Captain Fantastic: How to write a good test!

Writing a good Test does require some mind mapping if you will, in order for both the Test giver and Test taker to benefit from it. Just as you need to think of the questions you will add into your Test, you also need to consider asking yourself some questions, in order to create your Test.

Test Creation Checklist:

Why oh Why am I doing this: Why am I giving this Test?

  • Product and skills assesments for employees
  • Test student's knowledge of a course or class
  • Gain feedback on a service or product
  • Marketing to promote a brand
  • Mock exams to prepare users for actual Tests
  • Recruit candidates for potential employment opportunities
  • Identify problematic areas
  • Identify skill sets
  • Refresher quizzes to touch up on previous materials learned
  • Test to go towards an overall grade
  • Because it's Friday and I feel like being evil with a pop quiz!

Do I Look Like Einstein: Who am I writing the Test for?

  • Business or Education users?
  • Consider everyone - ensure the learning level of content works for all taking it.
  • Vocabulary - use words and terms that all can understand. If you have to look it up, maybe keep it out.
  • Make the Test challenging but not beyond the user's learning capabilities. Too tough and it will discourage your users.
  • Not too easy however, where you are giving away the answers.

Is There a Recipe for This: What can I add into my Test?

  • Different question types
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Documents
  • Custom feedback to provide reference and info on answered questions
  • Humor - it's ok to add some of this, it'll make users more relaxed!

Location, Location, Location: Where are my Test takers located?

  • Remember locations have different time zones. If having Start/End Times, take this into consideration.
  • Some locations may not have the same types of internet connections. Consider this when adding lots of media to one page (audio, video, images) and when setting time limits.

The Results Are In: What data do I want to extract from results?

  • Individual results:
    Great for reviewing an individual's progress,
  • Group results
    Great for viewing results for a group of users as a whole,
  • Category results
    Great for viewing how each category performs for a single user or group.
  • Question statistics
    Great for viewing what questions users are having difficulties with.

Answering these questions will provide you with an outline and a direction of where you want to go with your Test, which will make the Test creation process easier.

When your Tests have been completed, the results are in and you can answer 'yes' to the following questions:

  1. Did your users learn what you had wanted them to from this Test?
  2. Did your Test contain the material that you have been teaching?
  3. Do you think your users benefited from taking this Test?

If yes, than pat yourself on the back because you've created a great Test!

Consider this

Suggestions for Creating Effective Tests

  • Use Categories to organize questions

    These will come in handy if you want to use randomly selected questions, which pulls questions at random from different categories you choose within your Question Bank. Another benefit is being able to view results by category!

  • Add a variety of question types

    Get creative with Tests - add various question types and content to mix it up. Tests should be thought invoking - not sleep invoking!

  • Correct your auto-correct

    If using a device such as a phone, iPad, etc., to create Tests - be sure to check what auto-correct has added, as it's creative or perhaps humorous contribution. Good advice to follow is - always double-check your work!

  • Give Pre and Post Tests

    Giving a pre Test prior to users going through a course and then providing the Test once they have completed it, is a great way to analyze if users have progressed with learning the materials and what areas still may need further educating.

  • Get a second opinion!

    Once you have created your Test, have a colleague or two...or five, take your Test and provide you with their feedback, prior to giving it to your users. They may see something that you overlooked.

Tips

Tips for creating the perfect Test

  • Write clear and precise Test instructions
  • Add easy questions first working up to more difficult ones
  • Shorter Tests, more frequently keep users engaged
  • Write all content in your own wording
  • Include learning materials (audio, video, images, documents)
  • Add relevant content to what's being taught
  • Add certificates. Receiving these will motivate your users
  • Add Feedback. Users will appreciate this
  • Add questions from previously taken practice Tests/assignments on same content
  • Display the point value for each question within the Test
  • Check for duplicate questions
  • Randomize questions, especially if giving multiple attempts
  • Use randomly selected questions (pulled at random) to provide a 'new' Test each time
  • Add a catchy title to your Test

Do's and Don'ts

The Do's and Don'ts when creating Tests

Do

  • Allow enough time if using a timer
  • Always double-check for errors
  • Always use in-page buttons for navigation
  • Use the most updated version of a browser
  • Create a Test that users can complete successfully
  • Create a separate Test for sensitive questions and set to anonymous

Do not

  • Set a 5 minute timer on a 200 question Test
  • Rely on auto-correct as your proof-reader
  • Use the 'back' button when saving changes
  • Use the 'vintage' version of a browser
  • Trick users with impossible questions
  • Include questions of a sensitive nature in a Test where users have to give their name/email