English As A Second Language: Assessment Tests and Exercises For Your ESL Students

Words That Confuse

There are many words in the English language that may confuse your English as a Second Language students, especially when you come across those words that can be used with different meanings. This occurs with nouns as well as verbs. Your students' practice in identifying such words can be followed by tests used for assessment of English as a Second Language. In this article we will practice some everyday nouns that conform to this pattern. Look at the following nouns and their meanings:

  1. post – this word can have the meaning of a post on a website. It can also mean a post like that of a door post. In addition, it can mean to post a letter or post on horseback (rise and fall in a rhythm on the saddle).
  2. button – a button to be pressed for opening an object like a door, for example; or a button on a shirt, blouse, dress or skirt.
  3. station – a radio station or a bus or train station. It also refers to a waitress's station or the location when a soldier is stationed.
  4. thread – the thread of a conversation or thread for sewing a torn garment. On the web, a thread is a chain of responses to a post on a blog or website.

Noun Test

Have your students read a passage and, with the aid of dictionaries, assist them in identifying words like these, which have different meanings according to their context. Next, test the students by having them compose sentences made from the list of words they have discovered. Give one point for each correct sentence. According to your students’ knowledge of vocabulary, some of them may be able to identify even more meanings for the words they have found. Give an extra point for each new meaning and each new sentence formed.

Adjective Test

A lesson on the formation of the antonyms or opposite of adjectives can be followed by an assessment test. For example tell your students “today we will learn how to form the opposite of adjectives, or what is called their antonyms, by using the prefixes –in, -im, and –il. Here are some examples:


  • capable – incapable
  • competent-incompetent


  • possible –impossible
  • polite – impolite


  • logical – illogical
  • legal –illegal.

Give students examples of sentences made with these words, then give them a reading passage; ask them to pick out the adjectives that form their antonyms like the examples given. Give one point for each correct answer.

Past Participle Test

In this lesson on past participles, you teach the infinitive of verbs, which is used for all present tense verbs and also extensively in the passive voice. You then assign students an exercise to detect the irregular past participles. The exercise can take this form:

Exercise: In each series of verb infinitives, there is one verb, which has a past participle that is not irregular. It does not end like that of the other verbs. Find it.

  • to see, to be, to make
  • to sow, to live, to grow
  • to choose, to give, to take, to want
  • to write, to bite, to leave, to eat
  • to drink, to sink, to meet.

Answers: to make, to live, to want, to leave, to meet

Exercises Create Awareness

These exercises should provide fun for students, in addition to making the learning of the grammar involved memorable and applicable to real-life situations. Past participles also pose a problem even for English speakers. How many times have you heard “I could have went” instead of "I could have gone" and “I would have saw” instead of "I would have seen." Exercises like these encourage students to pay particular attention, so they will be able to catch wrong usage when they hear it.