Test-taking strategies and item specifications: Focusing on a high-stake test

Author/s:

Kashkouli, Zohreh*
Department of English, University of Isfahan, Iran (Kashkouli_z@yahoo.com)

Barati, Hossein
Department of English, University of Isfahan, Iran (h.barati@gmail.com)

Nejad Ansari, Dariush
Department of English, University of Isfahan, Iran (nejadansari@gmail.com)

Abstract:

The present study was conducted to investigate the test-taking strategies that respondents used when completing two different item specifications (Factual Information and Inference questions) of a high-stake reading comprehension test. 130 randomly chosen undergraduate EFL learners preparing themselves for graduate studies were divided into three groups based on the results of a proficiency test. Based on their scores from the proficiency test, each ability group had 40 participants. All groups completed two reading passages of Iranian National University Entrance Exam for MA (INUEMA) and two Test-taking Strategy questionnaires which contained four types of strategies. A series of Kruskal-Wallis tests was conducted to investigate whether the three ability group’s measures of performance on four types of test-taking strategies revealed significant difference after completing Inference and Factual Information questions. In cases the difference among ability groups was significant; Mann-Whitney U test was conducted as a follow-up significance test in order to indicate where the significant difference occurred. The results revealed that the high-ability and the intermediate groups, compared with the low-ability group, employed more evaluation strategies when completing Inference items of INUEMA. Moreover, low-ability test takers used test-wiseness strategies for Inference items more than the high-ability and the intermediate groups. With respect to the Factual Information items, the intermediate group used more monitoring strategies than the high-ability test takers. Focusing on the validity of the above high-stake test, the findings of the present study are likely to be of great interest to EFL material designers, instructors and high-stake test developers.

Keywords: test-taking strategies; reading comprehension; item specification; factual information; inference

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrse.2015.1012

*Corresponding Author