Language testers are often asked what is ‘the best testing technique’ or ‘the best test’.
A. Hughes in his book “Testing for Languages Teachers” writes
“In fact there is no best test or best technique. A test which proves ideal for one purpose may be quite useless for another; a technique which may work very well in one situation can be entirely inappropriate in another.” (p.6)
We can assume that each testing situation is unique and presents particular problems. It is the testing team’s job to find the best solution to those problems. The two aims of this book are to inform the reader about different techniques that exist in the world of testing and provide the reader a chance to practice different techniques which will help the reader achieve better results in testing.
Acknowledgements The first unit Testing Reading of the textbook Testing Techniques Course was developed, formatted, and edited by Ausrele Pranculiene, Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania, Training and Doctrine Command.
The author wishes to thank the instructors Barbara Peterson and Michele Miller for their assistance and support in developing this material.
8th August, 2002 Ausrele Pranculiene
Some Test Taking Tips
If you practice all the samples of questions presented in this book, you will do some of the best preparation possible to maximize your performance on the STANAG 6001 test. You will get familiar with test instructions and sample questions. Also, you will be able to evaluate how well you can perform on different level test tasks.
Dean Papjohn in his book Toward Speaking Excellenc highlights that, “Health,stress, environment, and other factors can have an effect on your final test performance as well. ’’(p.111) He also lists some general guidelines for taking tests. Some of these suggestions come from his book, the others from the different Internet sites. You might find them useful as well.
Before the test
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
2. Arrive early instead of barely on time. If you don’t know where the test site is, locate it prior to the test date.
3. Be positive about the test. Visualize yourself competently answering each question and push negative thoughts aside.
4. Ask the test proctor any questions you have before the test actually begins.
5. Prepare for the test well in advance. Avoid cramming the night before the test.
During the test
6. Give your complete attention to each question. Don’t become distracted by noise or other examinees.
7. Listen to and read instructions carefully.
8. If you can’t answer a question, leave it for a while and return to it later.
9. Plan how you will use your time during the exam.
10. Don’t leave any questions unanswered. In many questions if you don’t know the answer, at least you have a chance of guessing.
11. If you have any time left over, edit, check, and proofread your answers. Use all the time available to eliminate careless errors and to improve your answers as much as possible.
12. Be careful not to give any impression of cheating.
13. Do not be disturbed about other students finishing before you do. Take your time, don’t panic, and you will do much better on the test.
After the test
14. Don’t discuss the details of the test; this may produce more anxiety for you.
15. Reward yourself by doing something you enjoy.
16. Remember, test scores do not place a value on your individual human worth!
1. Needs Analysis
The need for developing the Testing Techniques Course (TTC) dates back to 1999 when the first officers, NCOs and civilians working for the Lithuanian MoD had to be tested according to STANAG 6001 in four skills of the English language - listening, speaking, reading and writing. The authentic material and exercises in this self-study course will help students to get oriented in the maze of different testing techniques. Moreover, this course will afford students a greater possibility to improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The idea of this project came from informal interviews with the instructors and oral feedback from officers, students and soldiers from the Lithuanian Army and MoD.
Lithuanian officers and NCOs increasingly take part in international operations and NATO/PfP military exercises. Lithuania is aspiring to become a member of NATO. Naturally, a lot of military people are being tested to know what level of English they have and whether they will be able to cope with tasks they will face on missions. In Lithuania we test military personnel according to STANAG 6001. Testing reading and listening involves different techniques, not only multiple choice items. First of all, familiarization with testing techniques will add confidence to the testees. Secondly, not all people who take the tests come immediately after an English course, so this book will be a great help to review one's knowledge of English. Lastly, it will lessen the stress and, hopefully, help students to perform better on the test and overcome test anxiety.
2. Student Profile
The TTC is designed for officers, NCOs and civilians working for the Lithuanian MoD who need to be tested in STANAG 6001. Their ages range from 18 to 55. It is a self-study multilevel course, so the duration of it is variable. There are no restrictions as far as the level of students' language proficiency or academic experience is concerned. However, it is strongly recommended that the users of the course have mastered some basic skills in English.
The course is a self-study one. It consists of four units, each one comprising a different skill of the English Language - listening, speaking, reading or writing. Students will get acquainted with different techniques of testing, and, at the same time, they will improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through the use of authentic materials and samples of different testing techniques.