Thursday 1 July 2021

Writing is often challenging for learners for a variety of reasons. These include a lack of vocabulary or grammar, a lack of knowledge of the genre and a lack of background knowledge to respond effectively to the task. However, the way a writing task is presented can also have an impact on the difficulty of a task and can elicit very different types of language, which can be problematic when trying to maintain standards across different assessments. 

In this workshop, participants will consider the ways in which writing tasks can affect task difficulty and will discuss the implications of this with regard to test fairness across groups of test-takers. We will consider the importance of using test specifications to maintain consistency of assessment across groups. Workshop participants will then work together in designing two tasks of approximately equivalent difficulty.


Carolyn Westbrook

Workshop Presenter - Test Development Researcher (Productive skills) at Assessment Research Group , British Council, UK

Formerly an Associate Professor in EFL, she has over 25 years’ experience teaching and assessing EAP and ESP. A Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, she has been a teacher, tester, teacher trainer and materials writer. Carolyn has been interested in Language Assessment since 2007, taking part in in a number of testing and assessment projects, including a major project teaching Russian university lecturers about language assessment.

Richard Spiby

Workshop Presenter - Test Development Researcher (Receptive skills) at Assessment Research Group, British Council, UK

Test Development with the British Council Assessment Research Group since 2016. His main responsibilities include overseeing operational analysis and developing reading and listening components of new tests. He also works on a variety of assessment development and training projects worldwide. Richard has previously worked in the UK and Turkey, mainly in the university sector, in test production, management and research.