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Test Writing 101

April 26, 2017

While it’s always good to be creative and innovative when it comes to writing test questions, you should know the best practices and mistakes to avoid. 
 
BEST PRACTICES
 
Design 
  • Plan the structure of a test to include the proper sampling of content which acts as a blueprint for the exam.
  • Test length is critical. True/False questions on average require a minimum of 30 seconds, and multiple choice require a minute.
  • Have another instructor review your test for clarity of directions and questions.
     
Content
  • Provide clear and concise directions at the beginning of the assessment.
  • Start with a few simple questions to ease student test anxiety and build confidence.
  • Tests should include homogenous content.
 
MISTAKES TO AVOID
 
Design 
  • Tests that are too short. These tests may provide an inadequate sample of content.
  • Tests that are not properly aligned with a course’s intended learning outcomes.
  • Inclusion of extraneous ideas and skills.
     
Content
  • Inclusion of test content that has not been recently taught.
  • Grammatical errors.
  • The use of questions which only assess knowledge of facts.