Computer-based testing (CBT) is an efficient way for test sponsors to provide a secure, consistent environment for certification and licensure while significantly enhancing the candidate experience. It is common for testing volumes to increase after a full conversion from paper-based testing (PBT) to CBT, often as a result of the availability of a greater number of testing locations and more flexible scheduling and testing opportunities. Migration from PBT to CBT does affect candidate behavior, however, and it is possible for some testing programs to experience brief reductions in demand triggered by candidate apprehension regarding CBT. This sometimes results in either a last-minute increase in testing during final PBT administrations or candidate procrastination to the last available computerized testing date. Therefore, the question facing licensing organizations is how to keep test volumes up and candidate uncertainty down when migrating from a paper-based to a computer-based test?
The key to mitigating test volume risk and ultimately driving an increase in demand is ongoing marketing, candidate education and outreach. In terms of promoting the new computerized testing program, marketing and effective communication can have an important impact on stakeholder acceptance of CBT and comfort with its use.
In order to allay candidate fears and minimize questions, it is prudent to launch a communications campaign early in the conversion process that directly addresses constituent concerns and promotes sustainable program interest. Some of the more commonly utilized and effective candidate communications outreach initiatives include:
Taking any or all of these steps to reach out to candidates in advance of a newly computerized test is critical to easing the transition. The main goal of each of the initiatives above is to keep candidates informed. Without candidate education, awareness and ultimate buy-in, candidates may refuse to test or delay testing, impacting testing volumes and, ultimately, revenues.
Frequent communication with the candidate base is essential when migrating from PBT to CBT. In the absence of information, anxiety regarding the new delivery methodology may increase and impact candidate behavior. If candidates think the new CBT tests will be more difficult, they may rush to participate in one of the final paper-based tests, affecting test capacity and revenue streams. Organizations can undertake a number of initiatives, in isolation or in combination, to generate interest in and support of candidates. Ultimately, educating candidates and making their experiences as positive as possible will drive volume and success for the testing program.
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