Usually consisting of sample sentences with blanks where you insert words
Ho hum. Let's flip this paradigm!
First, we rarely use or learn words naturally by their lonesome. They are always in context, and always either spoken & heard or written & read. Thus my vocab test must provide content as well as a lanuage skill.
I have to give just such a vocab test in a Speaking & Listening class of five students next week.
Here's what I plan to do:
Before the test, I had students come up with a small list of words to be tested. We drew from words that cropped up in discussion during the semester, but could have just as easily used canned words from the textbook.
Next, I had students come up for an explanation and example sentence for one word. We checked their responses then I gave them homework - do the same for the rest of the list.
On test day I will give students a blank sheet with space or their name and eleven numbers. I will have the vocab written on scraps of a paper in a bag on my desk. For the first five, I will have students come up one by one, take a word, and without saying the word, explain it to the other students. They will mark an X for the one they read themselves.
For the remaining words, I will draw and read them, and students will have to write the explanations in English.
I may fiddle with number of items and double the value of the written portion, but as a plan, this seems like a novel, multimodal way of testing vocab that breaks the old, artificial mold.