Testing Taboo

on Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Watching my students do their exams really gets my mind going about writing about testing and evaluation of English in our curriculum. It's really interesting to see the test split into the different sections - different aspects of the language are being tested. Of course, upper forms and lower forms have different sections (though some might seem similar).

I think that if you look at the details of the exam, you would find that it actually encompasses a wide range of compartments of English that might prove very valuable for testing. Simplistically, the test tries to handle both comprehension and grammar. More interestingly, I would like to talk about the balance between these 2 components in the exam.

Personally, I don't see many components of the exam testing a student grammatically. Which explains the second language idea because comprehensible input/output is one of the biggest issue in second language learning.

Let's take a look at the 1st paper of the lower forms:

SECTION A - Graphical Cues
SECTION B - Rational Cloze
SECTION C - Phrasal Verbs
SECTION D - Reading Comprehension
SECTION E - Literature

I think almost all the sections deal with comprehension accept the Rational Cloze. Sometimes, in the literature section, they could ask about definition but that's not a whole section dedicated to grammatical functions.

It clearly shows that there is a solid structure for testing the students. Therefore we should conclude that the original idea of the structure of the exam is VERY valid.

So why are the standards dropping?

Some things, you know... but you just can't say it.


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