Jonathan Dixon

Jonathan Dixon

Hi! I currently work as an Assessment Solutions Consultant in Beijing for the British Council. I've been involved in the ESL industry for 18 yrs, working as a teacher, trainer, manager, and assessor.

Location United Kingdom


  • Great explanation!

  • Do you also ask students to take part in peer assessment too? (assessing each other after the group task)

  • The biggest challenge for the teacher! How can we make tests a positive learning experience, especially to our younger students?

  • Are you able to select speaking test questions that are more suitable for a younger age? Or would this make the test unfair for the wider population?

  • Which learner differences are the most important to consider when creating a test? Age is very important... any others?

  • Interesting comment you made concerning the teenage Cambridge C1 advance group; we often see something with IELTS; a test aimed at over 18s, however there are students as young as 11 who sometimes take the test! I wonder, who should be responsible in controlling what age test takers should be when taking certain tests?

  • Are there any written exercises your students could do that are not too difficult for them?

  • Were you able to pilot the test with real students?

  • Do you find the tests that you create produce accurate and reliable information about your students? In other words, do the scores represent the students' real language ability?

  • "Who knows better the students than the teacher?" the students themselves?! ;)

  • In your current workplace, does your academy director of studies also follow a test development cycle? It sounds like you would be able to assist with this! :)

  • I love the collaborative nature of your process! How do you measure the success of your test?

  • Excellent! I'm curious: what types of test items do you find the most difficult to create? :)

  • When you created tests at university, how successful do you think they were? What do you base this success on? :)

  • Before giving the test to students, do you pilot it with others? :)

  • When producing formative tests for students, do you give them a test score, detailed comments, or a mixture of both? :)

  • Do you find it more difficult to produce multiple choice questions or subjective questions? Which types of questions provide you with the most useful information about your students? :)

  • When producing the tests, did you follow aspects of the test development cycle mentioned in this chapter? Was there anything you were unable to follow? Why?

  • @ManuelCorrea Totally agree! :)

  • Good point: 'Teaching to the test' is very important to help build test familiarization with students.

  • @EmmaC Absolutely: Teachers feel the pressure to make students get high grades, which means their teaching is directed to passing the test, preventing students understanding the subject within a broader context.

  • The idea of teaching to the construct ABSOLUTELY applies as strongly for reading and listening! For example, it's much better to teach students how to read for details, understand main ideas, or distinguish fact from opinion than simply teaching them how to answer multiple choice questions :)

  • How effective do you think MCQs are in assessing someone's language ability?

  • Does that mean the tests you use also include tasks that are real-life and need students to cooperate? :)

  • Are there any situations when 'teaching to the test' may be appropriate? :)

  • Thanks for sharing :) Luckily, the CEFR does not contain too many descriptors that focus on grammatical accuracy...

  • What a range you teach! Which level do you prefer to teach? :)

  • I'm curious, Leopoldo, how do you deal with students who are not performing at the level they are placed in? :)

  • If you're interested, I'd also suggest looking at some of the other versions of Aptis (like Aptis for Teens and Aptis Advanced); you'll get to see how the test has been adapted for different types of test takers :)

  • Some great ideas! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Thanks for sharing :)

  • @VIVIANABAQUERO May I ask, what CEFR level are your students? And what level do you think you'll need to get students giving more than just personal information? (I agree, students are perhaps more motivated to talk about familiar topics... so how can we keep them motivated when talking about unfamiliar ones?) :)

  • How nervous do you think students feel if they are having an interactive conversation, in pairs, but it is being observed and assessed by an examiner?

  • How successful have your remote assessments been? :)

  • I'm curious: what kind of tasks do you use when assessing your students remotely? :)

  • Good points! And a constant challenge for teachers is how to offer our students an opportunity to convert tests into ‘positive learning experiences’...

  • @ThassianadeBalbinoSilva Good point; summative assessment is still an efficient way to report on what has been achieved to different stakeholders, including student, parents, and school decision-makers.

  • @NataliaEspinosa Even more sad when research shows that effective formative assessment is one of the most important contributors to success in summative assessment! :)

  • @EmmaC Great suggestion!

  • It'll be interesting to see if these positive changes will continue once things return to normal...

  • Great to hear! I wonder if there's any way we can reduce the anxiety caused by tests?

  • How are your students when doing a live test through a computer? Is their performance similar to that of a live test, face to face in a classroom? :)