Examining the Features of an English Language Test: Reliability-related Issues

Document Type : Research Paper


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Most universities across Iran tend to develop English tests for placement, exit, achievement, and other purposes. Examining the various features of such tests is imperative for making informed decisions about learners’ achievement level. The present study examined the features of a university-wide administered English language achievement test at Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST). The characteristics of the test including reliability, item facility/difficulty, and item discrimination were examined. The reliability estimates showed that the test had a relatively acceptable level of reliability. However, it was relatively easy, and the majority of the items had a rather low discrimination power.Moreover, all the subsections of the test were found to contribute significantly to the overall achievement of the participants. It was concluded that more attention needs to be paid to the difficulty and discrimination characteristics of such achievement tests assigned on a large scale across universities. Suggestions are made about how more accountable decisions can be made to have fair tests for language achievement purposes.