Adolescent test-taker characteristics

A qualitative validation study of a Chinese language reading examination in Singapore


  • Yun-Yee Cheong Singapore University of Social Sciences



Adolescent test-taker characteristics, qualitative research, test validation, literacy assessment, motivation


This qualitative validation study investigates the characteristics and needs of adolescent test-takers sitting the reading paper of the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary-Level Chinese Language Examination (GCE 1160). Specifically, evidence gathered through semi-structured interview and document analysis was organised around the following three issues: adolescence and adolescent literacy; reading motivation, interests and authenticity; and new technologies and reading literacy. Findings from the analysis suggest that Singaporean adolescents are generally becoming less motivated to read extensively in the Chinese language, seemingly the direct result of digital technologies and heavy homework loads. It also appeared that motivation to read is connected to the relevance and appeal of texts available as well as the perceived value of reading in securing better education and job opportunities. Another pattern illustrated by the study was that the internet is the defining technology for literacy and learning for Singaporean adolescents. Whilst evidence suggested that the GCE 1160 reading examination is designed with adequate knowledge of adolescence and adolescent literacy, several threats to validity were identified, including the relatively low appeal of the passages to test-takers, and their relevance, authenticity and sensitivity to new technologies and reading literacy. Drawing on a socio-cognitive validation framework, the study analyses these threats to validity and outlines practical directions whereby policy-makers and test designers might develop the reading examination.

Author Biography

Yun-Yee Cheong, Singapore University of Social Sciences

Yun-Yee Cheong is Adjunct Faculty Member (Consultant) in TESOL Language Testing and Evaluation at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. She holds a PhD degree in Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment from University College London Institute of Education and was a Visiting Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Yun-Yee is also Programme Chair for the Test Validity Research and Evaluation Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).


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How to Cite

Cheong, Y.-Y. . (2021). Adolescent test-taker characteristics: A qualitative validation study of a Chinese language reading examination in Singapore. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 2(2), 180–206.