Home› Blog > detail

Periodic testing for ESL students

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that in school, I hated tests! The build up, revision, nerves, hated every aspect of testing. Now that I’m a teacher, I can see that test are, in fact, more about the teachers than the students. So long as we’re not talking about the GCSE’s, or the SATS, or the gao kao, I think that tests are purely used as indicators to show us, where students are slacking. 

So, how do we add tests into our classes without the added fear? Firstly, your students should be ready for a test without the need for a revision class. If your lesson planning is on point, and you do enough ‘free talk’ time in your ESL class, the students should be remembering everything they’re learning and being able to use what they’re learning on a regular basis, during classes. Tests are unfair if you’re not reviewing what you’re teaching regularly. 

Test should also be routine. If students know, when they’ll be tested and know roughly what they’ll be tested on, it gives them a fair chance to prepare for the test. So this is my recommended testing schedule: 

Test standards.

Tests are more like a review class. They shouldn’t be overly difficult, save that for the mid-terms etc. They should only be showing you; what students are having difficulties with, and what is and is not working in your classes. 


Many teachers will say it’s not necessary to test students spelling ability, and I agree to a certain degree. But I test spelling simply because it helps. The amount of correcting I used to do when marking homework was insane. In a few books I’d be correcting words like boy and girl. Easy words, that grade 6 students should be able to spell without thinking, and the reason was because they were forgetting all their phonics work, because it wasn’t being used. If you break down the keywords each time you begin a new unit into easy to sound out chunks, it helps students remember how to spell them. Sounds obvious, but when you have so much to cram into one class, it becomes easy to skip it. Then once the new words have been covered, you can give them a quick test of 8 words. Read them slowly and clearly to give students a fair chance of getting them correct. After, switch books with the person on your left and mark as a class. 


Most ESL books come with some kind of story/reading part in each unit. Once you’ve read it, review it, ask some simple questions about the content, then take the story/reading, change it into your own words and alter it a bit, write 5-10 questions about it, print it out, hand it out, and you’re done. Same as the spelling, once the test is finished, pass it to the student on the left and mark as a class. 


The listening test is nearly identical to the reading test, just with one difference…they listen and don’t read (bet you never saw that coming). Do the same as before with the reading, but just give them the questions. They then listen to the story 2 times and try to answer all the questions. Like before, pass to the left and mark together.

The unit test

As the title suggests, the unit test should be done whenever you finish the unit. I try to finish one unit in a month on average, Follow whatever your teaching goals are. 

The unit test should have a layout like this:



        1 part

            5 words to spell


        3 parts

            A story

            Number the pictures

            Choose the right word in a sentence


        1 part

            A passage with 5-10 questions about the content

That makes 5 parts, the remaining 5 parts should be reading and answering questions about the things they’ve learnt in the book. 

Tests add up to 100 marks so 10 marks per section of the test. Like I said before, tests are for revision purposes and should be indicators for you, showing you where you can improve as a teacher. 

Enjoy testing, I know they're horrible as a kid, but if you take it lightly, they will too. 

We hope you enjoyed reading this post. Remember to share with your friends and fellow teachers. Do you have anything to share? If so, get in touch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The TEFL Professional Development Institute’s FREE Online TEFL Certificate is your answer to: ‘How do I teach English as a second language?’. The TEFL Professional Development Institute has been created to modernise TEFL Teacher training. TEFL Teacher training SHOULD NOT be prohibitively expensive. Education liberates the mind it is the right of every person. The TEFL Professional Development Institute aims to modernise global TEFL Teacher training and TEFL Certification….[About]

Login in

Visit Us On Twitter Visit Us On Facebook Visit Us On GooglePlus Visit Us On Pinterest Visit Us On Youtube