Examination may be classified on the basis of of questions i.e. essay type, objective type and oral type type etc. The essay question requires the student to provide a written discussion in response to the question. The traditional final examination normally contained essay type test.

Essay tests have a long history that dates back to more than four thousand years. W.E. Coffman in article entitled “Essay Examination published in a book Educational Measurement (1971), edited bay R.L. | Thorndike observes that essay tests were in use earlier than 2300 B.C. Until the turn of the 21st century, they were almost the only form of written examination.Very few attempts have been made to define and clarify the concept of essay tests. They have been used so widely that it is assumed that every body understands its meaning.


1. Robert. L Ebel and David A. Frisbie in their book Essentials of Educational Measurement (1986) writes, “An essay tests presents one or more question or other tasks that require extended written responses from the persons being tested.”

2.Gilbert Sax in Principle of Educational and Psychological Measurement and Evaluation (1986) states, “Essay test is a test containing questions requiring the student to respond in written. Essay test emphasize recall rather than recognition of correct alternative. Essay tests 1 require relatively brief responses or extended may responses”William Wiersma and Stephen G. Jurs in their book Educational Measurement and Testing (1990) write, “Essay item is an item that requires the student to structure a rather long written response up to several paragraphs.”

Merits of Essay Tests:

1. Abilities like logical thinking, critical reasoning and systematic presentation, etc can be best evaluated by the essay type of tests.

2.They provide an opportunity to the student to show their originality of thought as they permit freedom of response.

3.They help to develop good study habits such as preparing outlines and summaries, organizing arguments for and against a topic.

4.They provide opportunities to students to develop abilities such as to organize ideas effectively, to criticize or justify a statement and to interpret, etc.

5.They can be successfully employed for evaluating the performance of students in all the school subjects.

6.It is relatively easier to prepare an essay type test than to prepare an objective type test.

7. It is relatively easier to administer an essay type test.

8.It takes relatively lesser time to mark an essay type test.

9.Guessing is eliminated to some extent.

10. The students cannot guess the answer because they have to supply it.

11. They give examinee freedom to respond within broad limits.

12.They can measure divergent thinking.

13.They require less time for typing, duplicating or printing. They can be written on the black board also if the number of question and student is not very large.

14. It is more economical to use essay type tests than objective tests.

15. They can measure complex learning outcomes, which cannot be measured by other means.

16. They stress integration and application of thinking and problem solving skills.

17.They can be used as an instrument for measuring and improving expression skills and language of the examinees

18.They are more helpful in evaluation the quality of the teaching process.

19. Students focus on learning broad concept and articulating relationship, comparing and contrasting.

20. They set better standards of professional ethics for teachers because they require more time in assessing and scoring, arnis

21. They provide less sscope for unfair means.

Demerits of Essay Type Tests:

1. They generally stress the length enumeration of memorized facts.

2. They have limited content validity because questions can be asked in an essay type test.

3. They are difficult to score objectively because the examinees have wide freedom of expression.

4.There is the lack of consistency in judgments even among competent examiners.

5.They have ‘halo’ effect which means that the examiners judgment in evaluating one characteristic is influenced by another characteristic. A well behaved student on account of his behavior may get more marks. 6. They have ‘question’ carry effect’. A student who gives the best answer in the beginning of the answer book is likely to get more marks in the subsequent and vice versa.

7. They have ‘examinee to examinee which means that a particular student may get carry marks not only on the basis of what he has written but also on the basis of the answer of the previous student.

8.The examiners may be influenced by the language of the examinees. The quality of handwriting of the examinees may also influence the examiners. The length of the answer rather than the depth of the content may also influence marking.

9. Some examiners are too liberal in marking and some too strict.

10.Sometimes it is said that the ‘mood’ of the examiners also influence marking. Immediate happy events in the family or the job may motive the examiner to be more generous. A quarrel in the family may lead to the award of low marks.

11. Essay type of test may not provide a true picture of the comprehension level of the examinee. Some students cram answer and write the same in the examination and get good marks.

12. They are time consuming both for the examiner and the examinee.

13.The speed of writing may influence the performance of the students. Students who are slow in writing may not be able to provide answer to the entire question in the limited timetable allotted for the paper. This results in low scores although the students may be knowing the correct answers of all questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *