Steps to Follow When Preparing an Achievement Test

Tutors follow a set plan when preparing class assessment tests for reviewing content covered during class instruction. The main purpose of an assessment test is to measure how well students understand what they have learned in class. An administered test should incorporate outcomes that include creating, analyzing, and evaluating knowledge while also understanding how that knowledge is applied. This paper aims to illustrate the steps to follow when preparing a balanced test measuring various learning outcomes.

Before preparing a test, a teacher should first tabulate the teaching objectives as the intended learning outcomes. Test specifications provide a way to relate specific subject matter topics to the intended results (Gronlund & Waugh, 2008). Expanding the testing goals is desirable to make them more specific while maintaining a shorter list for a study unit and a comprehensive list for testing a whole course.

Following the specification of instructional objectives, a tutor should next outline test specifications as the next step in preparing an assessment test. The test specifications help describe and link the achievement domains measured to the course subject matter and provide guidelines for obtaining a representative sample of test tasks (Gronlund & Waugh, 2008). Gronlund & Waugh (2008) state that it incorporates the determination of outcomes to be evaluated, aligning them to subject matter, and creating a two-way chart. Various factors affecting the selection include previous results realized, the essence of the class, and the needs of the scholars.

Once the intended learning outcomes are enumerated and preparation of test specifications completed, a tutor should next construct the relevant test items. Gronlund & Waugh (2008) found that the assessment test quality depends on the ability of the test maker to match the specifications. The constructed test items can either be supply-type or selection-type. Supply-type items necessitate students to specify answers by themselves, whereas students are accorded possible answer sets in the selection-type item. These two test items can be alternately called recognition and recall items.

The arrangement of test items follows their creation in the previous step. The layout can vary and usually depends on the type of assessment test. Considerations for arranging test items include grouping items of the same form together, aligning those measuring the same outcome, and placing them in order of increasing difficulty (Gronlund & Waugh, 2008). Preparation of the test directions comes as the next step after arranging the test items. The test directions should be clear and to the point. They should be able to succinctly portray the purpose, the time allowed for completion, how to answer the test and whether to guess an answer when in doubt (Gronlund & Waugh, 2008). Provision of general and specific directions is advisable if the test contains two or more item types.

The last step is the administration and analysis of the test. Administering a test requires a favorable working environment with minimal interruptions, and adequate spacing to curtail cheating is provided to the scholars. As Gronlund & Waugh (2008) state, “the directions should be clear enough to make the test self-administering.” Analysis of the exam involves marking and scoring the answers to the exam. Marking the exam with a stencil of the answer sheet is an effective method as it indicates the correct answers missed for each question and leads to further discussion with the students (Gronlund & Waugh, 2008). The analysis and review of the test results helps to identify areas that may need further revision in class. By following the enumerated steps, a tutor can successfully prepare an assessment test that measures the knowledge gained by students in the course of their studies.


Gronlund, N. E., & Waugh, K. C. (2008). Assessment of Student Achievement (9th ed.). Pearson.

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ChalkyPapers. "Steps to Follow When Preparing an Achievement Test." April 15, 2023.