Test writing

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PirateShip
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Test writing

Postby PirateShip » March 26th, 2019, 6:40 pm

For all of you test writers out there, how long do you spend writing a test for an event?

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Re: Test writing

Postby Unome » March 27th, 2019, 5:09 am

5-10 hours for a quick one, 20-25 for a longer one. A test written very quickly with minimal effort is often above average in quality, so I find it more beneficial to write a larger number of tests with less effort put into any individual test.
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Re: Test writing

Postby windu34 » March 27th, 2019, 6:06 am

I try not to write too many tests each year so that I can spend more time on each one. Probably between 15-35 hours depending on how much I already know about the event and how application-focused I want it to be. Regionals tests usually are right around that 15 hour mark, but invitational tests that I put more effort into can take much longer.
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Re: Test writing

Postby Killboe » March 27th, 2019, 6:10 am

windu34 wrote:I try not to write too many tests each year so that I can spend more time on each one. Probably between 15-35 hours depending on how much I already know about the event and how application-focused I want it to be. Regionals tests usually are right around that 15 hour mark, but invitational tests that I put more effort into can take much longer.


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Re: Test writing

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » March 27th, 2019, 9:09 am

I tend to put quite a bit of effort into writing tests, which is why I end up not writing a ton of them. I think my current pace of test writing is about 1 a year. Hence why I tend to lean towards the event volunteering side rather than event supervision nowadays. ;)
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Re: Test writing

Postby primitive_polonium » March 27th, 2019, 11:28 am

2 all-nighters and then revisions, so 25 hours for an event I'm familiar in.

For an event I'm not familiar in, probably double that time.
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Re: Test writing

Postby syo_astro » March 28th, 2019, 1:10 pm

Depends on the level of test. In general, I write my invites / SSSS / easy regs tests much faster, maybe only a day or two (like a few hours each) unless I'm testing out new question styles (which I am still doing a lot...especially for invites). But I don't usually write single tests other than SSSS...

I generally write tests by writing an outline (regardless of the event or level) which takes maybe 3 or 4 hours (especially for a solid regs, state exam, etc). If I'm outlining for multiple tests at once, it might take longer, maybe 6 or 7 let's say. After that, I redistribute the ideas for questions into tests so my tests are mostly pretty even at covering a variety of topics...usually I get in a mood, though, and end up having a slight focus for a given test. Anyway, that part obviously doesn't take me long, maybe 30 minutes to an hour.

Then we get the hard part which is literally just all the darn time formatting and editing. I can't even recall how much time I spend editing. Usually I start out with all the bulk formatting of images sheets and turning those question ideas into actual properly written questions for like...I don't know, maybe 4 hours per test? After that, I still have to go back over everything multiple times since usually I make typos, have things badly aligned, etc. Sometimes the tests are even too long or the image order is wrong, which means I have to go back and adjust various things T.T (before people say just use LaTeX...unfortunately point values are complicated, and usually it's more like I change something on the image sheet which changes something on the test etc etc). That part is the most frustrating maybe taking me a few hours per week over multiple weeks.

Altogether that might mean about 20 to 30 hours in a given year that I spend for maybe 3 or 4 tests...but that's being fairly conservative, I'm sure I'm pretty inconsistent, take breaks, etc that cuts into that. On the other hand, I'm also cutting down how many tests I help with throughout the year because I'm getting busier, so that might be a fair estimate for the past year.

In related news, I also have to write questions for classes I teach. I think I put together sets of about 7 to 10 problems (about 3 parts each...usually 1 is 1 part and 1 is like 7 quick parts) in 5ish hrs. Admittedly, those are a lot less "creative" than my scioly tests, I'm hoping those who take them would agree;).
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Re: Test writing

Postby pikachu4919 » March 28th, 2019, 5:37 pm

For me, it depends on the event. Forensics tests are a handful to write since you are basically obligated to write a story and characters in addition to a test and key, and the test and key need to be integrated with the story and characters. Those for me typically take 1-3 weeks to write and I end up still working on them up until the tournament week itself. Other events’ tests don’t take as long, but probably 3-5 days for me to write a good one. Personally I have lots of fun writing tests so I don’t mind writing as many as I can!
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Re: Test writing

Postby drcubbin » April 10th, 2019, 5:05 am

I agree with everyone who contributed here. I don't think teachers, coaches or even some judges fully grasp the time and energy it takes to "outline multiple tests" for a single event (especially when writing 5 or 6 per season for Invys, Regionals and States), or the mind-numbing process of formatting that many tests, and finally self-proofing followed by peer-proofing. Some dedicated ESs have written literally dozens upon dozens over their time in SciOly volunteering to write the best test they can. And yet there are some who complain "why are your tests so similar"? Well, the formatting may be similar and depending upon if you know who will be attending the Invy, then there may even be a repeat of questions that are part of the "mandatory" information required to be know by those taking the tests, but using the same format is practically a necessary evil. I love writing the tests, but if there are others out there who feel better qualified to produce better quality tests, I say, "go for it!"
As a possible solution, I offer this - If those who write the rules would expand the topics to make the materials more challenging. Maybe "balancing simple equations" could be come just, "balancing equations", or in the chemistry events, why not specify we can include that stoichiometry (nothing more than learning conversion units) or molarity (concentration of a solution)be permitted or make the periodic table a better part of the rules? If there was more to work with, test writers would be better able to modify and alter questions from one test to the other and it would be more challenging. Unfortunately, I do see a trend to making the test writing "parameters" simpler, and so it makes tests more simpler and more similar. Test writers are the glue of the events. Give them more to work with and you would have better - and more diverse - tests.

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Re: Test writing

Postby syo_astro » April 11th, 2019, 9:43 pm

drcubbin wrote:As a possible solution, I offer this - If those who write the rules would expand the topics to make the materials more challenging. Maybe "balancing simple equations" could be come just, "balancing equations", or in the chemistry events, why not specify we can include that stoichiometry (nothing more than learning conversion units) or molarity (concentration of a solution)be permitted or make the periodic table a better part of the rules? If there was more to work with, test writers would be better able to modify and alter questions from one test to the other and it would be more challenging. Unfortunately, I do see a trend to making the test writing "parameters" simpler, and so it makes tests more simpler and more similar. Test writers are the glue of the events. Give them more to work with and you would have better - and more diverse - tests.

Huh, are rules writers trying to make test writing focus on only simpler topics? I haven't been writing / checking enough events recently...but that would be unfortunate vs. the usual "simple but open" philosophy that I knew rules writers to have (like simple rules but very wide reach of topics they cover). Like, I thought everyone just knew that good rules enable both easy and hard tests >.>. The only issue is adding rules with "buts" can be bad...so idk, depends on the event.
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Re: Test writing

Postby drcubbin » April 12th, 2019, 1:36 am

syo_astro wrote:
drcubbin wrote:As a possible solution, I offer this - If those who write the rules would expand the topics to make the materials more challenging. Maybe "balancing simple equations" could be come just, "balancing equations", or in the chemistry events, why not specify we can include that stoichiometry (nothing more than learning conversion units) or molarity (concentration of a solution)be permitted or make the periodic table a better part of the rules? If there was more to work with, test writers would be better able to modify and alter questions from one test to the other and it would be more challenging. Unfortunately, I do see a trend to making the test writing "parameters" simpler, and so it makes tests more simpler and more similar. Test writers are the glue of the events. Give them more to work with and you would have better - and more diverse - tests.

Huh, are rules writers trying to make test writing focus on only simpler topics? I haven't been writing / checking enough events recently...but that would be unfortunate vs. the usual "simple but open" philosophy that I knew rules writers to have (like simple rules but very wide reach of topics they cover). Like, I thought everyone just knew that good rules enable both easy and hard tests >.>. The only issue is adding rules with "buts" can be bad...so idk, depends on the event.

You would think so, Syo. And again the problem comes when information is not specifically included in the rules manual, but appears in examinations at all levels of competition. I would even be happy with adding the infamous "includes, but not limited to...:" line as to permit more latitude. For instance, Potions and Poisons, the rules state, "This part will be a multiple-choice and short answer test covering the following topics:" If it would be worded as (off the top of my head), "Though this is a general science examination, this written part will be a multiple-choice and short answer test covering - but not limited to - the following topics..." or just expand the level of topics. Test writers want to write challenging - and different tests - but when you are "mandated" to cover a list of topics, instead of having the option to focus more on one and leave others out, it would make the process much easier, and I believe challenging.

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Re: Test writing

Postby John Richardsim » April 15th, 2019, 7:48 pm

Well, it depends. When I write one alone it usually takes me around 12-16 hours. When I have a co-event supervisor, it takes me only 12-16 hours.
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Re: Test writing

Postby Things2do » April 16th, 2019, 8:16 pm

John Richardsim wrote:Well, it depends. When I write one alone it usually takes me around 12-16 hours. When I have a co-event supervisor, it takes me only 12-16 hours.

Sounds about right...
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