Test Banks

Test Banks defined

A test bank consists of a compilation of questions on a subject to be assessed. This may take the form of a stack of old papers in a folder of examinations from one's own past tests or from other teachers' tests. It may be a digital bank, a computer file that contains an array of questions to use. Modern textbooks often include such a resource, providing a cd of practice material for students or test questions for teachers. Whatever their form, they are essentially a long list of questions.

Software can be purchased that will provide instructors with the opportunity to custom create an assessment tool from a Test Bank of questions provided. For an example of such software there is a PDF file from CPS, or for an example of how a test bank can be applied to a professional setting visit www.lessstress.com, which provides an explaination of a Test Bank that simulates a professional level CPR exam.

Question Types

Test banks are by nature a resource for creating the type of standard written tests with which students are likely familiar. These often focus on retention of specific facts and definitions, and come in a number of common forms. There are various forms that can be applied in combination or solely in one selected format.
  • Multiple choiceexternal image multiple-choice.gif

    • Multiple choice tests frequently ask a question to which there is a specific answer provided among a number of possible answers provded for a student to choose from. Students are encouraged to select the one they feel is most accurate and in some cases the request is made for students to select all that they feel may apply. Four is the most common, though there is some variety; typically student will have three to five choices. One of the provided answers is regarded as the correct choice for such questions, and assessment is based on the student choosing this correct answer. The students' number of responses matching the correct answer is divided by the total number of questions to yield a percentage.

    • Cautions when using multiple choice
      • It is necessary to ensure that each question has exactly one correct answer
      • Choices provided which are not the desired answer should not be instantly recognizable as incorrect

  • True/false

    • This type of question provides a statement, and the student reponds by indicating whether the statement is true or false.
  • Matching

    • Two lists are provided to students, generally in two columns. The goal of the student is to pair a word or concept from one column with another word or concept in the other column. Instructions provided will inform students on what basis they are to match members of the two lists. This commonly takes the form of a column of terms and a column of definitions, though the specifiic uses are limitless in their scope. Samples might be to match a state to its capital, a Roman god to the corresponding Greek god, an element to its chemical symbol, and any other such system of pairing an instructor might devise.
    • When using matching

      • Avoid choices which are equally applicable to more than one member of the other list.
  • Fill in the blank

These questions provide students with a statement regarding material which they have studied, with important concepts of key terms omitted from the sentence. Students use the information in the statement and their knowledge of the subject of the statement to determine the correct

Pros and Cons of Test Banks


Test banks bring to teachers speed and efficiency of assignment creation, as well as customizability. When teachers wish to put together an examination, they can draw from questions which are already completed, rather than having to take the time to devise and write questions themselves. They can choose from among their options which questions are best suited towards evaluating student understanding of the lessons to be tested. They can also provide some amount of variety, as teachers may have in their banks different approaches to testing the same information: asking a question in a way that students have not previously encountered can serve as a good way of testing comprehension rather than recognition.


The correct pronunciation for the topic description above is with a long drawn out yell, with the speaker using their best impression of William Shatner. The drawback to test banks is that they limit the instructor to thetypes of written test which are coming under greater scrutiny in the current educational society.

Test Banks and Technology

Test Banks benefit tremendously from current technology. The ability to store incredible amounts of data electronically eliminates the difficulty that can accompany keeping physical printed copies. Modern technology is not just useful for storing the information. The use of web browsers can make the information accessible to a large number of people anywhere in the world. Internet use allows teachers to easily exchange information with others in their field, thereby expanding their test banks. While the internet is a powerful tool in increasing accessibility, it is sitll possible to maintin confidentiality and to prevent the information from being accessed by students. Security measures on websites can limit who is able to view files or documents and who is not. When test banks are provided to students as a means of practicing and judging their own ability, technology can aid the endeavor. The possibility of organizing the questions allows students to investigate a narrower part of the whole, focusing on a single concept of group of related concepts. Programs can provide students with randomized questions, to ensure that their memory of the facts is not based on their order. There are also programs which can help students who need assistance. Provision of additional information or hints can get students thinking more about the concepts rather than just seeing their answer. It is also possible to provide information on way the specified answer is correct, as well as why other choices are incorrect. Sorting of questions by level of difficulty is also a possible use, limiting the questions to those of the ability of the user.

Test Banks After Assessment Reform

Though some current testing methods are currently being revised, test banks still have their place in future examination and assessment.

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