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Test Development – How it Works

The responsibilities of the test development team are clearly defined. Every team member focuses on a specific field of work, defined either by language (e.g. Russian) or by purpose (e.g. school exams).

All test developers have two major responsibilities: developing new test formats and competently supervising the construction of new test versions.

How Is a New Test Developed?

Developing a new test format takes some time. Here you’ll find a brief overview of the individual steps during development.


Examinations need to suit the requirements of the future exam candidates. This is why telc test developers carry out both a needs and a target group analysis before beginning. Only then will they create a first draft of a suitable testing format – establishing the likely thematic areas, subtests, text types, distribution of score points and so on.

Construction of a mock examination 

After the initial planning has been completed, the developer creates a mock examination draft. Several telc test developers, native speaking item writers and other experts with both theoretical and practical experience carefully review the results.

Pre-testing ascertains the functionality of the test formats – making sure that the new test is equally usable by candidates, teachers and examiners.  The test developers also create instructions for the test’s implementation, answer sheets, examiners’ sheets for oral tests and, of course, the valued telc certificates.

Developing the test versions

When the concept is finalised, the test developer creates the first versions of the test.

How Is A New Test Version Created?

When a new version of a test is prepared for an already existing examination format, the test developer’s activity is mainly that of coordinator and advisor.


All test developers work with teams of native speaking authors, who write the subtests for the exam. Every author has long experience in foreign language didactics. Training sessions for these authors are also organised by the test developers.


As soon as the authors have finished their work, the draft is evaluated. Does the draft adhere to the test specifications? Are there discrepancies in the examination’s format? Are all subtests appropriate for the established level? Are the chosen themes relevant to the target group?

When necessary, the draft is re-worked and then sent to several appraisers, who again carefully check each individual subtest.


The findings of the appraisers are collected and the test developer creates a preliminary version. This version is reviewed in the editors’ conference, where it is again debated and further developed.

Trial stage

When the experts have given the test version their go-ahead, the new test is sent to language courses for a trial run. Now it can be determined if the new test really meets telc’s high examination requirements.

Statistical evaluation

A validation officer takes on the task of evaluating the trial run results, using classical and probabilistic methods of item analysis. The computed results inform the test developer which items have presented difficulties. These are altered or exchanged, and, if necessary, sent into the trial stage once again.

The final version

The final version of the examination is ready when the developer has approved the last test version, the answer key is complete and the listening activities from the listening comprehension subtest have gone through their final takes in the recording studio. Now the test is ready to be used.