3 Testing Methods for Reading by Hughes (2000)

Shared by: Johnny Tiang Kah Hoe (A126075)

Reading is one of the language components which is always tested in both English achievement and proficiency test. In this passage, I would like to share three reading testing methods suggested by Hughes (2000). The three are multiple-choice test, unique answer and short –answer test. Example will be given in explanation of each type of testing method.

First of all, multiple-choice test items is a common device for text comprehension. In any multiple-choice item, the question is followed by three to five options. The answer to the question is called key while the other options are called distractors. It is vey time-consuming in preparing a good and reliable multiple choice test. However, it is easy to evaluate a multiple choice test as it is a machine markable technique. Multiple-choice test is a test with high reliability as markers’ judgment is not involved in the marking process.


In the unique answer reading test suggested by Hughes (2000), there is only one possible correct response. It might be a single word or number, or something slightly longer. For example, “China” ; “The boy with a hat” and “School teachers”. Unique answer testing method is knowledge based. It is easy for a teacher to mark the unique answer test as the answers for the questions are limited. But, its use is necessarily limited as it is not an integrative skill involving actual reading.

Third method to test students’ reading discussed here is the short-anwer tests. Short-anwer tests are extremely useful for testing reading comprehension (Weir 1993). In a SAQ technique, the students are asked to give an answer to a question. This might be a single word or number or slightly longer phrase. The answers may vary and will be scored for the accuracy of content instead of the writing ability.






Hughes, A. 2000. Testing for language teachers.  United Kingdom: Cambridge University.

Weir, C. J. 1993. Understanding & Developing Language Tests. New York: Prentice Hall.



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