The value of a well-constructed test

The goal of testing is to accurately measure knowledge or ability, and to use this information to make informed judgements about the test-taker's readiness to move on to a job or other level of training. Testing decisions based on erroneous judgments about individual readiness can be costly: by placing test-takers in jobs for which they are not ready, and in denying advancement to test-takers who are ready to move on effectively.

A good test distinguishes between test-takers who possess a defined body of knowledge and skill from those who do not. This sounds simple, but is considerably more difficult to achieve. The test must reflect the specific job or profession, with the right emphasis on the tasks and knowledge required. Test questions need to measure job knowledge, and not other characteristics unrelated to the job. Scoring must be defensible and help candidates determine next steps for further study or advancement.

Starting from Scratch: Creating a New Test

Working in tandem with Professional Examination Service (PES), TesTrac can survey your profession or training courses to determine what kinds of questions should be on your test. Your test should reflect the most critical and frequently used elements of practice or training. TesTrac can help you create a detailed test blueprint that will guide you in writing questions for your test.

When you are ready to write questions, TesTrac can help you train and guide content experts to write questions that will provide a true indication of test-takers' knowledge. Many of today's test-takers are very savvy about how to answer test questions; it is important to construct questions that will test actual knowledge and not just test-taking skills. Sometimes, it is important to assess whether test-takers have more than just book-knowledge. TesTrac can help you to write questions that assess real ability to apply knowledge in a work setting.

A Pick and Choose Package of Options for Improving Your Current Test

If you have a test currently in use, TesTrac and PES can review this with you and make recommendations for improving the quality of the test. These recommendations can be presented as a pick and choose package, helping you make major changes or just minor adjustments. These recommendations might include:

  • Revising questions to make them more challenging, or to eliminate clues for test-savvy individuals. This might include editorial assistance to refine awkwardly worded questions, or more intensive revision to rewrite certain questions.

  • Checks for fairness and stereotyping in test questions. Some questions may be constructed in ways that are unfair to a particular group of test-takers, or, may contain unintentional but offensive stereotyping. These problems may not only impair your test's ability to assess actual knowledge, but may also open the test to challenges.

  • Identification of question types that might be more appropriate for testing different kinds of knowledge. The question types available through TesTrac include multiple choice, true false, graphic or hot-spot items, matching, ranking, fill-in-the-blank, and essay. TesTrac and PES can identify the types of questions you should be asking.

  • Statistical analysis of response patterns to questions. This kind of analysis evaluates whether questions are working well, and offers guidance for revision. Next time out, the exam will more accurately determine who has the knowledge and skill and who does not.

Setting a fair and defensible passing point for your test

Some tests are scored using the traditional 75% as a passing point. Is the passing point on your test set to identify test-takers who have the knowledge and skill necessary to perform in the position for which you are testing? Testrac and PES can help you set a passing point that will provide a defensible distinction between those test-takers who have the necessary knowledge and those who do not.

Making the most of your score reporting

A score report should provide more than just a tally of correct and incorrect answers. TesTrac and PES can design a score report for you that identifies a test-taker's strengths and weaknesses. This is also an opportunity to provide test-takers with information for training or study resources offered either by your organization or by others.


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