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A workshop on Writing Test Specification for Language Tests. By Mohammad Rahimi Professor of ESL Shiraz University. Components of tes specifications. 1. General Description (GD):

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a workshop on writing test specification for language tests

A workshop on Writing Test Specification for Language Tests


Mohammad Rahimi

Professor of ESL

Shiraz University

components of tes specifications
Components of tes specifications
  • 1. General Description (GD):

Indicates the behavior or the skill to be assessed; gives a statement of purpose, the reason or motivation for assessing the particular skill.

example of gd
Example of GD
  • It is important for learners in an ESL environment to know how to write letters of complaint which are culturally appropriate. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of cultural appropriateness by using proper letter format, relevant information, and proper register.
example of gd1
Example of GD
  • The students will be able to guess the meaning of certain vocabulary words from context. The texts and words will be of both a scientific/technical and a general/nontechnical nature, to tap into the students’ background knowledge of a variety of areas.
  • 2. Prompt Attribute (PA)
  • The component of the spec that details what will be given to the test taker.
  • Entails the selection of an item or task format, such as multiple-choice (MC), oral interview or written essay.
  • Provides a detailed description of what test takers will be asked to do, including the form of what they will be presented with in the test item or task, to demonstrate their knowledge or ability in relation to the criterion being tested.
example of pa
Example of PA
  • The student will be asked to write a letter of complaint following a “role play” situation. Each student will be given a card which includes his role, the role of the addressee, and a minimum of one more piece of relevant information (detailed in the accompanying Specification Supplement) concerning a complaint about a business product.
example of pa cont
Example of PA cont.
  • Requirements for the Text: The texts should be both scientific and general in nature.Theyshould not be overly simplified and may be authentic texts that the students have already seen. Sources include: Scientific American, Omni, Science Digest, Reading by All Means (Dubin and Olshtain, 1981), and any other textbooks that contain one to two medium-length paragraphs containing words fitting the following requirements.
example of pa cont1
Example of PA cont.
  • The words should be examples of:
  • a. Cognates, both exactly matching with Spanish and not exactly matching
  • b. Words repeated in the text
  • c. Prefixes and suffixes
  • d. Technical and nontechnical words
example of pa cont2
Example of PA cont.
  • Description of the Test Item:
  • There will be a total of ten items from two to three texts. Five items will have Multiple-Choice (MC) format for the Meaning section, and five items will be fill-in-the-blank format for the Meaning section.
  • 3. Response Attributes (RA):
  • Describes what should happen when the test taker responds to sth given in PR.
example of ra
Example of RA
  • The student will write a letter of complaint to describe his problem. This implies that his letter will contain relevant information, and be written in proper letter format and proper register (see Specification Supplement).
  • Another example:
  • The students will mark their answers on the question sheet, filling in the blank or circling the letter of the best alternative.
sample item
Sample Item
  • SI (the student will receive a printed card.): You are a regular donor of blood to the International Red Cross. Recently, you went to donate blood and were not accepted during the initial screening interview.Your health has not changed in the last year or so: the reason for the denial is that the Red Cross has strengthened its requirements to accept blood, and a minor health condition (many years ago) now prevents you from donating. Previously, this minor condition was never a problem when you donated blood; now it suddenly is. Write a letter of complaint to the Red Cross about this situation.
sample item1
Sample Item
  • This section is divided into two parts. Both parts ask you to indicate the context clues that helped you determine the meaning of the vocabulary item. The first question asks you to choose from four alternatives indicating the meaning of the vocabulary item, and the second question asks you to give the meaning of the vocabulary item in Persian.
  • 4. Specification Supplement (SS):
  • An optional component, designed to allow the spec to include as much detail and information as possible without cluttering the GD, PA, and RA components.
example of ss
Example of SS
  • SS: Relevant information for a letter of complaint about a business product should include the following factors:
  • Who (who the sender of the letter is) (optional), e.g., housewife, secretary of a company, student, etc.
  • What (what the problem is/what the product is), e.g., item damaged at time of purchase; broken very shortly after purchase but not complainee’s fault; not satisfied with quality of the item, etc.
  • Where (where the product was purchased)
  • When (when the product was purchased and/or when problem occurred) etc.
test spec b p model cont
Test spec (B&P model) cont.
  • • Purpose: an explicit statement of how the test item/task should be used.
  • • Definition of the construct: a detailed description of the construct, or particular aspect of language ability, that is being tested. This includes the inferences that can be made from the test scores, which overlaps with the purpose of the test.
  • • Setting: a listing of the characteristics—physical location, participants, and time of administration—for the setting in which the test will take place.
  • • Time allotment: the amount of time allowed for completing a particular
  • set of items or a task on the test.
test spec b p model
Test spec (B&P model)
  • • Instructions: a listing of the language to be used in the directions to the test takers for the particular item/task.
  • • Characteristics of the input and expected response: essentially a description of what will be presented to the test takers (i.e., PA) and what they will be expected to do with it (i.e., RA).
  • • Scoring method: a description of how the test taker response will be evaluated.
reverse engineering re
Reverse Engineering (RE)
  • The creation of a test spec from representative test items/tasks.
example of re
Example of RE
  • 1. Charles sent the package __________ Chicago.
  • *a. to
  • b.on
  • c.at
  • d. with
  • 2. Mary put the paper __________ the folder.
  • a. at
  • b. for
  • *c. in
  • d. to
  • 3. Steven turned __________ the radio.
  • *a.on
  • b. at
  • c. with
  • d. to