope with definite fragments of the text or  not.
We can render the prior statements as the idea that the teachers are  mostly
concerned with general language knowledge, but not with bits and  pieces  of
it. The separate items usually are not capable of showing the real state  of
the students’ knowledge. What concerns the author of the  paper,  she  finds
integrative testing very useful, though more habitual one  she  believes  to
be discrete point test. She assumes  that  the  teacher  should  incorporate
both types of  testing  for  effective  evaluation  of  the  students’  true
language abilities.

4.3 Criterion-referenced and norm referenced testing

      The next types of testing to be discussed are criterion-referenced and
norm referenced testing. They are  not  focused  directly  on  the  language
items, but on the scores the students  can  get.  Again  we  should  concern
Longman Dictionary of LTAL (17) that states that  criterion-referenced  test
measures the knowledge  of  the  students  according  to  set  standards  or
criteria. This means that there will be certain criteria according to  which
the students will be assessed. There will be various criteria for  different
levels of the students’ language knowledge. Here the aim of testing  is  not
to compare the results of the students. It is connected with  the  learners’
knowledge of the  subject.  As  Hughes  (1989:16)  puts  it  the  criterion-
referenced tests check the actual language abilities of the  students.  They
distinguish the weak and strong points of the students. The students  either
manage to pass the test or fail it.  However,  they  never  feel  better  or
worse than their classmates, for the progress is  focused  and  checked.  At
this point we can speak about the  centralized  exams  at  the  end  of  the
twelfth and ninth form. As far as the author of the paper is concerned,  the
results of the exams are confident,  and  the  learners  after  passing  the
exams are conferred with various levels relevant to their language  ability.
Apart from that, once a year in  Latvian  schools  the  students  are  given
tests designed by the officials of the Ministry of Education  to  check  the
level of the students and, what is most important, the work of the  teacher.
They call them diagnostic tests, though according to the material  discussed
above it is rather arguable. Nevertheless,  we  can  accept  the  fact  that
criterion-referenced testing could be used in the form of diagnostic tests.
      Advancing further, we have come to norm-referenced test that  measures
the knowledge of the learner and compares it with the knowledge  of  another
member of his/her group. The learner’s score is compared with the scores  of
the other students. According to Hughes (ibid.), this type of test does  not
show us what exactly the student knows. Therefore, we presume that the  best
test format for the following type of testing could  be  a  placement  test,
for it concerns the students’ placement  and  division  according  to  their
knowledge of the foreign language. There the score is vital, as well.

4.4 Objective and subjective testing

      It worth mentioning that apart from scoring and testing the  learners’
abilities another essential role could be devoted to indirect  factors  that
influence evaluating. These are objective and subjective issues in  testing.
According to Hughes (1989:19), the difference between  these  two  types  is
the way of scoring and presence or absence of the examiner’s  judgement.  If
there is not any judgement, the test is  objective.  On  the  contrary,  the
subjective test involves personal judgement of the examiner. The  author  of
the paper sees it as when testing  the  students  objectively,  the  teacher
usually  checks  just  the  knowledge  of  the   topic.   Whereas,   testing
subjectively could imply the teacher’s ideas and judgements. This  could  be
encountered during speaking  test  where  the  student  can  produce  either
positive or negative impression on  the  teacher.  Moreover,  the  teacher’s
impression and  his/her  knowledge  of  the  students’  true  abilities  can
seriously influence assessing process. For example, the student  has  failed
the test; however, the teacher knows the true abilities of the student  and,
therefore, s/he will assess the work of that student differently taking  all
the factors into account.

4.5 Communicative language testing

      Referring to Bynom (ibid.), this type of testing  has  become  popular
since 1970-80s. It involves the knowledge of grammar and  how  it  could  be
applied in written and oral language; the knowledge when to speak  and  what
to say in an appropriate  situation;  knowledge  of  verbal  and  non-verbal
communication. All these types of knowledge should be successfully  used  in
a situation. It bases on the  functional  use  of  the  language.  Moreover,
communicative language testing helps the learners feel themselves  in  real-
life situation and acquire the relevant language.
      Weir (1990:7) stipulates  that  the  current  type  of  testing  tests
exactly the “performance” of communication. Further, he  develops  the  idea
of “competence” due to the  fact  that  an  individual  usually  acts  in  a
variety of situations. Afterwards, reconsidering  Bachman’s  idea  he  comes
with another notion – ‘communicative language ability’.
       Weir  (1990:10-11)  assumes  that  in  order  to  work  out  a   good
communicative language test we have to bear in mind the issue of  precision:
both  the  skills  and  performance  should  be  accurate.  Besides,   their
collaboration is vital for the students’ placement in  the  so-called  ‘real
life situation’. However, without a context the communicative language  test
would not function. The context should be as closer  to  the  real  life  as
possible. It is required in order to help the student  feel  him/herself  in
the natural environment. Furthermore, Weir (ibid.)  stresses  that  language
‘fades’ if deprived of the context.
      Weir (ibid., p.11) says: “to measure language  proficiency  adequately
in each situation, account must be taken of: where, when,  how,  with  whom,
and why the language is to be used,  and  on  what  topics,  and  with  what
effect.”  Moreover,  Weirs  (ibid.)  emphasises  the  crucial  role  of  the
schemata (prior knowledge) in the communicative language tests.
      The tasks  used  in  the  communicative  language  testing  should  be
authentic and ‘direct’ in order the student will be able to  perform  as  it
is done in everyday life.
      According to Weir (ibid.), the students have to be ready to  speak  in
any situation; they have to be ready to discuss some topics  in  groups  and
be able to overcome difficulties met in the natural environment.  Therefore,
the tests of this type are never simplified, but are given as they could  be
encountered in  the  surroundings  of  the  native  speaker.  Moreover,  the
student has to possess some communicative skills, that is how to  behave  in
a certain situation, how to apply body language, etc.
      Finally, we can repeat that communicative  language  testing  involves
the learner’s ability to operate with the language s/he knows and  apply  it
in a certain situation  s/he  is  placed  in.  S/he  should  be  capable  of
behaving in real-life situation with confidence and be ready to  supply  the
information required by a certain situation. Thereof,  we  can  speak  about
communicative language testing as a testing  of  the  student’s  ability  to
behave him/herself, as he or she would do  in  everyday  life.  We  evaluate
their performance.
      To conclude we will repeat that there are different types testing used
in the language teaching: discreet point  and  integrative  testing,  direct
and indirect testing, etc. All of them are vital for testing the students.

Chapter 5
Testing the Language Skills

      In this chapter we will attempt to examine  the  various  elements  or
formats of tests that could be applied for testing of four language  skills:
reading, listening, writing and speaking. First, we will look  at  multiple-
choice tests, after that we will come to cloze tests and gap  filling,  then
to dictations and so on. Ultimately, we will  attempt  to  draw  a  parallel
between them and the skills they could be used for.

5.1 Multiple choice tests

      It is not surprising why we have started exactly with  multiple-choice
tests (MCQs, further in the text). To the author’s concern these  tests  are
widely used by teachers in  their  teaching  practice,  and,  moreover,  are
favoured by the  students  (Here  the  author  has  been  supported  by  the
equivalent idea of Alderson  (1996:222)).  Heaton  (1990:79)  believes  that
multiple-choice  questions  are  basically  employed  to  test   vocabulary.
However, we can argue with the statement,  for  the  multiple  choice  tests
could be successfully used for testing  grammar,  as  well  as  for  testing
listening or reading skills.
   It is a well-known fact how a multiple-choice test looks like:
        1. ----  not  until  the  invention  of  the  camera  that  artists
           correctly painted horses racing.
        A) There was
        B) It was
        C) There
        D) It
        “Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test”:
    A task basically is represented by a number of sentences, which  should
be provided with the right variant, that, in  its  turn,  is  usually  given
below. Furthermore, apart from the right variant the students are offered  a
set of distractors, which are normally introduced in order to “deceive”  the
learner. If the student knows the material that is being tested,  s/he  will
spot the right variant, supply it and successfully accomplish the task.  The
distractors, or wrong words, basically  slightly  differ  from  the  correct
variant and sometimes are even funny. Nevertheless, very  often  they  could
be represented by the synonyms of the correct answer whose  differences  are
known to those who encounter the language more frequently as  their  job  or
study field. In that case they  could  be  hardly  differentiated,  and  the
students are frustrated. Certainly, the following  cases  could  be  implied
when teaching vocabulary,  and,  consequently,  will  demand  the  students’
ability to use the right synonym. The author of  the  paper  had  given  the
multiple-choice  tests  to  her  students  and  must  confess  that  despite
difficulties in preparing them, the students found them easier to  do.  They
motivated their favour for them as it was  rather  convenient  for  them  to
find the right variant, definitely  if  they  knew  what  to  look  for.  We
presume that such test format as if  motivated  the  learners  and  supplied
them additional support that  they  were  deprived  during  the  test  where
nobody could hope for the teacher’s help.
   Everything mentioned above has  raised  the  author’s  interest  in  the
theory on multiple-choice test format and, therefore,  she  finds  extremely
useful the following list  of  advantages  and  disadvantages  generated  by
Weir. He (1990:43) lists  four  advantages  and  six  disadvantages  of  the
multiple-choice questions test. Let us look at the advantages first:
    . According to Weir, the multiple-choice questions  are  structured  in
      such a form that there is no possibility for the  teacher  or  as  he
      places “marker” to apply his/her personal  attitude  to  the  marking
   The author of the paper finds it to be very significant,  for  employing
the test of this format we see only what  the  student  knows  or  does  not
know; the teacher cannot raise or lower the marker basing on  the  students’
additional ideas displayed in the work.  Furthermore,  the  teacher,  though
knowing the strong and weak points of his/her students,  cannot  apply  this
information as well to influence the mark.  What  s/he  gets  are  the  pure
facts of the students’ knowledge.
   Another advantage is:
    . The usage of pre-test that could be helpful for stating the level  of
      difficulty of the examples and the  test  in  the  whole.  That  will
      reduce  the  probability  of  the  test  being  inadequate   or   too
      complicated both for completing and marking.
   This could mean  that  the  teacher  can  ensure  his/her  students  and
him/herself against failures. For this purposes s/he just has  to  test  the
multiple-choice test to avoid troubles connected with  its  inadequacy  that
later can lead to the disaster for the students receiving bad marks  due  to
the fact that the test’s examples were too complicated or too ambiguous.
   The next advantage concerns the format of the test that clearly  implies
the idea of  what  the  learner  should  do.  The  instructions  are  clear,
unambiguous. The students know what they are  expected  to  do  and  do  not
waste their precious time on trying to figure out what they are supposed  to
   The last advantage displayed by Weir is  that  the  MCQs  in  a  certain
context are better  than  open-ended  or  short-answer  questions,  for  the
learners are not required to produce their writing skills.  This  eliminates
the students’ fear of mistakes they can make while  writing;  moreover,  the
task does not demand any  creative  activity,  but  only  checks  the  exact
knowledge of the material.
   Having considered the advantages of MCQs, it is worth speaking about its
disadvantages. We will not present all of them only  what  we  find  of  the
utmost interest and value for us.
   The first disadvantage concerns  the  students’  guessing  the  answers;
therefore, we cannot objectively judge his/her true knowledge of the  topic.
We are not able to see whether the student knows the material or  have  just
luckily ticked  or  circled  the  right  variant.  Therefore,  it  could  be
connected with another shortcoming of the following test format  that  while
scoring the teacher will not get the right and  true  picture  of  what  the
students really know.
   Another interesting point that could  be  mentioned  it  that  multiple-
choice differ from the real-life situation by the  choice  of  alternatives.
Usually, in our everyday life we have to choose  between  two  alternatives,
whereas the  multiple-choice  testing  might  confuse  the  learner  by  the
examples s/he even has not thought  about.  That  will  definitely  lead  to
frustration, and, consequently, to the student’s failure to  accomplish  the
task successfully.
   Besides,  regarding  Weir  (ibid.)  who  quotes  Heaton  (1975)  we  can
stipulate that in some cases multiple-choice tests are not adequate  and  it
is better to use  open-ended  questions  to  avoid  the  pro-long  lists  of
multiple-choice items. This probably will concern the  subject,  which  will
require a more precise description and explanation from the students’ side.
   To finish up with the drawbacks of MCQs we can  declare  that  they  are
relatively costly and time-consuming to prepare. The  test  designer  should
carefully select and analyse each item to be included in the test  to  avoid
ambiguity and imprecision.  Furthermore,  s/he  should  check  all  possible
grammar,  spelling  and  punctuation  mistakes,  evaluate  the  quality   of
information offered for the learners’  tasks  and  choose  the  correct  and
relevant distractors for the students not to confuse them during the test.
   To conclude we can cite Heaton (1990:17) who stipulates that designing a
multiple-choice items test is not so  fearful  and  hard  as  many  teachers
think. The only thing you need is practice accompanied by a bit  of  theory.
He suggests for an inexperienced teacher to use not more than three  options
if the teacher encounters certain difficulties in  supplying  more  examples
for the distractors. The options should  be  grammatically  correct  and  of
equal length. Moreover, the context should be appropriate to  illustrate  an
example and make the student guess right.

5.2 Short answer tests

      A further format  that  is  worth  mentioning  is  short  answer  test
format. According  to  Alderson  (1996:223)  short  answer  tests  could  be
substitutes to multiple-choice tests. The  only  difference  is  that  apart
from the optional answers the students will have to provide  short  answers.
The author of the paper had not used this  test  format,  thus,  she  cannot
draw on her experience. Therefore, she will just list the ideas produced  by
other linguists, to be more exact Alderson’s suggestions.
      Alderson (ibid.) believes that short answer tests will  contribute  to
the students’ results, for they will be able to support their  answers  and,
if necessary, clarify why they responded in that way but not the  other.  It
could be explained that the students  will  have  an  opportunity  to  prove
their answers and support them if necessary.
      Nevertheless, the short answer tests are  relatively  complicated  for
the teacher to be designed. The teacher has to consider a variety  of  ideas
and thoughts to create a fairy relevant test  with  fairly  relevant  items.
May be that could explain the fact why  this  test  format  is  not  such  a
common occasion as MCQs are.
      At this point we have  come  to  advantages  and  drawbacks  of  short
answer tests. Weir (1990:44) says that this type  of  testing  differs  from
MCQs by the absence of the answers. The students have to provide the  answer
themselves. That will give the marker the clear idea  whether  the  students
know what they write about or not. Certainly, the teacher will  be  definite
about the students’ knowledge, whereas in MCQs s/he can  doubt  whether  the
students know or have just  guessed  the  correct  answer.  Moreover,  short
answer test could make the students  apply  their  various  language  skills
techniques they use while dealing with any reading,  listening  or  speaking
      Finally, Weir (ibid.)  stipulates  that  if  the  questions  are  well
formulated, there is a high chance the  student  will  supply  short,  well-
formulated answer. Therefore, a variety of questions could  be  included  in
the test to cover a broader field of the student’s knowledge, and  certainly
it will require a great work from the teacher.
      Nevertheless, there are certain drawbacks displayed by  the  following
test  format.  One  of  the  major  disadvantages  could  be  the  students’
involvement in writing. For if we  are  determined  to  check  the  students
reading abilities, it is not appropriate to give the students writing  tasks
due to the high possibility of the spelling and grammar  mistakes  that  may
occur during the process. Therefore, we have to decide upon  our  priorities
– what do we want to test.  Furthermore,  the  students  while  writing  can
produce far different answers than expected. It will be  rather  complicated
to decide whether to consider them as mistakes or not.

5.3 The cloze test and gap-filling tests

      Before coming to the theory on  cloze  tests  we  assume  that  it  is
necessary for us to speak about a term “cloze”. Weir (1990:46) informs  that
it was coined by W.L. Taylor (1953) from the word ‘closure’  and  meant  the
individual’s ability to complete a model.
      However, to follow the model one has to posses certain  skills  to  do
so. Hence, we can speak about introduction of such  skill  that  Weir  calls
deduction. Deduction is an important aspect for dealing with  anything  that
is unknown and unfamiliar. Thus, before giving a cloze test the teacher  has
to be certain whether his/her  students  are  familiar  with  the  deduction
       Alderson (1996:224) assumes that there are two cloze test techniques:
pseudo-random and rational cloze technique. In the  pseudo-random  test  the
test designer deletes words at a  definite  rate,  or  as  Heaton  (1990:19)
places it, systematically, for example every  7th  word  should  be  deleted
occasionally with the initiate  letter  of  the  omitting  word  left  as  a

      Although you may think of  Britain  as  England  ,i...is  really  four
countries in one.  There  a..  …..four  very  distinct  nations  within  the
British  I………:  England,  Scotland,  Wales  and  Ireland,  each  with  their
o…..unique culture, history, cuisine, literature a…..even languages.
                                       (Discovering Britain,  Pavlockij  B.
                                  M., 2000)

      However, the task could be more demanding  if  the  teacher  will  not
assist the learners’ guesses and will not provide any hints:

      Scotland is in  the  north  and  Wales  in  the  west  were………separate
countries. They have different customs,……………….., language and, in  Scotland’
s case, different legal and educational……………….

      The examples shown above do not yield to be  ideal  examples  at  all.
Without doubt, the material used in the task should  more  or  less  provide
the  students  with  the  appropriate  clues  to  form   correct   guessing.
Notwithstanding, the author  of  the  paper  has  used  such  tests  in  her
practice and according to her observations; she can conclude that the  tasks
with the first letter left  are  highly  motivating  for  the  students  and
supply a lot of help for them.  Moreover,  having  discussed  the  following
test format the teacher has revealed that the students like it  and  receive
a real pleasure if they are able to confirm their guess and find  the  right
      However, according to Alderson (ibid.), the teacher commonly does  not
intend to check a certain material by the cloze test. The  main  point  here
is the independence of the student and his/her  ability  to  apply  all  the
necessary techniques to fill in the blank spaces. Concerning the  mentioned-
above scholars, we have  to  agree  that  the  following  type  of  test  is
actually relatively challenging, for  it  demands  vast  language  knowledge
from the student. Heaton (ibid.) believes that each third or fourth  deleted
word can turn into  the  handicap  for  the  learner  due  to  the  lack  of
prompting devices, such as collocations,  prepositions,  etc.  Whereas,  the
removal of each ninth word may even lead to the exhausting reading process.
      On the contrary, the rational cloze technique, or  as  it  is  usually
called gap-filling, is based on the deletion of  words  connected  with  the
topic the teacher wants or intends  to  check.  At  this  time  the  teacher
controls the procedure more than it is in the pseudo-random  test  discussed
above. Moreover, s/he tries to delete every fifth or sixth  word,  but  does
it rather carefully not to distort the  meaning  and  mislead  the  learner.
Besides, a significant factor in this type of testing is  that  the  teacher
removes exactly the main words that are supposed to be checked, i.e.:

      Britain…….a deceptively large island and  ……surrounded  by  some  very
beautiful coastline.  The  south  of  England  has  popular  sandy  beaches,
especially in the west. But the coast in the  south  west  Wales…..a  unique
coastal National Park. Its beaches……  great  for  sunbathing  and  the  rock
pools and cliffs ……..havens for  wildlife.  Up  in  Scotland,  the  striking
white  beaches  of  the  west  coast  and  islands……excellent   places   for
explorative walks.
                            (Discovering Britain, Pavlockij B. M., 2000)

      It is evident that the teacher’s aim by the help of the rational cloze
test is to check the students’ knowledge of the Present simple of  the  verb
“to be”. Thereof, the cloze tests could be  successfully  used  for  testing
grammar, as well.
      We have come again to the point when  we  are  going  to  mention  the
advantages and disadvantages of cloze  and  gap-filling  testing  coined  by
Weir. Regarding Weir,  there  are  more  disadvantages  than  advantages  in
applying the cloze tests. He says that to design  a  cloze  test  is  fairly
easy, and they are easy to evaluate, and it  is  the  best  means  to  check
reading comprehension. Concerning  the  drawbacks,  we  can  emphasise  that
randomly removed words usually will act as distractors and will  not  be  of
true importance for the students to comprehend a message  if,  for  example,
it is a reading task.
      Compared to the cloze test, gap filling is more  material  based,  for
it checks the students’ knowledge of a particular topic. Therefore,  we  can
speak about the first advantage that is the learners will know exactly  what
they should insert. Moreover, the selectively deleted items  allow  focusing
exactly on them and do not confuse the student.
      The last what could be said about  gap  filling  tests  is  that  this
technique limits  us  to  check  only  a  certain  language  skill,  e.g.  a
vocabulary on different topics.

5.4 C-Tests

      It is worth mentioning that in the 80s  German  school  introduced  an
alternative to cloze test another type of testing – C-Tests. This  test  was
based on the cloze  test  system;  however,  every  second  word  there  was
deleted. It  could  seem  quite  a  complicated  type,  though  it  is  not.
According to Weir (1990:47) in this type every  deleted  word  is  partially
preserved. Thus, the students, if they possess a fairly  good  knowledge  of
the language and can activate their schemata, or background knowledge  of  a
topic or the world, they will succeed in  completing  the  test.  Such  test
format could look as follows:
       Cats  ha….  always  been  surro………by  superstitions.  In   anc……Egypt
ca….were cons……. sacred, but in medi…..Europe ma….. people beli…… cats  we….
witches in disgu…… A popular supers……... about  ca….  is  that  a  blac…cat,
cros… your pa… from left to rig…., will bri… you bad lu…. However,  in  some
cult….. a black ca… is thought to be a go… omen rat… than a ba… one.
                                       (First   certificate   Star,    Luke
                                       Prodromou, p.134)
      Definitely there are advantages and  disadvantages  of  the  following
test format. According to Weir, due to the frequency of  the  deleted  items
there is a great possibility to include  more  tested  items  in  the  test.
Moreover, this test is economical. However, despite all the advantages,  the
test can mislead  the  students  as  it  is  fragmented.  The  examples  are
deprived from the context that could  be  very  helpful  for  the  students’
guessing of the missing parts.

5.5 True/False items

      This test format is familiar for all the teachers and  students.  Each
reading task will always be followed with true/false  activities  that  will
intend to check the students’ comprehension of a text. The students will  be
offered a set of statements some of which  are  true  and  some  are  wrong,
              1. People went to see ‘Cats’ because of the story. T F
              2. Lloyd Webber’s father helped his career. T F
              3. Lloyd Webber comes from a musical family. T F
                                                   ( Famous Britons, Michael
 They usually should be ticked, and in order to tick  the  correct  variants
the students have to be able to employ various guessing strategies.
       According to Weir (1990:48), the advantage of such test is  found  in
its applicability and suitability. One can write more true/false  statements
for a test and use them to check  the  students’  progress  or  achievement.
Furthermore, the current sort of testing could be more  motivating  for  the
students than  a  multiple-choice  test.  It  will  not  make  the  students
confused offering just one possibility than a  multiple-choice  test,  which
typically proposes more than one option to  choose  from.  Moreover,  it  is
easy to answer for the students and check for the teachers.

5.6 Dictation

      Another test format that could be applied in the language classroom is
dictation. We commonly use dictations to check  spelling;  nevertheless,  it
could be applied to test listening comprehension, as  well.  It  is  obvious
that to dictate something we have either to speak or  read.  It  means  that
while writing a dictation the student has to be able to perceive the  spoken
language efficiently enough to produce in on paper.  For  this  purpose  the
student will require a variety  of  techniques  such  as  schemata  and  its
application, predictions, guessing and context clues, etc. Further, it  also
is constrained that dictation help the students develop their  abilities  to
distinguish  between  phonemes,  separate  words  and  intonation.  Besides,
dictations function  in  spoken  language;  thereof  the  students  have  an
opportunity to learn  to  understand  the  language  through  listening.  To
conclude what has been mentioned above we  can  agree  with  Weir  (1990:49)
that dictations will force the  students  to  use  the  variety  of  skills:
listening, reading, speaking and writing skills.
      Heaton (1990:28)  advises  that  to  enable  the  students  comprehend
successfully, the teacher  need  to  read  carefully  and  clearly,  however
avoiding slow, word for word reading. Moreover, to  allow  the  students  to
check what they have written the repetition will be required. The author  of
the paper when giving dictations to her students had  encountered  the  need
for repetition for a number of times. The following could  be  explained  by
many factors, such as the students are not able to  perceive  spoken  speech
through  listening;  they  are  not  able  to  elaborate  various  guessing,
inferring of the meaning techniques or  their  pace  of  writing  is  simply
rather slow. Thus, we entirely support the next statement claimed by  Heaton
that it is wise after the first reading of a  dictation  to  ask  a  set  of
comprehension questions to make the students aware of the general idea of  a
text. It will simplify the process of the understanding.
      Notwithstanding, even an ideal variant will  definitely  contain  some
drawbacks. The same could be  applied  to  dictations.  First,  to  write  a
dictation,  the  student  requires  a  good  memory.  S/he  has  to   retain
information they have heard in order to  display  it  later;  moreover,  the
information should be identical to the original.  Therefore,  we  can  claim
that the student has to recognize at least seventy-eighty per cent  of  what
has been dictated.  In  that  case  we  short-term  memory  should  be  well
      Apart from  memory,  scoring  could  be  problematic,  as  well.  Weir
(1990:50) believes that is difficult to decide what  to  pay  attention  to:
whether to evaluate spelling and grammar,  or  just  perceived  information.
Thus, the teacher has to work out a certain set  of  criteria,  as  we  have
already mentioned that in Chapter 1, the criteria  s/he  will  be  operating
with. Besides, the students should be acquainted with it, as well.
      In addition, Weir (ibid.) says that dictating is more efficient if  it
is recorded on the tape and is delivered by a native speaker. It could  mean
that the students will have a chance to fell  themselves  in  the  real-life
situation; for this is the actual purpose they learn the language  for.  The
following has been expanded by Heaton (ibid.) that  speaking  face  to  face
with a speaker is even more beneficial, for we can compensate  the  lack  of
understanding  by  his/her  facial  expression,  gestures   and   movements.
Listening to a cassette  does  not  provide  us  with  such  a  chance,  and
therefore, it is more challenging and  requires  more  developed  skills  to
understand a recorded message.

5.7 Listening Recall

      This test format is specifically applied to testing listening  skills.
It differs from a dictation that it supplies the  students  with  a  printed
text. However, the text is given not as the complete  script  of  the  tape.
Certain words that carry the meaning load are deleted from  a  passage,  and
the students after listening to  the  tape  are  supposed  to  insert  them.
Hence, it could be related to a  gap-filling  test.  Here  the  cassette  is
usually played for two times; first, the  students  listen  for  information
and attempt to insert the missing details. The second time  allows  them  to
add what they had failed to understand at the beginning. The author  of  the
paper had not used that as a direct test format  but  as  a  while-listening
activity during her classes. According to her  scrutiny  the  students  with
more  advanced  language  abilities  were  able  to  comprehend  the   texts
immediately, whereas the weaker  students  sometimes  could  not  manage  to
understand the message even listening for the tape for the third time.  That
again proves the significance of usage of  pre-,  while  and  post-listening
activities in the language classroom. Weir (ibid.) states that such type  of
testing involves the students’ short-time memory, which they need to  switch
while listening to the tape.
      According to Weir (ibid.), one of the advantages of  listening  recall
is uncomplicated construction, administration and marking.
      Nevertheless, there are several disadvantages, as  well.  There  is  a
danger, that the students will read the  passage  before  listening  to  the
tape, thus we will not be able to evaluate exactly their  listening  skills.
The author of the current  paper  had  encountered  the  similar  situation,
where the teacher warns the students not to read but just  listen.  However,
they start reading immediately after receiving the  text,  even  though  the
tape record being still turned off.

5.8 Testing Grammar  Through  Error-recognition  Items  and  Word  Formation

      One of the test  formats  for  testing  grammar  is  error-recognition
items. Here the teacher writes sentences underlining various words.  One  of
the words is obligatory wrong, and the students have to identify  what  word
is wrong and should be corrected. Heaton (ibid.) introduces a  variation  of
that type, saying that the teacher can supply the  students  with  incorrect
sentences asking the students to  provide  the  right  variant.  This  again
demands a fairly  good  knowledge  of  the  subject  from  the  students  to
differentiate between the right and wrong variants. In that case the  error-
recognition format could be compared with multiple-choice  format  and  even
called a branch of it. Below you can find the example  of  error-recognition
items format:
             1. I can’t come to the phone – I have / I’m having a shower!
             2. I watched/ I was watching TV  when  suddenly  the  telephone
             3. I had been waiting/ I had waited in the rain for  ages  when
                she finally turned up.
                                       (First   certificate   Star,    Luke
                                  Prodromou, p.12)
      Further, for testing grammar and  language  structures  we  often  use
word-formation tasks, e.g.:
Making friends and ………people is a gift that some              influence
………….people seem to be born with, while for others it         luck
is a skill that has to be ……..through practice and            acquire
hard work. It is, however, …….to know that most skills,       comfort
particularly ………….skill, can be learnt and that it is never         society
too late to start improving.
                                       (First   certificate   Star,    Luke
                                  Prodromou, p.41)

|verb            |noun            |person          |Adjective       |
|Invent          |                |                |                |
|                |                |discoverer      |-               |
|                |creation        |                |                |

      It is frequently used in  centralized  exams  to  know  the  students’
ability to coin new words that displays the students’ advanced level of  the
language. The students are demanded coining  nouns  from  verbs,  adjectives
from nouns, etc. This requires certain knowledge of prefixes,  suffixes  and
roots in order to create a necessary word. Word  coinage  is  an  inevitable
skill for recognizing new word items either.

5.9 Controlled writing

       In order to check  the  students  grammar  and  writing  ability  the
teacher can use different test formats:  transformation,  broken  sentences,
sentence and paragraph completion, form filling, notes and diaries.
      According to Heaton (1990:32), transformation  deals  with  re-writing
sentences. For example, the students are  asked  to  change  a  sentence  in
Active voice into a sentence in  Passive  voice.  To  differ  the  task  the
teacher can put the required word in brackets at the end of  each  sentence.
The students will need to transform a sentence to fit the word in  brackets.
Or another example of transformation could be  changing  the  focus  of  the
sentence, e.g.:
   1. Berlin is not an easy city to move about in.
It………………………in Berlin.
   2. I wonder if you could open the window.
You couldn’t ………………….
   3. When did you start to learn English?
                                       (First   certificate   Star,    Luke
                                  Prodromou, and p.40)
      Further, he discusses the sentences that are  divided  into  fragments
(he calls them broken sentences), and the student’s task is to  arrange  the
words in order to produce correct examples. Thus, the students have to  know
grammar and syntaxes to make a right sentence with the correct  word  order.
Sometimes the students are asked to alter the words  to  make  grammatically
correct sentences, e.g.:
   1. a German/hunting/huge/black dog
   2. a 25-year-old/Opera/tall singer
   3. a brand-new/plastic/shopping/green bag
   4. an English/young/interesting teacher
                                       (First   certificate   Star,    Luke
                                  Prodromou, and p.80)
       Afterwards,  the  students  can  be  asked  to  complete  the   whole
paragraphs, finish dialogues, write diaries  using  the  given  information,
and fill the form, for example hotel check-in. The author of the  paper  had
used writing a diary in her 8th form, when the learners  had  to  write  the
diary of captain’s wife whose husband disappeared in the sea. They also  had
to write the diary of  the  captain  himself  before  the  catastrophe.  The
students liked the task immensely.

5.10 Free writing

      Heaton (ibid.) believes that  the  most  suitable  way  to  check  the
students’ writing skills is asking them to write a composition. The  teacher
can include a variety of testing criteria there depending on what is  really
being tested. The topics for a composition should be appropriate to the  age
of the students and respond to their interest. However, the teacher  has  to
establish clearly what s/he is going to check (the  material  studied:  e.g.
grammar) and what could be neglected.  The students  have  to  know  whether
the teacher is interested in the context or may be s/he  is  concerned  with
grammar and spelling, as well.

5.11 Test Formats Used in Testing Speaking Skills

      We are not going to  deep  into  details  of  test  formats  used  for
testing speaking skills.  Heaton (ibid.)  displays  that  one  of  the  most
essential elements of testing speaking is pronunciation. To  check  how  the
students pronounce  certain  testing  items  the  teacher  may  ask  his/her
students to read aloud  and  retell  stories.  Moreover,  the  teacher  will
receive the impression how  well  his/her  students  can  operate  with  the
spoken language.
      Afterwards, the teachers  can  use  pictures  to  test  the  students’
speaking skills. This is widely used task, and a lot of teachers use  it  to
check the students speaking skills and  the  knowledge  of  the  vocabulary.
Moreover, while describing the picture the student will have  to  imply  the
correct grammar  and  knowledge  of  the  English  sentence  structure.  The
description could be done on the spot and does not require  a  lot  of  time
for preparation, though Heaton (ibid.) stipulates that  the  teacher  should
ensure his/her students with a time during which they  can  formulate  their
ideas before presentation.
      Apart from the pictures the students could be offered  to  describe  a
person if their topic is people’s appearance or jobs, stay the  sequence  of
events basing on the  provided  information  or  pictures  accompanying  the
task, spot differences between  two  pictures  and  compare  them.  Further,
Heaton (ibid.) displays a rather interesting task. The  students  receive  a
picture with speech bubbles. They are asked to write what they think  people
are saying. This in turn involves creativity from the students and could  be
assessed as an additional element and contribute  to  the  students’  marks.
Definitely, each teacher will develop and give the  students  various  tasks
regarding the criteria and demands to be tested.
      In conclusion we can say that the teacher can use a  variety  of  test
formats,  such  as  multiple-choice  questions,  transfer  of   information;
reordering the words, describe a picture, listening to the  instructions  to
check the language skills of his/her students. Every teacher has  to  choose
him/herself the tasks that will be appropriate to their way of teaching  and
the needs of the students.
      Below we have attached the table of  four  language  skills  and  test
formats applicable for each skill.

|                                 |                                   |
|Language Skills                  |Test Formats                       |
|                                 |                                   |
|Reading skills                   |1 Multiple-choice items            |
|                                 |Short answers test                 |
|                                 |Cloze test                         |
|                                 |Gap-filling test                   |
|                                 |False/true statement               |
|                                 |                                   |
|Listening skills                 |Multiple-choice items              |
|                                 |False/true statements              |
|                                 |Gap-filling tests                  |
|                                 |Dictations                         |
|                                 |Listening recall                   |
|                                 |                                   |
|Writing skills                   |Dictations                         |
|                                 |Compositions                       |
|                                 |Reproductions                      |
|                                 |Writing stories                    |
|                                 |Writing diaries                    |
|                                 |Filling-in forms                   |
|                                 |Word formation                     |
|                                 |Sentence transformation            |
|                                 |                                   |
|Speaking skills                  |Retelling stories                  |
|                                 |Describing pictures                |
|                                 |Describing people                  |
|                                 |Spotting the differences           |

Chapter 6

Analysis of the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Cambridge First
Certificate test according to test design criteria.

   The present chapter deals with the practical part  of  the  research.  It
will be based on the  analysis  and  comparison  of  two  proficiency  tests
formats TOEFL (The Test of English as  a  Foreign  Language)  test  and  CFC
(Cambridge  First  Certificate)  test.  We  will  start   with   the   brief
description of their overall features; afterwards we will  make  an  attempt
to contrast them and draw relevant conclusions.
   The first test to be discussed is Cambridge First  Certificate  test.  It
will usually consist of five papers: reading with the duration time  1  hour
and 15 minutes, writing -1 hour 30  minutes,  use  of  English  -1  hour  15
minutes, listening - 40  minutes  and  speaking  approximately  14  minutes.
There is no absolute pass mark, but the candidates need to get about 60%  of
the total marks to pass with a Grade C (Prodromou, 1998:6-7).
   TOEFL test is an examination that intends to evaluate the  level  of  the
English language of a foreign speaker  (Gear,  1996:3-4).  Moreover,  it  is
commonly one of  the  aspects  included  into  the  entrance  exams  of  any
university in the USA. The institution the  person  requires  the  test  for
could implement the demanded score here.  Nevertheless,  the  highest  score
does not differ from that of the CFC. TOEFL test as  CFC  test  consists  of
four different parts: listening comprehension  that  occupies  approximately
35 minutes and consists of three parts,  structure  and  written  expression
with time limit 25 minutes composed of two tasks and  reading  comprehension
– 55 minutes, consisting of several passages.
   Here we can notice some differences between CFC  and  TOEFL  tests:  when
TOEFL test consists of just four parts, CFC includes a speaking  part  more.
Moreover, each part of each test will include  a  various  range  of  tasks,
i.e. each part TOEFL test will mainly be composed   of  two  tasks,  whereas
CFC will classically contain four different activities.
   Doing the tests in both cases  the  students  will  get  special  answers
sheets where they will have to mark the answers they  think  are  the  right
ones.  The  instructions  before  the  taking  the  test  usually  warn  the
participants not to write in the books with questions. Moreover, both  tests
are checked by the scoring machine, therefore the students should  be  aware
of what type of marking the answers they have  to  use.  In  both  cases  it
should be a black lead pencil for the scoring machine to read.  The  answers
should not be circled or lightly marked; in  TOEFL  test  the  students  are
supposed to fill in an oval answer with a  letter  inside  corresponding  to
the question, whereas in CFC the students will  have  to  fill  in  a  small
rectangular under a certain  letter.  Together  the  two  tests  remind  the
participants to choose only one answer. If the student changes his/her  mind
and decides to choose another answer, s/he can easily rub out  the  previous
   We can call the both tests valid, for they test what is  supposed  to  be
tested and measured and they  usually  have  the  same  format  and  length;
regarding reliability, we cannot say exactly whether  there  is  reliability
or not, for if the student was not lucky  for  the  first  time  taking  the
test, s/he can study hard and take the test again for the second  time  and,
thus, score a better result.
   Both of the tests involve the four skills: reading,  listening,  speaking
and writing. The difference could be found in  the  sequence  of  them,  for
example if CFC test will start with reading  first,  TOEFL  test  will  deal
with listening. The types of  tasks  and  activities  implied  in  the  test
differ as well. We will start our analysis with reading part.

   Reading Comprehension Part

   CFC reading paper will test the students’ ability to read in a variety of
ways: reading for gist (understanding of the  text),  reading  for  details,
understanding how a text is organized and  deducing  the  meaning  from  the
context. (Typically, the  students  could  be  given  four  parts  to  fill)
(Prodromou, 1998:8). For that purpose  CFC  reading  paper  will  offer  the
students multiple matching. The students will  have  to  match  headings  or
summary sentences to the parts of the text. They will  have  to  show  their
ability to grasp the overall meaning of the text involving various kinds  of
knowledge such as morphological, semantic and syntactical one. For example:

   Meet the Flinstones, a modern Stone Age family. From the town of Bedrock,
here’s a bit about their history….
1. Somewhere in the world, every hour of every day, The Flinstones is  being
   broadcast. An incredible 300 million fans tune in to watch it  regularly.
   Whether you like them or  not,  Fred,  Wilma  and  their  neighbours  are
   impossible to avoid….
A) Rocky jokes   B) A Stone Age family in skins    C) A  new  idea     D)  A
popular show, etc.
                                         Prodromou, First Certificate Star,
    Thus, basing on the theory we have discussed in the first  part  of  our
paper, we can claim that it  is  integrative  type  of  test,  though  being
direct, that denotes testing one particular skill directly, but not  through
other language skills.
   Afterwards, CFC may offer the students multiple choice, gapped texts  and
again multiple matching only connected with information. In  multiple-choice
activity the  students  will  have  to  answer  four-option  multiple-choice
questions about a text. For example:

   Mad Cow Disease is a deadly illness of the  brain  and  it  is  the  non-
technical term for BSE or Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis. This so  difficult
to say that journalists and even some doctors prefer the more vivid Mad  Cow
1. We use the expression Mad Cow Disease because
A) it is more accurate.
B) It is easier to say.
C) It links cows with people.
D) It sounds less scientific.
                                       Prodromou, First  Certificate  Star,

   It is obvious that only one answer will be the right one, but the  others
will be distractors that will try to confuse the reader. It will  limit  the
students and make them use a variety of  reading  strategies,  knowledge  of
vocabulary  and  syntaxes  to  discover  the  right  variant.  However,  the
students will not have an opportunity to support  their  choices  and  prove
why the answer they have chosen is the exact one.   Moreover,  the  students
will be checked whether they understand the general  meaning  of  the  text,
its  details,  whether  they  can  infer  the  meaning  from  the  text  and
understand references (who refers who). Thus, we can declare that this  type
of test is integrative, for it involves the  students’  abilities  to  apply
various reading strategies and still  direct,  for  it  tests  just  reading
   The same could be said about gapped texts that will check  the  students’
knowledge of reading strategies, such as organization of the  text,  reading
for gist, etc. (examples available in Appendix  p.17)  To  complete  it  the
students will have to show their knowledge  of  the  certain  areas  of  the
language. Multiple matching will require the students  to  match  pieces  of
information either with a  certain  text  divided  into  fragments  or  with
several  texts  joined  together  with  one  topic  (examples  available  in
Appendix p.8).
   CFC will display various types of texts in order  to  see  how  well  the
students can cope with any authentic material  when  dealing  with  reading.
They will have to show their  capability  of  dealing  with  advertisements,
letters, stories, travelling brochures, guides, manuals,  and  magazine  and
newspaper articles. The type of test applicable here  will  be  integrative,
including a variety of strategies and direct checking the  students  reading
   TOEFL  test’s  reading  part  usually  involves  the  students’   general
comprehension of a text. It is regularly a text  followed  by  a  number  of
questions about it typically in the form of multiple  choice  items  format.
However, this part of the test requires the students to  show  their  skills
in reading for gist, the students have to define the main idea  of  a  text;
afterwards, the students  will  have  to  display  their  knowledge  of  the
vocabulary, especially synonyms, ability to infer the  meaning,  define  the
words and apply their skills connected with working with references, i.e.:

   ….The biggest disadvantage was that the sound and pictures  could  become
unsynchronised if, for example, the  gramophone  needle  jumped  or  if  the
speed of the projector changed. This system was only effective for a  single
song or dialogue sequence…..
   47. The word “sequence” in line 14 is closest in meaning to
A) interpretation
B) progression
C) distribution
D) organization
                       Gear, Cambridge preparation for the TOEFL test, 1996

   The  students  will  be  offered  to  read  several   passages,   usually
historical, scientific, medical, etc. facts. They will intend to  check  the
students’ ability to understand specific types of tests taken from  specific
fields, the skill required at the universities, whereas CFC will  offer  the
students the texts they can encounter in their everyday life  being  abroad.
Each text will be typically accompanied with seven questions.
   TOEFL test will chiefly use multiple-choice items; there will be  no  gap
filling or matching implied. Thus, we can call a reading part of TOEFL  test
as a direct, for it tests the students reading  skills,  and  more  discrete
point tests than integrative, for it is mainly concerned with  checking  the
students’ knowledge of vocabulary (examples  available  in  Appendix  p.391-
   The above mentioned could be stated as the first difference:  TOEFL  test
is a discreet point test, while CFC is integrative one.
   Another difference between CFC and TOEFL reading part could be a  variety
of tasks given to test the students’ reading skills. CFC will  mostly  offer
a great range of tasks  (headings,  summary,  fragmented  texts)  and  texts
types, while TOEFL will not vary a lot.
   Listening Part

   The listening part of CFC test aims to  test  the  students’  ability  to
listen and understand the gist, the main points,  and  specific  information
is to deduce meaning. TOEFL test will check whether the  students  are  able
to understand conversations and talks in English.
   CFC test will offer the students a variety  of  activities  in  order  to
check whether the students  can  imply  effective  listening  strategies  to
comprehend the message. It suggests the idea of the test being  integrative,
for it will focus on different means that could  be  used  to  deal  with  a
listening  task.  For  example,  CFC  offers  multiple  choices  as  a  task
(examples available in Appendix p.37): the students listen to several  short
extracts that are taken from different contexts. They could be dialogues  or
monologues as well. The answer sheet will display  the  three  answer  items
from which the students will have to choose the correct one. The task  could
ask the students to guess who the speaker is, where the action takes  place,
what the conversation is about and even it can include  the  question  about
the feelings and emotions  of  speakers  that  could  be  guessed  from  the
   Afterwards, there will be another task – note  taking  or  blank  filling
that will check the student’s ability to listen for gist  and  for  details.
This type will demand  the  student’s  capability  to  use  his/her  writing
skills to put down information they will hear. They will have to be able  to
pick up the necessary information and retain it in their memory in order  to
fulfil the task (examples available in Appendix p.87).
   Subsequently, a further task could engage  multiple  matching  where  the
students will have to concentrate on a particular kind of information.  This
task could be displayed in the form  of  a  dialogue  or  a  monologue.  The
students will be given several answers with letters that should be  inserted
into the right box. However, there will always be one option that  does  not
suit any question, the so-called distractor. Moreover, asking  the  students
to complete a grid, i.e. advantages and  disadvantages  of  anything,  could
expand the task, i.e. advantages and  disadvantages  of  keeping  a  certain

|                      |Advantages            |Disadvantages         |
|dog                   |                      |                      |
|cat                   |                      |                      |
|fish                  |                      |                      |

                                        Prodromou, First  Certificate  Star,

   Moreover, the listening task could involve  True/false  activities  where
the students will have to listen to a dialogue or a monologue and  react  to
it (examples available in Appendix). The students will have to  display  how
well they have comprehended the message ticking the statements whether  they
are true or false. In spite of that, Yes/No questions could take  place.  We
have been discussing them already in  our  theoretical  part  and  mentioned
that the so-called open-ended questions allow  the  students  support  their
answers. Answering them, the students are having a chance to prove why  they
have chosen a certain answer, but not the other. Usually,  if  the  students
are aware of such a possibility, they fill more secure  and  motivated,  for
they can be certain that the examiner will be able to realize the  students’
point. However, it is not a very appropriate type for such a  test  as  CFC,
for checking such tests will be rather time-consuming.
   Listening part of the TOEFL test differs a lot from that of CFC,  for  it
is fully based on  the  multiple-choice  items  that  focus  mainly  on  the
understanding of the main idea of a message (examples available in  Appendix
p.379-384) The participants are exposed to a set  of  short  dialogues  that
are accompanied with four answers, where three are usually  distractors  and
the rest one is correct, i.e.:

   (man) I think, I’ll have the curtains changed.
   (woman) They are a bit worn.
   (narrator) What does the woman mean?

A) She thinks every bit of change is important.
B) She wants to wear them.
C) She thinks they’ve been worn enough.
D) She thinks they’re in bad condition.
                            Gear, Cambridge preparation for the TOEFL test,

    The test implies the idea that to do it  the  students  have  to  use  a
variety of listening strategies,  but  it  is  not  directly  aimed  at  it.
Whereas, the listening part of CFC test is structured so that  the  students
would be able to display their listening skills and strategies, that are  so
useful for them to comprehend the real message in  the  real-life  situation
dealing with a native speaker.
   Thus, we can distinguish certain similarities and differences,  which  we
can encounter comparing them. They are both direct aiming  at  checking  one
exact skill; however, CFC is integrative, but TOEFL is discreet point  test.
Moreover, the test formats differ as well.  CFC  is  richer  in  activities,
than TOEFL test, which offer the students just multiple-choice items test.
   The author of the paper presumes that CFC listening part is more  testee-
friendly, while TOEFL listening part is more “reserved” and does  not  allow
the students fill free, but alarmed.

   Writing Part

   Writing part of CFC test tests the students’ ability to  write  different
types of  writing  texts.  These  could  be  transactional  letters,  simple
letters, compositions, descriptions, reports, etc.  Moreover,  the  students
could be  asked  to  write  an  opinion  composition  and  even  an  article
(examples available in Appendix p.38).
   Transactional letters are aimed at making somebody do something.  Writing
them, the students have to keep in mind that they  are  supposed  to  get  a
relevant answer.
   There are different types of transactional letters, such as a  letter  of
complaint, a letter of invitation, a letter asking  for  information  and  a
letter describing something. The task  requiring  the  students  ability  to
write these letters will supply the  students  with  necessary  information,
may be even pictures, and  usually  will  ask  for  the  students’  personal
opinion. Moreover, the students have to be aware of the  style  that  should
be used depending on the requirements. Furthermore, the students  will  have
to know how the letters are structured, for it will be the factor that  will
be evaluated as well.
   Another writing task such as writing articles for a magazine will require
the students to display  their  writing  abilities,  the  knowledge  of  the
vocabulary, the style and letter organization knowledge (examples  available
in Appendix 38).
   Writing a report will be based on  the  students’  capability  to  gather
facts and analyse them. It could involve a  kind  of  a  research  work  and
knowledge how to express and link the ideas together (examples available  in
Appendix 30).
   Writing a narrative story will ask the creativity from  the  students  to
make it interesting and original. Again the students will have  to  be  able
to express and link their ideas to produce a meaningful text.
   Opinion  composition  will  involve  the  students’  abilities  to  state
advantages and disadvantages of the topic being  discussed,  expressing  own
opinion, stating the problem and possible solutions of it and  expansion  on
the topic analysing various aspects of a topic.
   Another writing task could be a book review. The students  will  have  to
know how to plan and organize the review, giving brief information about  an
author and some essential details about a book. Moreover,  personal  opinion
of the students will be required as well.
   Thus, looking at the facts stated above we can declare that  the  writing
part of CFC is  purely  integrative  type  of  test,  for  it  involves  all
possible written tasks and strategies that should be used to accomplish  the
tasks effectively. Furthermore,  it  will  be  a  direct  testing  aimed  at
testing the students’ writing skills. The tasks and activities presented  in
this part of CFC reflect the students’ needs they may meet  in  a  real-life
situation, for every possible writing piece is given.
   The writing part of TOEFL test  will  generally  involve  essay  writing.
There will not be any letters or book reviews. The students will be given  a
topic that is typically a statement and they will  have  to  expand  it  and
write about it giving  the  facts,  ideas  and  sometimes  even  a  personal
opinion, i.e.: “ If the earth to be saved  from  environmental  catastrophe,
we shall all have to make major changes in our lifestyles” (Gear,  Cambridge
preparation for the TOEFL test, 1996). This type of writing  will  focus  on
expressing ideas and their linking as well.   To  write  a  good  essay  the
students  will  require  the  knowledge  of  the  topic,  or  schemata,  the
knowledge of a relevant vocabulary, appropriate style  and  organization  of
the written text, i.e. thesis sentence, paragraphs, etc (examples  available
in Appendix p. 377 – 378).
   Therefore, we can conclude that the writing part of TOEFL test  could  be
called also an integrative type of test involving the range  of  strategies.
Moreover, it could be defined as direct  testing,  for  it  implies  testing
exactly  the  writing  skill.  Furthermore,  it  is  totally  based  on  the
knowledge  how  to  organize  an  essay  with  all   necessary   paragraphs,
introductions and conclusions.

   Use of English or Structure and Written Expressions

   An import role in both tests is occupied by use of English or  as  it  is
called in TOEFL Structure and Written Expressions part. It aims  at  testing
the students’ knowledge of  grammar  and  vocabulary  used  in  the  English
   CFC offers the students a range of various activities and task to be done
during the testing time. They are multiple choice  cloze,  open  cloze,  key
word transformations, error correction  and  word  formation.  Whereas,  the
usual procedure of the same part in TOEFL test will mostly include multiple-
choice cloze and error correction.
   The multiple choice cloze in CFC will usually be in the form of a  gapped
text followed by fifteen multiple questions with  four  options,  as  always
the only one  will  be  the  correct.  It  will  mostly  be  concerned  with
vocabulary items or grammar issues (examples available  in  Appendix  p.44).
For example:
   Robin Williams was creative and gifted from an early  age.  He  was  a/an
(1)_______________child and at school was  always  a  (2)_____________pupil:
he wrestled, ran cross-country and worked (3)_____________at his studies.
   1. A imaginary B imaginative   C fantastic D mythical
   2. A classic        B model          C superior D spoilt
   3. A quickly        B easily         C hard           D fast
                                       Prodromou, First  Certificate  Star,

   Open cloze will mostly be presented in the form of a  text  with  several
spaces, which the students will have to complete with an  appropriate  word.
It will imply the students’ knowledge of grammar  and  vocabulary  and  will
involve the  students’  ability  to  predict  and  guess  from  the  context
(examples available in Appendix p.94). The task will be rather  complicated,
for it will not be a C-test type where the words  to  be  inserted  preserve
the initial letter or letters to make the guessing process  easier.  In  our
case the students will have to know how the words and phrases are  connected
together, how the sentences are linked, and  they  will  have  to  know  the
grammar forms and structures, so, for example, if they  see  have/has,  they
should immediately know that Present perfect is used. For example:

   When  you  join  the  International   Bird   Society,   your   membership
(1)_____________ make a positive difference to birds everywhere  –  even  if
the only ones you see are the blue tits…..
                                       Prodromou, First  Certificate  Star,

   Key word transformations will  make  the  students  alter  the  sentences
structures, however preserving the entire meaning of them.  They  will  have
to complete a sentence with a given word; here the  vocabulary  and  grammar
will be of major interest again (examples available in Appendix  p.86).  The
usual change will occur with phrasal verbs, active and passive voice,  verbs
and prepositions that go together, etc.:

   1. I didn’t like the story and I didn’t like the actors.          neither
   I ______________________the actors.
                                       Prodromou, First  Certificate  Star,

   Error correction  will  implement  the  students’  knowledge  of  grammar
structures. The students will receive a passage in which they will  have  to
find incorrect item and highlight it (examples available in Appendix  p.55).
Such types of activities will usually include an extra or unnecessary  word.
These  words   could   be   relative   pronouns,   prepositions,   articles,
conjunctions, etc. For example:

   ________ If you want to find out about someone’s personality, one way  of
to do it is to
   ________take a sample of their handwriting and analyse it; this is called
   ________graphology. To do graphology properly, it  is  important  to  use
fairly typical…..
                                  Prodromou, First Certificate Star, 1998

   Word formation will based on completing a text by making  an  appropriate
word form from a word  stem  given,  i.e.  discover  –  discovery  (examples
available in Appendix p.104). This part will  focus  mainly  on  vocabulary,
especially on word formation rules.  Here  the  knowledge  of  suffixes  and
prefixes will be essential for the students. For example:

   Who is mad? Cows or farmers?
   Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis is a (1)___________ brain    DEAD
   Disorder found amongst cows. As this medical term is almost
   (2) _________for the majority of ordinary  people  to  say,  the  illness
   is (3)________known as Mad Cow Disease.               POPULAR
                                  Prodromou, First Certificate Star, 1998

   Concerning TOEFL test, we might say that it is  similar  to  CFC  use  of
English; however, it displays just  several  types  of  tasks.  As  we  have
already mentioned they are  error  correction  and  multiple  choice  cloze.
Multiple choice cloze typically consists of a range of statements  in  which
there will be a certain grammar structure missing. It is  usually  based  on
grammar, than on vocabulary (examples available in Appendix p. 385  –  386).
The students will have to know how the subject and  predicate  go  together,
how the words and sentence parts are linked with each other. For example:

1. --------infinitely large number of undiscovered galaxies.
A) An
B) There are an
C) From an
D) Since there are
                       Gear, Cambridge preparation for the TOEFL test, 1996

   Error correction will differ from that in CFC, for in TOEFL test we  will
have a statement with the underlined words that are supposed  to  be  wrong.
The students will have to choose the correct variant (examples available  in
Appendix p. 387 – 390). It will usually be based on the students’  knowledge
of grammar items and word formation as well. For example:

   Drying food by means of solar energy is ancient process applied  wherever
food and climate conditions
     A            B               C           D
   make it possible.
                       Gear, Cambridge preparation for the TOEFL test, 1996

   In conclusion we can state that Use  of  English  is  both  discreet  and
integrative type of testing, for in some tasks of CFC the knowledge of  word
formation is demanded, but in some grammar will be included either.
   The Use of English of CFC and TOEFL will be a direct testing, for it will
test the students’ grammar and vocabulary knowledge.


   Speaking is another part of the test that is present in CFC  and  is  not
included into TOEFL test. It could be explained by  the  fact  that  if  the
student passes TOEFL test successfully, s/he will  be  interviewed  directly
at the place s/he needed the test for.
   Therefore, will briefly look at CFC speaking part and discuss it. It aims
at the students’ ability to use spoken  language  effectively  in  different
types  of  interaction.  The  students  could  be  asked  to  give  personal
information, talk about pictures and photographs, be involved in  pair  work
task or even in discussion.
   In personal information part the students could be asked  to  supply  the
personal  details  about  themselves:  i.e.  their  job,  family   position,
studies, etc.( examples available in Appendix 10 – 11).
   In describing pictures or photographs  they  will  have  to  share  their
opinion about them speaking with an examiner. There will  be  a  time  limit
set for the talk.
   In pair work task and discussion the students will be supplied either  by
pictures or photos or by charts and diagrams. They will be joined  in  pairs
and will have to carry out  the  task  together.  It  could  be  either  the
solving the problem, planning  something,  putting  something  in  order  or
discussing a certain topic. Discussion will certainly require the  students’
personal opinion and analysis of a topic  (examples  available  in  Appendix
   In CFC the students will have to  cooperate  with  another  interlocutor:
either the examiner or another participant.
   The author of the paper assume that this part  is  both  integrative  and
indirect testing. It is integrative,  for  it  will  involve  the  students’
knowledge  of  the  whole  aspects  of  the  language:   grammar,   sentence
structure, vocabulary, listening skills and may be even  reading  skills  if
the task will be written. To  communicate  successfully  the  students  will
require listening and comprehending the other speaker’s message to  respond.
Grammar should be accurate to produce a  good  and  correct  dialogue  or  a
monologue, for accuracy is an important factor there. The  rich  word  stock
will be inevitable element as well.
   Indirect testing means that the whole material  will  be  included  while
testing speaking skills.
   To conclude we can declare that CFC and TOEFL tests are both  integrative
and discreet point tests. They are also direct, however,  speaking  part  in
CFC could be defined as indirect one involving all four skills to be used.


       The present research attempted to investigate  the  essence  of  two
types of tests, such as TOEFL and CFC tests. The research has  achieved  the
initially set goals and objectives. It  dealt  with  the  basic  data  about
testing, where the author had displayed the ideas what was  the  essence  of
tests, why the students should be  tested,  what  consequences  could  tests
produce and whom they would mostly influence. Afterwards,  the  reasons  for
testing were discussed, where the author of the paper had  gradually  showed
why tests were significant in the  process  of  learning  and  the  role  of
testing in the teaching process. After the basic data  had  been  discussed,
the author came directly to types of testing. At that point  the  author  of
the research made an attempt to review various sources on the topic she  was
able to find. She had presented  the  definitions  of  the  types  of  tests
offered in Longman dictionary of LTAL and then had compared  them  with  the
definitions given by various authors. Later,  the  author  of  the  research
displayed the ways of their applications and reasons for that. She had  also
presented several examples of tests types in the  Appendix.  The  author  of
the paper had also discussed ways of testing, such as  discrete  point  test
and integrative test, objective and subjective tests,  direct  and  indirect
tests, etc. The attention was drawn to the significance of their  usage  and
the purpose for it. Furthermore, the discussion had  changed  the  focus  on
another important issue, such as tests formats and  approaches  for  testing
four language skills. Here the author had broadly and  explicitly  discussed
and analysed the tests  formats,  such  as  MCQs,  false/true  items,  cloze
tests, gap-filling tests, etc. She had  focused  on  their  application  and
skills for  which  they  are  used.  Moreover,  she  had  displayed  various
examples to  exemplify  each  test  format,  offering  several  of  them  in
Appendix of the paper. Likewise, a table with the language skills  and  test
formats applicable for them was attached to the work  as  well.  Further,  a
practical part in the form of the tests’ analysis was presented.
      The author of the paper had also dealt with the main issues  that  are
very vital and essential in analysis of the tests. She had  focused  on  the
reliability and validity of the tests and tried to trace them in  TOEFL  and
CFC tests. She had thoroughly discussed the tasks and  activities  composing
the tests designed to test the students’ language skills. Moreover, she  had
attempted to compare the  two  tests  and  find  out  any  similarities  and
differences between them. She had methodically  studied  each  part  of  the
tests, starting  from  reading  skills  finishing  with  speaking.  She  had
presented a  detailed  investigation  into  the  matter  together  with  the
examples that could be observed in Appendix, as well.
   Eventually, she had  gained  her  aim  having  checked  the  theory  into
practice and had proved  that  it  really  functioned  in  the  real  world.
Moreover, she had revealed that though being sometimes  different  in  their
purpose, design and structure, the TOEFL test and CFC test  are  constructed
according to the universally accepted pattern.
   Thus, the hypothesis of the present research has been confirmed.


1. The role of tests is very useful and important,  especially  in  language
   learning, for they indicates how much the learners have learnt  during  a
   course, as well as display the strength and weaknesses  of  the  teaching
   process and help the teacher improve it.

2. The tests can facilitate the students’ acquisition process  and  function
   as a tool to increase their motivation;  however,  too  much  of  testing
   could be disastrous changing  entirely  the  students’  attitude  towards
   learning  the  language,  especially   if   the   results   are   usually

3. Assessment and evaluation are important aspects for the teacher  and  the
   students and should  be  correlated  in  order  to  make  evaluation  and
   assessment “go hand in hand”.

4. The test should be valid and reliable. They should test what was  taught,
   taking  the  learner’s  individual  pace  into  account.  Moreover,   the
   instructions of the test should be unambiguous.

5. Validity deals with what is tested and degree to which  a  test  measures
   what is supposed to measure.

6. Reliability shows that the test’s results will be similar  and  will  not
   change if one and the same test will be given on various days.

7. There are four traditional categories  or  types  of  tests:  proficiency
   tests measuring how much of a language a  person  knows  or  has  learnt;
   achievement tests measuring a  language  someone  has  learned  during  a
   specific course,  study  or  program;  diagnostic  tests  displaying  the
   knowledge of the students or lack of it, and placement tests placing  the
   students at an appropriate level in a programme or a course.

8. There are two  important  aspect  direct  and  indirect  testing.  Direct
   testing means the involvement of a skill that is supposed to  be  tested,
   whereas indirect testing tests the usage of  the  language  in  real-life
   situation and is assumed to be more effective.

9. Discrete point  test  is  a  language  test  that  is  meant  to  test  a
   particular language item, whereas the integrative test intends  to  check
   several   language   skills   and   language   components   together   or

10. There are various tests formats, such  as  multiple-choice  tasks,  gap-
   filling tests, cloze tests, true/false statements,  etc.  used  to  check
   four language skills.

11. To enter any foreign university the students are supposed  to  take  the
   TOEFL or CFC tests. Besides, they can be taken to  reveal  the  student’s
   level of the English language.

12. Serving for almost similar purpose, however  being  sometimes  different
   in their design and structure,  the  TOEFL  and  CFC  tests  are  usually
   constructed according to the accepted universal pattern.


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