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TKT Unit 17:

Assessment types
and tasks
Porntip Bodeepongse
What does assessment mean?
• It means judging learners’
performance by collecting
information about it.

• Assessment tasks are methods

we use for assessing learners.
Assessment types

 Informal assessment is when we

observe learners to see how well
they are doing something and
then give them comments on
their performance.
Assessment types (cont.)

 Formal assessment is when

we assess learners through
tests or exams and give their
work a mark or a grade.
Reasons for assessing learners
 At the beginning of a course we
might give them a test to find out
what they know and don’t know.
This is called a diagnostic test.
The information from the
assessment helps us decide what
to teach and which learners need
help in what areas of language.
 When Ss go to a language school,
the school may want to know what
level the Ss are, so they give them
a test. This is called a placement
test We use the information from
a placement test to decide what
level of class the learners should
go into.
 After we have finished teaching a part
of a course we may want to find out
how well learners have learnt it. This is
called formative assessment. If we use
a test for this purpose it is called a
progress test. We use the information
from formative assessment to decide
if we need to continue teaching this
area or not, and to give learners
feedback on their strengths and
difficulties in learning in this area.
 At the end of term or course, we
may assess learners to see how
well they have learnt the contents
of the whole course. This kind of
assessment is called achievement
or summative testing. Learners
usually receive a score or mark
from this kind of testing and
sometimes feedback on their
 Sometimes learners take tests to
see how good they are at a
language. This kind of test is
called a proficiency test. The
contents of the test are not
based on a course or syllabus
that the learner has followed.
• Learners can also assess
themselves (self-assessment) or
one another (peer assessment).
They usually do this informally with
checklists to guide them. The
reason for using both of these
kinds of assessment is to help
learners to understand their
language use and performance
better, and so become autonomous.
Different assessment tasks
• Gap-fill
• Multiple-choice questions
• True/ false questions
• Ordering
• Correcting mistakes
• Taking part in interviews
• Conversations or role-plays
• Writing letters or compositions
• Dictation
Differences between tasks
• Some tasks are like tasks we use
outside the classroom to communicate,
e.g. conversation, writing a letter,
reading leaflet for prices. These tasks
test communication skills.
• Some tasks, e.g. gap-fill, test the
accuracy of language use. We do not use
them to communicate, and they do not
test communication skills.
• Some tasks, such as gap-fill or choosing
between pairs of sounds, just test one
thing, e.g. learners’ knowledge of the
past tense, or their ability to
distinguish between sounds.
• Some tasks test many things together.
A composition, for example, tests
spelling, handwriting, punctuation,
grammar, vocabulary, organisation of
ideas and fluency of writing.
• A conversation can test
pronunciation, appropriacy,
accuracy, fluency and interaction.
• The answers to some kind of
assessment tasks are easy to mark
because they are either right or
wrong, e.g. in multiple-choice, true/
false. Gap-fill and dictation tasks.
These are called objective tests.
• Marking some kinds of tasks
involves many things together, e.g.
for writing: spelling, handwriting,
punctuation, grammar, vocabulary,
organisation of ideas. Learners may
do some of these things well but
others poorly. The mark we give to
the learners’ answers depends on
our judgement. These tasks are
called subjective tests.
• Another kind of assessment method
is a portfolio. This is a collection of
learners’ work, which the learner
creates him/herself, or with the
teacher, during a course. Often it
also contains comments on the work
written by the learner or
classmates. Portfolio can be used
for formal or informal assessment.
• Some informal assessment methods
are: observing learners’ spoken or
written work and answers to
comprehension tasks; keeping notes
on the learners’ performance;
asking learners to complete self- or
peer assessment sheets.
• We often use informal assessment
methods to assess areas such as
attitude and effort, particularly
with young learner and teenagers.
• Informal assessment is often
followed up by feedback to the
learners on the strengths and
weaknesses of their performance,
and suggestions for how to improve.
Food for thoughts
• Tests should have a good influence on
teaching and learning.
• Some assessment tasks are easy to
write and mark. But do they reflect
what we are teaching and what learners
need to use the language for?
• The content and methods of progress
and achievement tests should reflect
the content and methods of teaching.
• Feedback to learners on what they got
right or wrong, their strengths and
weaknesses, and what they can do to
improve is very important for their
• Informal assessment is often much
more suitable for assessing young
learners than formal assessment
because their ways of thinking and
learning are based on experiencing and