2nd Edition

Practical Language Testing

By Glenn Fulcher Copyright 2025
    338 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    338 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Practical Language Testing equips you with the skills, knowledge and principles necessary to understand and construct language tests. This practical guide offers step-by-step guidelines on the design of assessments within the classroom, and provides the necessary tools to analyse and improve assessments, as well as deal with alignment to externally imposed standards. Testing is situated both within the classroom and within the larger social context, and readers are provided the knowledge necessary to make realistic and fair decisions about the use and implementation of tests.


    Now in its second edition, this respected text has been substantially revised and updated, including a new chapter on validity drawing from the author's Messick Award-winning award for innovation in validity theory and practice. It also includes expended coverage of standardised testing and learning oriented assessment, and introduces task design features, including authenticity, and automated assessment.


    With its frequently updated online resources to support language assessment, this book is the ideal introduction for students of applied linguistics, TESOL and modern foreign language teaching, as well as practicing teachers required to design or implement language testing programmes.


    Practical Language Testing was commended as a 2012 runner-up of the prestigious SAGE/ILTA Award for Best Book on Language Testing.



    Chapter 1 - Testing and assessment in context

    1.      Test purpose

    2.      Tests in educational systems

    3.      Testing rituals

    4.      Unintended consequences

    5.      Testing and society

    6.      Historical interlude I

    7.      The politics of language testing

    8.      Historical interlude II

    9.      Professionalising language education and testing

    10.  Validity

    Chapter 1a - Activities

    Chapter 2 - Standardised testing

    1.      Two paradigms

    2.      Testing as science

    3.      What’s in a curve?

    4.      The curve and score meaning

    5.      Putting it into practice

    6.      Test scores in a consumer age

    7.      Testing the test

    8.      Introducing reliability

    9.      Calculating reliability

    10.  Living with uncertainty

    11.  Reliability and test length

    12.  Relationships with other measures

    13.  Measurement

    Chapter 2a - Activities

    Chapter 3 - Classroom assessment

    1.      Life at the chalk-face

    2.      Assessment for learning

    3.      Self- and peer-assessment

    4.      Dynamic assessment

    5.      Understanding change

    6.      Assessment and second language acquisition

    7.      Criterion-referenced testing

    8.      Dependability

    9.      Assessment literacy

    Chapter 3a - Activities

    Chapter 4 - Deciding what to test

    1.      The test design cycle

    2.      Construct definition

    3.      Where do constructs come from?

    4.      Models of communicative competence

    5.      From definition to design

    Chapter 4a - Activities

    Chapter 5 - Designing test specifications

    1.      What are the test specifications?

    2.      Specifications for testing and teaching

    3.      A sample detailed specification for reading test

    4.      Granularity

    5.      Performance conditions

    6.      Target language use domain analysis

    7.      Accommodations

    8.      Back and forth

    Chapter 5a - Activities

    Chapter 6 - Evaluating, prototyping and piloting

    1.      Investigating usefulness and usability

    2.      Evaluating items, tasks and specifications

    3.      Guidelines for multiple-choice items

    4.      Prototyping

    5.      Piloting

    6.      Field testing

    7.      Item shells

    8.      Operational item review and pre-testing

    Chapter 6a - Activities

    Chapter 7 - Scoring language tests

    1.      Scoring items

    2.      Scorability

    3.      Scoring constructed response tasks

    4.      Automated scoring

    5.      Corrections for guessing

    6.      Avoiding own goals

    Chapter 7a Activities

    Chapter 8 - Aligning tests to standards

    1.      It’s as old as the hills

    2.      The definition of ‘standards’

    3.      The uses of standrads

    4.      Unintended consequences revisited

    5.      Using standards for harmonisation and identity

    6.      How many standards can we afford?

    7.      Performance level descriptors (PLD) and test scores

    8.      Some initial decisions

    9.      Standards-setting methodologies

    10.  Evaluating standard-setting

    11.  Training

    12.  The special case of CEFT

    13.  You can always count on uncertainty

    Chapter 8a - Activities

    Chapter 9 – Validity

    1.      Preliminaries

    2.      The Messick Consensus

    3.      Argument based validation

    4.      Technicalism

    5.      The New Realism

    6.      Constructivism

    7.      Pragmatic realism

    8.      Conclusion

    Chapter 9a - Activities







    Glenn Fulcher is Emeritus Professor of Education and Language Assessment in the School of Education at the University of Leicester, UK. He is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Language Testing and author of Re-examining Language Testing: A philosophical and social inquiry. These two books jointly won the SAGE/ILTA Book Award in 2016. He other books include Language Testing and Assessment: An Advanced Resource Book, and Testing Second Language Speaking. He has published over 100 research papers. In 2021 he received the Messick Memorial Award from Educational Testing Service, and in 2022 was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is also a UK National Teaching Fellow.