What should I consider when creating a test?

When designing a test, either discrete point or authentic, the first things to consider are purpose, content, scope, and level.

  • Purpose of the test - Will the test be used to measure students' mastery of content or will it be used to check whether students completed a reading assignment? These are two very different test purposes that call for different questions, different levels of difficulty, and possibly different scoring mechanisms.
  • Content Areas - What areas of the course content will the test include? Will it be comprehensive or will it focus on a single unit or module? What learning objectives will the test focus on?
  • Scope and amount of content areas - How long will the test be? How many points will be assigned to it? If it will include more than one content area, how many questions will it have on each content area?
  • Level of performance (easy or difficult) - This also depends on the purpose of the test. Do you want the test to be sufficiently difficult so that it separates students based on knowledge and ability? Or are you simply trying to measure basic knowledge as a check before proceeding with further content?
Last updated: Aug 24, 2011