The selection criteria of texts for reading testing: From the perspective of effectively assessing high-level reading abilities

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Background: In current research on reading testing, substantial attention has been paid to assessing students' high-level reading abilities, including synthesis, inference, evaluation and creativity. Whether students can show their high-level reading abilities is directly related to the text selection for reading testing, which also influences authentic reading in students' daily life. But it is unlikely to tap high-level reading abilities by using plain texts written in a simple and straightforward way. Focus of discussion: In order to assess high-level reading ability effectively, this study examines the criteria of text selection for reading testing. Arguments: Discussion is elaborated from three aspects: (1) Language expression. Texts should include words that are newly learned or can be guessed according to the context. Also, there should be sentences of different structures, written cohesively with appropriate rhetorical devices and diverse expression ways. (2) Structure. It is suggested to construct texts with different logical relations, such as description, combination, causation and comparison. Discourse markers and sentences denoting text structures should be included as well. (3) Content. Text information should be large enough and embedded with new information, humanistic features or implications. At the meantime, it must be guaranteed that texts are comprehensible to students with adequate knowledge and cognitive ability so that it is fair for all students to be tested. Conclusion: Texts possessing the characteristics stated above are considered to be apposite for assessing students' high-level abilities such as synthesis, inference, evaluation and creativity. The criteria of text selection provide guidance for teachers to accumulate reading materials that can be applied in designing assessments of high-level reading abilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Horizons in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • Chinese language
  • High-level ability
  • Reading assessment
  • Text selection criteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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