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Module 4. Test Preparation and Specification

In developing a test from scratch, it might seem that we would begin the pro-cess by writing items. However, test development begins much earlier than item writing. Indeed, a number of issues must be carefully considered before creating even a single test item. This module presents these issues as a number of steps to be conducted during the early phases of test development. These steps, if fully embraced, will facilitate the writing of items and help ensure the development of a quality test. In many ways, the steps we take in developing a test prior to item writing are analogous to the steps a good researcher takes in preparation for conducting a study. Before conducting a study, the researcher must first define the objective of the investigation, determine the intended population to which he or she would like to generalize the results of the study, select an appropriate research methodology, and consider the appropriate analysis once data is collected. In the realm of testing, the test author must consider a set of related issues prior to item writing.