Evaluating student performance through tests and assessments plays a large role in measuring student success. The information that educators gain from these help format methods of instruction and advance student learning. Tests and assessments typically fall into three categories: summative, benchmark, and formative. Once you identify and understand the testing category, you can then begin to write your test questions.

The process for writing test items falls into five basic steps*:

  1. Define your learning targets
  2. Identify an assessment format
  3. Develop test items
  4. Pilot the test
  5. Analyze the results

Once you determine your goal, it’s time to create your questions. There are a lot of question formats to consider: multiple choice, true or false, fill-in-the-blank, open-ended, essay, and performance assessments. Each format has a different strength, so it is important to keep in mind what you are looking to analyze and what your students need to showcase.

You also want to check that your test questions align with your teaching style, language, and expectations. Piloting a new test with a class or group of students allows you to assess the effectiveness of your questions and view any potential poorly-worded questions. Poorly-worded questions could be due to a lack of clarity in language. This test run also allows you to maximize alignment with the standards-based learning targets.

Lastly, you want to analyze the results. It is important to review the test results and determine how individual students as well as the entire class have performed. Understand what your students know and what they were unable to grasp is vital in determining your next steps for instruction, changes in the curriculum, or student self-help activities. Apperson has item analysis forms that allow you to view the scores of individual students, classroom averages, specific test question results, and more. Check out our available item analysis forms here!

Looking for specific tips and tricks to writing test questions? Download our FREE white paper that goes over all these testing formats, steps, and question styles in detail!

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*Information and white paper from Nancy Sindelar, national consultant and university professor