A cloze test (also cloze deletion test) is an exercise, test, or assessment consisting of a portion of text with certain words removed (cloze text), where the participant is asked to replace the missing words. Cloze tests require the ability to understand context and vocabulary in order to identify the correct words or type of words that belong in the deleted passages of a text. This exercise is commonly administered for the assessment of native and second language learning and instruction.
Words may be deleted from the text in question either mechanically (every nth word) or selectively, depending on exactly what aspect it is intended to test for. The methodology is the subject of an extensive academic literature; nonetheless, teachers commonly devise ad hoc tests.
A language teacher may give the following passage to students:
Today, I went to the ________ and bought some milk and eggs. I knew it was going to rain, but I forgot to take my ________, and ended up getting wet on the way.
Students would then be required to fill in the blanks with words that would best complete the passage. Context in language and content terms is essential in most, if not all, cloze tests. The first blank is preceded by "the"; therefore, a noun, an adjective or an adverb must follow. However, a conjunction follows the blank; the sentence would not be grammatically correct if anything other than a noun were in the blank. The words "milk and eggs" are important for deciding which noun to put in the blank; "supermarket" is a possible answer; depending on the student, however, the first blank could be store, supermarket, shop, market, or grocer while umbrella or raincoat fit the second.
The definition of success in a given cloze test varies, depending on the broader goals behind the exercise. Assessment may depend on whether the exercise is objective (i.e. students are given a list of words to use in a cloze) or subjective (i.e. students are to fill in a cloze with words that would make a given sentence grammatically correct).
I saw a man lay his jacket on a puddle for a woman crossing the street. I thought that was very ______.
Given the above passage, students' answers may then vary depending on their vocabulary skills and their personal opinions. However, the placement of the blank at the end of the sentence restricts the possible words that may complete the sentence; following an adverb and finishing the sentence, the word is most likely an adjective. Romantic, chivalrous or gallant may, for example, occupy the blank, as well as foolish or cheesy. Using those answers, a teacher may ask students to reflect on the opinions drawn from the given cloze.
In addition to use in testing, cloze deletion can be used in learning, particularly language learning, but also learning facts. This may be done manually – for example, by covering sections of a text with paper, or highlighting sections of text with a highlighter, then covering the line with a colored ruler in the complementary color (say, a red ruler for green highlighter) so the highlighted text disappears; this is popular in Japan, for instance. Cloze deletion can also be used as part of spaced repetition software, for example the SuperMemo and Anki applications feature semi-automated creation of cloze tests.
- Taylor, W. L. (1953). "Cloze procedure: A new tool for measuring readability". Journalism Quarterly. 30: 415–433.
- Sachs, J.; Tung, P.; Lam, R. (Spring 1977). "How to Construct a Cloze Test: Lessons from Testing Measurement Theory Models". Perspectives. City University of Hong Kong. 9.
- Hanzeli, Victor E. (May 1977). "The Effectiveness of Cloze Tests in Measuring the Competence of Students of French in an Academic Setting". The French Review. 50 (6): 865–874. JSTOR 389444.