In order to preserve the security of an exam, and to ensure the longevity and validity of their credentials, many of the organizations we work with in building and maintaining an assessment program choose to secure their tests with bank-based testing. Bank-based testing allows your organization to randomly and automatically generate a test form, a strategy that prevents cheating, extends the life of your test items, and maintains the integrity of your exam bank. The key types of bank-based testing include Linear on-the-fly Testing (LOFT), LOFT with Testlets, Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT-FL, CAT-VL), and Computerized Mastery Testing (CMT). Each of these bank types have their advantages and can be deployed to meet the specific needs of your testing blueprints.

Linear on-the-Fly Testing (LOFT)

What is LOFT? LOFT is the assembly of a test form at the point of testing just before, or even during the administration of the test, and is used to generate unique comparable forms for each test-taker. LOFT requires that all items are pre-tested and placed on a common scale, and that the test using LOFT is administered using computer-based testing.

Key Advantage:

Testlet-level LOFT is an ideal strategy when the test blueprint is simple enough to be sampled with a single testlet, or when the test item pool is big enough to create multiple parallel testlets. In addition, the number of items required for LOFT with testlets is smaller than conventional LOFT, requiring about five full-length test forms worth of items. This gives testlet-level LOFT greater flexibility with assessments with smaller item pools, while still providing security to protect the integrity and longevity of an exam.

Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT-FL, CAT-VL)

What is CAT? A computerized adaptive test is one that administers test items near a test-taker’s level of ability, progressively tailoring itself to their responses as the exam progresses. CAT is built around an iterative algorithm, providing a substantial level of variability in the test form between tests.

Key Advantage:

Because CAT adapts to each test-taker, the security of the test form and items depends on their responses, meaning that the forms are highly customized to responses and have a high level of security, as it is difficult for potential cheaters to anticipate what items they will receive as the test progresses. This also means that CAT can yield precise scores with shorter test forms, as the ability scale is calibrated into each item. While this requires a properly calibrated item pool, this is an ideal exam banking method for large target audiences of test-takers, as the combination of fewer items required to reach a precise score, and the reduced time required to complete the overall exam present a significant savings. As with LOFT test delivery, CAT must be administered via computer-based testing.

Computerized Mastery Testing (CMT)

What is CMT? Computerized Mastery Testing provides an additional level of verification above and beyond CAT methods of administration. CAT can present classification errors in its pass-fail decisions, either through false positives or false negatives, meaning that individuals are incorrectly passed or failed based on a limited number of scoring criteria. CMT allows an assessment to serve “intermediate” testlets to individuals who do not meet the initial pass-fail criteria, providing a more in-depth testing scenario for a program’s assessment.

Key Advantage:

One key advantage to CMT is the tolerance with which your organization can specify error. You decide the weight of each pass/fail decision, if there needs to be follow-up to explore that decision, and how to score subsequent responses. In short, CMT allows for a greater contextual understanding of complex responses in scoring a test result. Subsequently, a second advantage to CMT is that fewer questions are required to create a testlet pool that with conventional CAT.


Final Thoughts

Each of the exam banking strategies discussed here can provide your assessment program with the security, flexibility, and adaptability necessary to ensure the longevity of your exams. With our experience in building assessments for our clients, and the psychometric expertise we provide, creating a new assessment program or growing an existing exam is a streamlined process. Ready to learn more? See how you can leverage the latest capabilities in AI to increase your item bank by rapidly producing items at up to 10X the speed.

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