What is a Test Bank?

Test banks are, simply put, a testing resource for teachers. Ready made tests can be purchased or traded and then downloaded and customized to fit the class requirements. Tests are often online so that students can take them as they learn the materials to assess their own learning. Or teachers can use them at the end of a unit for summative assessments. In many cases, the grading can be done by software.

Questions can be any of the following types:
  • Multiple choice
  • Multiple response
  • True/false
  • Fill in the blank
  • Matching
  • Essay/short answer

Test bank assessments can be created by textbook publishing companies, or individual teachers.

What might a Test Bank question look like?


What are the advantages of Test Banks for teachers?

  • They can be provided via a school's network for teacher access
  • Lecturers save time creating assessments, as the Test banks are all ready-made, with questions and answers (most with feedback) already written by Test Bank authors
  • Lecturers can customize every part of each assessment to meet their teaching requirementstest_bank.jpg
  • Feedback can be turned off to enable summative assessment
  • Lecturers save time marking each assessment
  • Lecturers can integrate the assessments with their own assessment tools e.g. student tracking and grade books to monitor grades
  • Test banks are available in a number of software formats to cater for a wide range of users, and are password-protected to allow only teacher access.
  • Can be used to assess student learning as you proceed through the unit with minimal time and effort

What are the advantages of Test Banks for students?

  • Feedback can contain page references to relevant information in the textbook so students can learn as they do (formative) assessments
  • Students can track their own understanding of a unit or chapter
  • They're easy to acquire

What are some disadvantages of Test Banks?

  • The usefulness and quality of publisher-provided test banks vary widely from predominantly recall questions to more useful inference questions. Teachers should be aware of the sort of questions they are asking their students and not assume that "one size fits all" students.
  • Many Test Bank questions have not been tested on students and are poorly written or a poor assessment of student understanding and knowledge. One study of almost 3,000 questions from 17 nursing test banks found an alarming reliance on knowledge questions and serious problems with validity.
  • Students have found ways to get ahold of Test Bank questions and answers. This creates a fuzzy line between what is cheating and what is considered test preparation materials:

In the Fall of 2010, one such controversy made big news at the University of Central Florida.
Watch as the UCF professor confronts his class about the cheating ring.

Or was it cheating at all? Watch as some students respond to the accusation. Turns out that early in the semester, the professor very explicitly claimed to write the exams himself. Students consulting the test bank for formative assessment of their understanding might have done so quite innocently.

One blogger commenting on the situation offers detailed analyses of both perspectives. Initially impressed with the professor's restraint in the face of cheating, Robert Talbert, a professor at a different university, comes around to wondering if the students don't have a point in spite of the rather ill-conceived and immature formatting and tone of their argument. "What a sad situation," he laments. "Why don’t they just make up their own tests at UCF?" Though it stands to reason that this is a rhetorical question, there are several often cited reasons teachers turn to test banks for exam materials. Chief among them are time saving and concerns about student complaints regarding test validity. Jason B. Jones, a blogger for ProfHacker at The Chronicle of Higher Education proposes "crowdsourcing," student-written exams, instead of outsourcing as a solution to both issues, much like the exam about Equality, Integrity and Standards that this EDUC 6040 class writes collectively.

Where do I find a Test Bank?

  • Textbook publishing companies often provide Test Banks like this one from Oxford University Press. Access is usually granted with the purchase of the textbooks and teacher's manuals.
  • Individual teachers and testing companies have also created Test Banks for sale or free download. These vary in reliability and content matter. Many focus around general standards rather than specific topics.
  • Companies like Respondus partner with text book publishers and course management system companies to develop software products that make the most of assessment materials in an eLearning environment. Respondus products integrate with Desire2Learn, Blackboard, ANGEL, eCollege, and Moodle. The company has formatted test banks from over 2,500 text books to function with their products, which help teachers create online assessments, help students create custom self-assessments and learning activities, and deter cheating during online tests.


Information and examples from publishers:

Examples of test banks compiled by departments, schools:

Other sources (the list could go on and on and on):