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Item Writing for Language Assessment

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Item writing is an integral part of any test development effort, be it for large-scale high-stakes assessment or for summative assessment in the classroom. Regretfully, limited attention has been afforded to item writing in the language testing research literature. This omission is somewhat surprising, given that the quality of test items impacts directly on test validity. This book aims to fill this gap.

It starts with defining item writing, explaining its importance for overall test validity and its position within the test development cycle. The book then proceeds with a comprehensive overview of an item writing operation including item writing documentation, procedures, logistics, as well as item writer recruitment and training. It provides advice on how to make an item writing operation well-organised and sustainable. Part II of the book will deal with quality assurance for item writing, providing advice both on how high item quality can be achieved during the item writing process, and on how item quality can be ascertained in the later stages of test development during item trialling, standard setting and item banking. Finally, Part III of the book introduces tools currently available to support item writing, including corpus methods and artificial intelligence. The book ends with the authors' perspective on the future of item writing for language testing.

The book is informed with the most up-to-date literature/research into test development and item writing, coming from the fields of language testing and educational measurement more generally. It also draws on the authors’ extensive practical experience as items writers and test developers. Item-writing recommendations are exemplified with specific case studies drawing upon Olena’s experience with the Aptis test suite, as well as on Benjamin’s and Doris’s experience developing the Austrian Matura exam, among others. This approach ensures that a variety of testing contexts (large scale commercial and national/regional language testing, smaller-scale institutional language testing, classroom language testing) are covered in the book.

Published: Jan 1, 2028