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General Infomation on Homeschooling
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The Highschool Years
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History of Homeschooling in Australia
Types of Tests
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Slow Learners

Types of Tests



We are often asked questions about tests and the differences between various tests. A variety of tests are available within the general community. Each has a specific purpose and each provides a different means of assessment. Below is an attempt to look at and explain the different type of tests and their use.


General Aptitude Tests

They include employment tests undertaken by specialist firms, scholarship entrance tests and the SAT test. These forms of testing are very popular with employers as they enable them to screen the vast numbers of applications for particular jobs, e.g., apprenticeships. Universities have also accepted them for a similar reason but are becoming more wary of them since they often find that the test does not really reflect the student's knowledge.


When tests are undertaken for employment applicants are informed that there are no right or wrong answers. What is being screened is the likely ability of the applicant to succeed in the course or job. They do not screen knowledge although some questions may appear to. High scores simply mean that the person is suited to a specific area. These tests do not guarantee that the applicant has the necessary pre-requisites. The test simply allows entry to a course or job.


The children should work through various general aptitude tests over a period of years such as the Learn to Think 1 & 2, I Q Examples 1 & 2, or General Aptitude Tests for Selective & Independent Scholarship Exams. Practise means that this type of test becomes familiar. They also provide parents with a guide to the way their child thinks which can be helpful in choosing curriculum. While practise gives a child an advantage they should not be studied for or else the test becomes meaningless.


Achievement Tests

These include the Californian Achievement Tests, HSC, VCE etc. These tests should be written to a specific standard and should provide a measurement of this standard. They generally test a year's work. Unfortunately, over the last twenty years, the standard of schooling has dropped and so many of these tests are now adjusted against a mean or average mark. When this happens the test is no longer a true indication of ability but instead indicates how well the child scored compared to others who sat the test. The marks therefore have no real meaning. Some of these types of tests refer to the �mean average score� or �tertiary entrance rank�, (the position the student is parked in the queue for university entrance.)


Employers are aware of this problem. On 11th June 1999, the Age newspaper reported that employers in Victoria had called for a review of the VCE, the scrapping of the tertiary entrance rank, a set minimum entry standards for the VCE and double, external VCE exams. The Victorian Chamber of Commerce proposed minimum literacy and numeracy standards be attained before students were promoted to year 11. They also expressed concern at the burgeoning vocational studies in schools which they considered to be second-rate because they were under-resourced compared with TAFE Colleges. In other words, as we have stated before, employers prefer TAFE courses because they are familiar with the standard.


We use either Language & Maths or the Test Your Child series as Achievement tests. Having the child score 80% or more before proceeding to the next grade provides the parent with a reliable measure of the child�s ability. The parent can correct any small areas that may have been overlooked and the child is not placed in a position where they are likely to fail. Similarly we test in english and maths in grade ten.


Individual Tests

Some material contains tests which assess whether or not the student mastered the skills contained in the book. These can be useful tools in aiding the parent to assess whether the student correctly studied the material. They are however limited. They do not provide an independent, general test of the years work and so will not show parents if skills, other than those contained in the material, have been missed. Generally these tests are based on each individual book.


Not all books contain tests and other means of assessment can be used. We use several methods. In secondary school, when usinghistory books we ask our children to take notes as then read through the chapter. Once the chapter has been completed and the child has had time to revise and learn the material we set an essay type question or a series of questions requiring answers, about a paragraph in length. The notes, which the child has previously taken, make the essay easy to set and mark. Children also acquire experience that they will need should they continue on to higher education.


We use a different method when assessing literature. We ask the child to write a summary of each chapter once they have finished reading it. At the end of the book we may also agree on a topic for an essay. Since the child has written what amounts to an over-view of the book the parent need only read these to mark the essay. Again, valuable life skills are learnt.



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