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There are a variety of types of grammar tests, such as fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, sentence diagramming, composition-based and authentic assessment. In general, grammar tests try to assess students’ use of language in its totality as well as various parts and rules of language. Grammar tests might focus on skills such as sentence structure, using and identifying parts of speech, punctuation, spelling and capitalization. They might also focus on complex and compound sentences and sentence corrections as well as writing correct sentences and paragraphs.
One of the types of grammar tests is fill-in-the-blank tests in which students are asked to provide the appropriate word. For example, they might be asked which form of a word — such as "their," "there" or "they’re" — a certain sentence requires and then be asked to fill in the blank. For this type of test, students might or might not be provided with a list of words from which to choose.
Another type of grammar test that is commonly used is the multiple-choice format. For this format, students are asked a question and then given several choices from which to pick, with one of them being the correct choice. Students might be asked to identify which part of speech a certain word is and might be given choices. They might also be asked what measures to take to correct a sentence, and they might be given several choices.
Sentence diagramming is another activity that students might be asked to do on grammar tests. To do this, they must make a graphic representation for the parts of speech in a sentence. Students draw lines and write the words from the sentence in a predetermined format to show how each word functions as a certain part of speech.
Composition-based grammar tests are another way to check for students’ learning and mastery of grammar concepts. For these types of tests, students might be asked to write sentences, paragraphs or even a short essay in which they incorporate various rules and types of grammar elements correctly. On this kind of test, for example, students might be asked to take two sentences and combine them correctly. They also might be asked to take a paragraph that is written incorrectly and write it in a grammatically correct fashion.
Authentic assessment is another way to check for students' understanding of grammatical rules. For example, they might be asked to take a newspaper article and make corrections or improvements. The difference between this and other types of grammar tests is that it tests using grammar and language in their natural format and authentic contexts. Although this still is an academic activity, it is more related to real-life use of grammar rules than other types of grammar tests are.
We had a class project in my college grammar class where we had to bring in examples of bad grammar or weird headlines in newspapers and magazines, or funny uses of grammar on billboards or signs.
One of my favorites was, "Nervous Charlie's Fireworks and Beer" which was a billboard I saw on the Interstate. I loved that. So I guess that would be classified as an authentic assessment type of test.
I've taken all kinds of grammar tests, including the composition kind and diagramming kind. If you know what you're doing, they're not that difficult, but if you don't, you can get mixed up very quickly.
When I took basic grammar in college, we had two parts on our tests: re-write sentences using correct grammar, and diagramming. And my professor's diagramming tests were absolutely awful. We had to do diagramming in every single class, so we were used to it, but it still could get a little hairy when we had a time limit to do the test. We had to bring rulers to class so we could make sure all of our lines were straight. We had to do that anyway, but like I said, on a test, it can get a little nerve-racking.
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