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Test question types

Writing a test is a tremendous task for every teacher. A good test has to give you a clear understanding of your students’ ability. There are many elicitation techniques that can be use when writing a test, but every teacher should be aware of chosen techniques limitations. Some techniques are effective for a group of learners while they are not that effective for other group or some techniques are good for testing grammar while they are not good for testing reading. Below is a list of the most used elicitation techniques.

Questions and answers

Simple questions, usually following a reading task. An answer is required in short or long form.

Example:
What is the relationship between John and Alice?

Multiple-choice

The question consists in two parts: the first part consists of a stem and the second part consists of a number of options (usually three of four). The student has to select the right option.

Example:
A person who drives planes is called:
a) a driver
b) a rider
c) a pilot

Gap-filling and completion

This is one of the most commonly used techniques. The student has to fill gaps and complete the sentence. The gaps may be signaled by a blank space or, to make the task a little bit more difficult, the gaps may not be signaled. The missing word can be given or not.

Example:
I (go) to Hanoi last week.
I _________ to Hanoi last week. (go)
A __________ is someone who flies planes.
I have been to Hanoi. (never)

Matching

There are two groups of words, phrases or sentences. The words from the first group have to be matched with the words from the second group.

Example:
Big Little
Small A lot
Sad Nice
Many Large
Beautiful Unhappy

True/False

A given statement has to be marked true or false. A variant of true/false is yes/no if the statement is a question.

Example:
You can use Present Continuous to express future actions. (true/false)
Can you use Present Continuous to express future actions? (yes/no)

Dictation

One of my favorites; the teacher dictates a text or even a set of words and the students have to write down.

Translation

The students are asked to translate a passage, a sentence or particularly words to or from English.

Cloze

Words in a piece of text are omitted at regular intervals.

Example:
Everybody _____ fine at home. I _____ sick last week but I’m fine _____. I spent all of my _____ week laying on the sofa and _____ TV. It was so boring _____ at home.

Transformation

A sentence is given by the teacher. The student has to transform the sentence according to some given instructions.

Example:
Instruction – Put the sentence into the Present Perfect.
I was in Hanoi.

Sentence construction

The student has to rearrange the words to form a correct sentence.

Example:
I/every/Saturday/friend/my/play/with/tennis
I play tennis every Saturday with my friend.

Error correction

The student has to find the error in a given sentence and correct it. What I noted is that an error can be corrected in more than one way.

Example:
My name Dan.

Rewriting

The student has to transform the given sentence but preserve the meaning.

Example:
He came to the party in spite of his busy schedule.
Although he had a busy schedule, he came to the party.


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