Teaching & Learning


Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA)

What TESTA is and how to conduct a TESTA audit. 

The words Teaching toolkits ucl arena centre on a blue background

1 August 2019

Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA) is an approach to investigating assessment patterns across a programme in order to identify how assessment can better support learning.

The TESTA approach has been used in over 40 UK universities, and in Australia, India and the USA.

The approach involves:

  • data collection though a programme audit
  • student focus group
  • questionnaire.

Data is analysed by the programme team who collectively implement change.

Educational benefits for your students

Assessment is often thought about at a modular level but students’ experience of assessment is affected by all the modules they are taking at a particular time and how their current assessment relates to assessment on previous modules.

The impact of modularisation has often resulted in an increase in assessment (Harland et al 2014) and lack of cohesion at the programme level.

TESTA aims to present a picture of how students experience assessment across the programme so that the team can discuss patterns of over assessment, bunching of assessment, varieties of assessment, amount and quality of feedback, timeliness of feedback etc.

How to do a TESTA audit

  1. Gather your programme team to conduct the audit. The team should consist of the programme lead, module leads for core modules and a couple of typical option modules, and the programme administrator.
  2. Carry out a programme audit. You do this by:
  • counting the number of summative and formative assessments for each module and each year of the programme;
  • noting the different varieties of assessment (e.g. Multiple Choice Question exam, oral presentation, laboratory report, explanatory essay).
  1. Carry out a student focus group, using the TESTA focus group plan. You can also add your own questions around issues that have arisen in student evaluations or the National Student Survey (NSS) data for your programme
  2. Consider using the TESTA student experience questionnaire (word doc). 
  3. Compare your programme audit data to the TESTA Russell Group data (see UCL TESTA Moodle).
  4. Share all the data with the programme team and organise a meeting to discuss findings and agree changes (see TESTA reports and change plans in UCL TESTA Moodle). 
  5. Carry out a follow up evaluation to assess the impact of any changes.

See the TESTA website for more details, particularly the tools for conducting an audit.


TESTA Project at UCL

TESTA at UCL is a project that will support departments to use the TESTA process to make sure their assessment strategies maximise the potential for student learning and success.

From 2019-20, UCL will pilot the systematic use of TESTA across a number of departments who wish to review their assessment strategies.

This guide has been produced by the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education. You are welcome to use this guide if you are from another educational facility, but you must credit the UCL Arena Centre.