n Do not make the correct answer a giveaway word that could be guessed by students who
do not really know the information. In addition, avoid giving grammatical cues or other
cues to the correct answer.
n Avoid using statements taken directly from the curriculum.
n Develop grading criteria that lists all acceptable answers to the test item. Have subject
matter experts determine the acceptable answers.
ESSAY TEST ITEM DEVELOPMENT
The essay test item requires the student to answer a question with an original written
response. Use comprehension essay test items for testing the students ability to organize data
and express thoughts clearly in writing. Do not use them to test recall. Essay tests involve a
relatively subjective scoring process since many factors may enter into the correctness of a
The disadvantage to essay test items is that they are time-consuming and difficult to score.
The essay item must be scored by an individual knowledgeable in the subject area, unless only
one basic response is possible to a given question or requirement,
Test Item Format
You can use an essay question to assess learning of a comparatively large body of
information, as well as individual elements within that body. Use the following guidelines for
formatting the essay test item:
State clearly and precisely what type of response is required.
If possible, place limits on the response by identifying the major points the students should
address, the length of the response required, or time students may spend on the response.
EXAMPLE: Compare the gas turbine and the 1200 PSI propulsion plants. Your
discussion should include descriptions of the major components of each system. Partial
credit will be given.
The following are examples of types of information for which you might want to use essay
n A comparison or contrast of items and procedures.
n A decision for or against system or equipment operation.
n Relationships such as causes and effects.
n Illustration (sketch) of principles learned.
n Statement of purpose in the selection of a method or technique.
n Criticism of the adequacy or correctness of a diagram or procedure.