Reliability, Validity and Practicality


A reliable test means that it should give the same results for similar groups of students and with different people marking.

• Keep the instruction language simple and give an example.

• Use language that is similar to what you’ve used in class, so as not to confuse students.

• If possible, ask a colleague to do the test before you use it with students.

• For testing productive skills such as writing and speaking, have two markers and use standard written criteria.


To make a valid test, you must be clear about what you are testing.

• Always test what you have taught and can reasonably expect your students to know.

• To test writing with a question where your students don’t have enough background knowledge is unfair. Likewise, testing speaking where they are expected to respond to a reading passage they can’t understand will not be a good test of their speaking skills.


No matter how valid or reliable a test is, it has to be practical to make and to take.

• Tests should be economical to deliver.

• The layout should be easy to follow and understand.



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