Computer-based testing (CBT) has taken hold in nearly every professional sector. CBT combines all the necessities of paper and pencil-based testing (PBT) into an electronic format, making test administration more flexible, convenient, and secure. There are many benefits to CBT, which can improve outcomes for the testing sponsor, the testing candidate, and improve the overall candidate experience.
Unlock Additional Testing Opportunities
Clients of ours have found that by switching to a CBT format, they are able to both lengthen the testing window and increase the number of locations where testing is available to candidates, whereas paper-based exams often limit both the scale and scope of the test. Computer-based testing substantially decreases the importance of a candidate's physical location, granting them the convenience and flexibility to test almost anywhere.
An additional, one-off benefit of transitioning to CBT and expanding test availability is that an increased number of candidates can be accommodated at any one time. Occasionally, with high-stakes tests, seats fill up early, and those candidates who wait until the last minute to register for an exam end up scrambling to find an opening. Candidate testing volume, an important measurement in any testing program, often increases as a side-effect of the enhanced availability that comes with CBT.
Offer Improved Test Security
Another benefit and strength of CBT is the increased security it offers program owners. Paper-based tests must be printed, transported to the testing location and stored in a secure location until the test date, and while PBT remains a secure way to test, CBT offers an enhanced level of protection. CBTs are encrypted and transferred electronically from the test administrator's data center directly to the testing center over a secure and private network. Since the encrypted test never actually sees the "light of day" until a candidate brings it up on their PC, there is almost complete absence of transport risk.
An additional security risk of any administered test is item exposure and test content security. Various test navigation and presentation strategies, made possible only through CBT, can help mitigate item exposure concerns. Test items can be stored electronically and either pre-selected by the test sponsor for a given exam or randomly pulled on test day. Additionally, advancements in item management software have made it easier for organizations to maintain an up-to-date item bank and remove or replace test items easily and at will.
Increase Test Accessibility
Accessibility improvements are a large benefit of adopting CBT. The use of a computer allows many accessibility options that may have been challenging for paper and pencil tests. Remote assessment, screen reading, speech recognition, language translation, screen magnification, timing flexibility, font magnification, and other accommodations can provide an equitable testing experience for candidates. Testing on an equal playing field improves the validity of the credential and its sponsor and can lead to significant improvements in a candidate’s testing experience.
Test with More Realistic Experiences
Perhaps the most dynamic aspect of CBT is its ability to more closely replicate the "real life" experiences of people in any profession. Candidates of computer-based tests may be presented with colorful high-resolution images or relevant video clips as part of their testing experiences, often replicating a more true-to-life testing experience.
There is most certainly an argument for the computerization of certification exams, especially with those testing programs that require larger scale, higher stakes, or increased flexibility. Computerization and digitization of content is growing more prevalent in every aspect of society, with the medical profession often at the cutting edge. Some exams in the medical sector are even using sophisticated simulations, including some each test taker may experience differently, which provides both increased security and higher engagement from test takers.
Providing Great Candidate Experiences
Increased opportunities for assessment, flexibility in scheduling, improved security, greater accessibility, and more modern, cutting-edge test content are all important parts of the candidate experience.
Computer-based exams provide a more intuitive method for candidates to complete their exams. One feature many candidates appreciate about CBT is its auto-grading capabilities. While paper-based exams require additional time to manually grade, some computer-based exams can provide candidates an exam score within minutes of completing the exam.
For testing audiences who may be new to the idea of computerized exams, there are many ways to help ease the candidate’s transition.
The computerization of tests ensures that future professionals are experiencing the most accurate, secure and "practical" experience possible – assuring that the rest of us will be well-cared for in the future.