Steps in Constructing My Language Test


I’d like to share some steps in constructing a language test. Those are based on my experience in teaching Diploma III at STAN Jakarta. Some strategies are taken from Brown’s principles, with certain modification. Here they are:

First of all, I determine the objective of the test beforehand. For example, when I give a reading test, the purpose of it to test their reading skills, which can be seen from their abilty to deal with the types of reading questions.

Second, I enlist the test specifications as the outline of the test. This includes the time allocation, the skills tested, item types and tasks.

Third, I create the test tasks. The test tasks must be in line with objectives stated earlier. For example, I choose Multiple Choice  format for Reading Test for practicality purpose. I make the first draft of test items and tried them out in classroom teaching before administering them in the actual test. For the final version for the actual Reading Test, I make the parallel forms of the sample test.

Finally, I make the scoring criteria and feed back. For example, Reading Test items are each worth 1 point, so 100% correct answer will worth 20 points. Then each student’s score will be graded according to the letter grade of A, B, C, D, and E with certain comments of Excellent, Very Good, Good, OK, and Try to be More Careful Next Time. I also have to provide a brief information to student on which reading skill he/she has to improve.


To be precisely clear, the following is the summary example of my test construction for my students:
Type of test    :  Reading Test


Objective        :  1/ Students recognize the main idea

2/ Students know the details

3/ Students know the meaning from context


Specification  :  –    30 minutes, multiple choice format, 20 total items.

–          tasks: main idea, details, vocabulary


Sample Items

Directions        :  This test contains several passages, each followed by a number of questions. Read the passages, and for each question, choose the best answer—A, B, C, or D—based on what is stated in the passage or on what can be inferred from the passage.


(Passage 1)

When the people of Boston threw the tea from the English ships into the ocean, few of them, if any, realized that this was the start of the War of Independence. This war was a long and bloody struggle exacerbated by politicians out for personal gain.



  1. What is the best title for this passage?
    1. The Boston Tea Party
    2. The War of Independence
    3. American Politicians
    4. English Ship at War


  1. The word exacerbated in line 3 can be best replaced by ….
    1. aggravated
    2. exaggerated
    3. stopped
    4. continued


  1. What is the impetus of the War of Independence?
    1. The Boston politicians started a fight with Englishmen
    2. The people of Boston dumped English tea to the sea
    3. There was lack of tea at Boston
    4. People did not believe in the deal made by Boston politicians


Scoring Criteria: –   Each item is worth 1 point;  maximum total correct answer is 20 (=100%)

–           Grades for reading performance: 85-100% = A; 70-84% = B;  60-69% =  C; 50-59% = D; below 49% = E

–          Give comments on which skills need to be improved


Hopefully this sharing will give you some insight on language assessment. See ya! *=*

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