How to measure advanced level students' progress

Nina M. Koptyug, Ph.D., associate professor of English Lyceum # 130, Novosibirsk, Russia

No matter what textbook(s) you may use, you will need some special tasks for a lesson which is dedicated to measuring the progress of your advanced level students. These tasks should be different from the ones used regularly, and they should also differ from the customary tests. First of all, instead of a separate grammar or reading test, you offer a test which combines various aspects of language learning. Moreover, you may set a rather condensed time limit: while any exam presupposes a lot of time allotted for every aspect, and may even be conducted on various days, you may suggest that your students do all the four types of tasks on one day, usually within two standard periods of 45-50 minutes each.

Reading Skills
Tell your students that they are going to read a text from which several words have been removed. They should read the text and choose the necessary words from a list of 20. They should also change the form of the word where necessary. There are five words which they do not need to use. The score is 15 points.

Writing Skills
Tell your students that they are going to read a letter and write their own reply to it. They should find the five 'hidden' questions which they must answer. Warn them that the total score for the letter is 25 points, five for the answers, and twenty for the letter. One point is lost if there is a mistake in spelling, grammar, etc.

Finally, work out a system of points awarded for every task, and explain it to your students, so that they will be able to add up the score and see which one is really the best.

Repeat the testing in mid-term, or at the end of the term, using different tasks.

Note: this type of testing can be easily arranged in a class where you have one or two advanced level students only. You may give them worksheets while the class is engaged in some other activity.

Worksheet 1 - Reading

You are going to read a text about a town in Siberia, Russia. Several words have been removed from the text. Read the text, and choose the words from the list below. There are five words which you do not need to use. Use each word only once. Change the form of the word where necessary.

Akademgorodok was (1) ... in 1957. It is officially called the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science. This academic community is situated about thirty kilometers from the (2)... center, but it is considered to be part of Novosibirsk. It is well-planned, the architects even received (3) ... state award for their work. When you come into the town, first you see what's called the Builders District. It was decided that the very first blocks of (4) ... should be given to those who build the town, and it was a good (5)... Then you go on along several streets where most of the research institutes are (6)... At the beginning of Morskoy prospect, which is the (7)... street in town, you see the Presidium building. The people who live in Akademgorodok have a (8)... of imagination, and they loved building this new town. They gave all the streets and places unusual and colorful names. 'Morskoy' means 'Sea', the street goes all across town straight to the beach and (9)... Ob Sea, an artificial water reservoir. There are exotic names like The Golden Valley Street, which got its name (10)... autumn, or Pearly Street, which branches off Morskoy Prospect.
Novosibirsk State University (11)... also located in Akademgorodok. There are several museums, an English-speaking school, the House of Scientists, where various meetings and conferences are held, and the Botanical Garden. When building this town, the architects counted (12)... single tree and tried to preserve as much of the natural environment (13)... possible. For example, the English school, (14)... occupies 1,500 square meters, was built on a clearing in the woods. Not a single tree was cut down, and all the trees that now stand around the school grounds are the original forest plants.
Most visitors are charmed by the town's originality of design and (15)... unique natural environment.

find, decide, city, at, the, flat, which, many, situation, that, a, its, in, their, every, main, as, lots, be, found

1 - founded; 2 - city; 3 - a; 4 - flats; 5 - decision; 6 - situated; 7 - main; 8 - lot; 9 - the; 10 - in; 11 - is; 12 - every; 13 - as; 14 - which; 15 – its

Words you do not need to use: find; many; their; that; at

Worksheet 2 – Writing

Read the following letter. Find the five hidden questions which require answers, in addition to several direct questions asked in the letter. Then write your own reply to this letter. The reply should not be longer than 200 words.

Dear Friend,
We have finally obtained our visas, now is the time to plan! We'll book the tickets next week, and start packing. Since we're coming in winter, we'd appreciate your advice on some of the points. Do we take the warmest clothes and shoes? Is it necessary to bring our own skis, or can we rent them? How do we get to your place from the airport? We think that $100 is enough for two weeks. We are sure that there will be time to visit some places of interest, too.
Please do not hesitate to tell us if you want us to bring something special for you and your family.
Yours, ….

The five hidden questions suggested here are:
1. Do we need any other documents, besides the visas?
2. Are there any things we should not pack?
3. Are ski shoes rented together with the skis?
4. How much money does one need for two weeks?
5. Are there any places of interest?

If your students come up with some other "hidden questions", let them.
Be sure to tell them that the original letter contains 114 words, so that they should compose a letter which is about twice the length of this one.