10 tips to make your English test space a better place
April 9, 2015 | By: Jessica O'Boyle
Categories: English Placement

It’s that time again. Maybe classes are about to start and you need to give your new nonnative speakers of English a placement test. Or maybe it’s time to measure the progress your current students have made. Either way, test day is rapidly approaching. It’s probably not anyone’s favorite day on the calendar, and it’s natural that it will cause some stress for everyone. (There’s also a pretty good chance the test you’ll use is a bit, umm, shall we say, out of date?!)

The good news is that with a few checks and a little preparation, you can help reduce some of the day’s typical frustrations. As you get ready to test, here are some test space and day-of-test tips to help your job go a bit more smoothly.

1. Make sure your test materials are secure

blog-test-space-secureNever leave any test materials unattended or out of your sight before, during, or after testing.

2. Count the test materials & read through your administration manual

Be prepared in the event that any irregularities occur. (And trust us, they will.) Remember that electronics can fail. Have you checked to make sure your audio player works?

3. Check the room temperature and lighting

Will your test takers have sufficient lighting for the exam? Also, at the hour you’re scheduled to give the test, make sure the room won’t be too warm or too cold. That sun shining through the window in the middle of the afternoon can turn a comfy room into a greenhouse!

4. Greet your candidates at the door

Use a roster to check candidate names against their IDs to ensure that you have the correct person sitting for the test.

  • Document where students sit during the test so you can refer back (in the event of any irregularities after the test)
  • We recommend creating a seating chart, using the roster, before the test day
  • Make randomized seat assignments


5. Help the candidates feel comfortable

Once the test takers are all seated, be very clear about your rules for testing. For example:

  • Are they allowed to get up to sharpen their pencil?
  • Will you have spare pencils at the ready?
  • What’s your bathroom policy?
  • Can they have food, or drink, or both?
  • Will students have to remain seated if they are done with the test and others are still finishing?

You may want to think about posting your test-day rules on the board or the walls.


6. Limit testing distractions

blog-test-space-phoneIs there construction happening near your testing space? Will there be constant noise in the building or hallways?

Believe it or not, one of the biggest distractions for candidates in a testing environment is the sound of sniffling noses, so put some tissues in the room. Post a few signs in the hall outside the room to let people know to hush.

Help reduce noise levels and distractions while testing!

7. Watch for cheating!

Yes. Cheating happens. More often than you think.

And even though you probably trust your students, English language tests can be very important for some of them. On test day, it is possible that a few of your students may find themselves inclined to do something dishonest. (Again, it happens.)

  • Walk around the testing environment
  • Make sure that no one is trying to pull a fast one on you
  • Enlist the help of other staff
  • If possible have two proctors in the room for every 30 candidates you are testing

8. Have a plan for personal belongings

You don’t want your students checking their mobile devices or rummaging in their bookbags during the test. Where will you have them store the items they bring with them? Determine what procedures you’ll follow for coats, food, drink, and other personal belongings.

9. Watch the time

blog-test-space-clockHave a working clock in the room. Make announcements at appropriate intervals as to how much time is left. Make sure you let them know when time is almost up.

10. Collect all testing materials once the test is complete

Don’t forget to account for all tests and materials before dismissing students.

Good luck!

We wish you the best (and least stressful) English language testing possible. Do you have any procedures you’d like to share? Tweet us (#TestSpaceTips) and we’ll collect your suggestions for future articles.

Check out our guide for Choosing and Using an English Placement Test: Where to Begin?

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