The starting point for writing items is a careful reading of the text, having the specified operations in mind. One should be asking oneself what a competent reader should derive from the text. Where relevant, a note should be taken of main points, interesting pieces of information, stages of argument, examples, and so on. The next step is to decide what tasks it is reasonable to expect candidates to be able to perform in rela- tion to these. It is only then that draft items should be written. Paragraph numbers and line numbers should be added to the text if items need to make reference to these. The text and items should be presented to colleagues for moderation. Items and even the text may need modification. A moderation checklist follows:
Practical advice on item writing
1. In a scanning test, present items in the order in which the answers can be found in the text. Not to do this introduces too much random variation and so lowers the test’s reliability.
2. Do not write items for which the correct response can be found without understanding the text (unless that is an ability that you are testing!). Such items usually involve simply matching a string of words in the question with the same string in the text. Thus:
What body said that concern over passive smoking had arisen in part through better insulation and draught proofing?