Returning to Hughes (ibid.) we can emphasise his belief that this type of test is very useful for individual check. It means that this test could be applicable for checking a definite item; it is not necessary that it will cover broader topics of the language. However, further Hughes assumes that this test is rather difficult to design and the size of the test can be even impractical. It means that if the teacher wants to check the students knowledge of Present simple, s/he will require a great deal of examples for the students to choose from. It will demand a tiresome work from the teacher to compose such type of the test, and may even confuse the learners.
At that point we can allude to our experience in giving a diagnostic test in Form 5. It was the class the teacher had worked before and knew the students and their level rather good. However, new learners had joined the class, and the teacher had not a slightest idea about their abilities. It was obvious that the students worried about how they would accomplish the test and what marks would they receive. The teacher had ensured them that the test would not be evaluated by marks. It was necessary for the teacher to plan her future work. That was done to release the tension in the class and make the students get rid of the stress that might be crucial for the results. The students immediately felt free and set to work. Later when analysing and summarizing the results the teacher realized that the students knowledge was purely good. Certainly, there were the place the students required more practice; therefore during the next class the students were offered remedial activities on the points they had encountered any difficulties. Moreover, that was the case when the students were particularly interested in their marks.
To conclude, we can conceive that interpreting the results of diagnostic tests the teachers apart from predicting why the student has done the exercises the way s/he has, but not the other, will receive a significant information about his/her group s/he is going to work with and later use the information as a basis for the forming syllabus.
3.2 Placement tests
Another type of test we are intended to discuss is a placement test. Concerning Longman Dictionary of LTAL again (279-280) we can see that a placement test is a test that places the students at an appropriate level in a programme or a course. This term does not refer to the system and construction of the test, but to its usage purpose. According to Hughes (1989:7), this type of test is also used to decide which group or class the learner could be joined to. This statement is entirely supported by another scholar, such as Alderson (1996:216), who declares that this type of test is meant for showing the teacher the students level of the language ability. It will assist to put the student exactly in that group that responds his/her true abilities.
Heaton (ibid.) adheres that the following type of testing should be general and should purely focus on a vast range of topics of the language not on just specific one. Therefore, the placement test typically could be represented in the form of dictations, interviews, grammar tests, etc.
Moreover, according to Heaton (ibid.), the placement test should deal exactly with the language skills relevant to those that will be taught during a particular course. If our course includes development of writing skills required for politics, it is not appropriate to study writing required for medical purposes. Thus, Heaton (ibid.) presumes that is fairly important to analyse and study the syllabus beforehand. For the placement test is completely attributed to the future course programme. Furthermore, Hughes (ibid.) stresses that each institution will have its own placement tests meeting its needs. The test suitable for one institution will not suit the needs of another. Likewise, the matter of scoring is particularly significant in the case of placement tests, for the scores gathered serve as a basis for putting the students into different groups appropriate to their level.
At this point we can attempt to compare a placement test and diagnostic one. From the first sight these both types of tests could look similar. They both are given at the beginning of the study year and both are meant for distinguishing the students level of the current knowledge. However, if we consider the facts described in sub-chapter 2.1 we will see how they are different. A diagnostic test is meant for displaying a picture of the students general knowledge at the beginning of the study year for the teacher to plan further work and design an appropriate syllabus for his/her students. Whereas, a placement test is designed and given in order to use the information of the students knowledge for putting the students into groups according to their level of the language. Indeed, they are both used for teachers planning of the course their functions differ. A colleague of mine, who works at school, has informed me that they have used a placement test at the beginning of the year and it appeared to be relevant and efficient for her and her colleagues future teaching. The students were divided according to their English language abilities: the students with better knowledge were put together, whereas the weaker students formed their own group. It does not mean discrimination between the students. The teachers have explained the students the reason for such actions, why it was necessary they wanted to produce an appropriate teaching for each student taking his/her abilities into account. The teachers have altered their syllabus to meet the demands of the students. The result proved to be satisfying. The students with better knowledge progressed; no one halted them. The weaker students have gradually improved their knowledge, for they received due attention than it would be in a mixed group.
3.3 Progress test
Having discussed two types of tests that are usually used at the beginning, we can approach the test typically employed during the study year to check the students development. We will speak about a progress test. According to Alderson (1996:217), progress test will show the teacher whether the students have learnt the recently taught material successfully. Basically, the teacher intends to check certain items, not general topics covered during the school or study year. Commonly, it is not very long and is determined to check the recent material. Therefore, the teacher might expect his/her learners to get rather high scores. The following type is supposed to be used after the students have learnt either a set of units on a theme or have covered a definite topic of the language. It will display the teacher whether the material has been successfully acquired or the students need additional practice instead of starting a new material.
A progress test will basically display the activities based on the material the teacher is determined to check. To evaluate it the teacher can work out a certain system of points that later will compose a mark. Typically, such tests do not influence the students final mark at the end of the year.
The authorities of school demand the teachers to conduct progress tests, as well. However, the teachers themselves decide on the necessity of applying them. Nevertheless, we can claim that progress test is inevitable part of the learning process. We can even take a responsibility to declare that progress test facilitate the material acquisition in a way. The students preparing for the test look through the material again and there is a chance it can be transferred to their long-term memory.
Further, we can come to Alderson (ibid.) who presumes that such type of testing could function as a motivating fact for the learners, for success will develop the students confidence in their own knowledge and motivate them study further more vigorously. In case, there will be two or three students whose scores are rather low, the teacher should encourage them by providing support in future and imply the idea that studying hard will allow them to catch up with the rest of the students sooner or later. The author of the paper basing on her experience agrees with the statement, for she had noticed that weaker students when they had managed to write their test successfully became proud of their achievement and started working better.
However, if the majority of the class scores a rather low grade, the teacher should be cautious. This could be a signal that there is either something wrong with the teaching or the students are low motivated or lazy.
3.4 Achievement tests
Apart from a progress test the teachers employ another type achievement test. According to Longman Dictionary of LTAL (3), an achievement test is a test, which measures a language someone has learned during a specific course, study or program. Here the progress is significant and, therefore, is the main point tested.
Alderson (1996:219) posits that achievement tests are “more formal”, whereas Hughes (1989:8) assumes that this type of tests will fully involve teachers, for they will be responsible for the preparation of such tests and giving them to the learners. He repeats the dictionary defining the notion of achievement tests, adding just that success of the students, groups of students, or the courses.