What Options Are Available For Test Delivery?
Twenty years ago, virtually all exams were administered via paper and pencil, with many large-scale tests only available one or two days a year. Computer-based testing and specially-equipped testing labs made more frequent test administrations practical while preserving the integrity and security of the exam.
Today, well over a million exams a month are delivered worldwide via computer, both in-person and with online exam proctoring. The adoption rate is expected to grow as test sponsors explore innovative item types and advanced multimedia to create ever more engaging and effective assessments.
As the technology evolves, test-takers will continue to benefit from these advancements, improving the candidate testing experience while providing exceptional testing opportunities.
Computerized Exams Provide a More True-to-Life Experience
It's generally agreed that PBT and CBT methods are efficient. However, anyone considering a new test must carefully consider the pros and cons of each in light of what the test needs to accomplish.
For example, association executives launching new member certification programs might consider how their business segments would react to both computer-based or paper and pencil certification exams. Key considerations are exam administration, delivery, scoring, and security.
Fortunately, test sponsors creating complex and detailed certification exams can find a collaborative testing partner in the test service provider industry. A testing professional can carefully consider test formats, and if determined that CBT is a good option, the testing partner can help facilitate the change. From a straight migration of the original exam to revisions, expansions, and even creating something entirely new, a refresh provides an improved candidate testing experience for sponsor and candidate alike.
Easing the Transition To Computer-Based Testing
Many organizations find that CBT provides a secure, consistent environment for certification and licensure and experience long-term growth after converting. However, the transition between PBT and CBT can affect candidate behavior, and it's important to have a plan to improve candidate adoption.
Candidate outreach and communication is the key to buy-in. Early in the transition process, it's helpful to provide candidates with information and education about the benefits of CBT. Anticipate questions candidates may have and provide answers. It's also valuable to offer an opportunity to try out the testing system and plenty of easy-to-understand documentation.
Ensuring your candidates know what to expect will reduce anxiety and apprehension and lay the groundwork for a smooth transition.
Challenges and Opportunities in Online Testing
Many of the same challenges are faced by CBT and PBT, including those relating to security, psychometric editing, and legal defensibility.
However, CBT brings more novel challenges, including an increased risk of candidate cheating and item overexposure. Organizations must address these risks by maintaining high-security standards and following best practices for test development, like expanded online test item banks, test item refreshment policies, and other ways to decrease information sharing.
A test development professional partner, like Prometric, can help organizations mitigate these risks by providing secure online exam proctoring and psychometric evaluation and editing of developed tests by trained and experienced professionals.
Among the opportunities presented by online testing is an increase in test accessibility. Individuals facing mobility issues or who are affected by specific circumstances that limit their testing abilities benefit greatly from remote assessments. Testing that can incorporate assistive technology like screen readers, in-exam chat, flexible scheduling, and "second chance" retake opportunities are a growing part of the assessment landscape, ultimately benefiting candidates of all kinds.
The Future of Distance Learning Today
"Distance learning" can be a catch-all phrase, but some organizations are leading the way in defining best practices for distance learning. In the wake of Covid-19, distance learning has become more important than ever before — and practically everyone has been affected by it.
One organization that stands out as an exemplar of distance learning is the non-profit Western Governors University. WGU was the creation of 19 state governors and offers an entirely online experience. Its mission is to "provide a means for people to learn independent of time or place." Students earn degrees by demonstrating competencies rather than completing required courses or credit hours with WGU's mentor-led competency-based academic model.
Using an Internet-based testing platform, WGU offers pre-assessment exams for its students who wish to measure their level of knowledge in a specific area before sitting for an exam. This highly flexible program shows unlimited growth potential. In fact, over the past several years, WGU's assessment volume has grown by 100 percent, meeting a demand for those who might otherwise have to forgo additional education. Clearly, it’s a mission that’s been well met.
Why Test Delivery Matters to Candidates and Sponsors
The wild success of WGU's competency-based model showcases the importance of a test candidate’s experience with an assessment.
While only some candidates may be really excited about taking an exam, typically, the majority of test takers want to make the most of the experience, so it's essential to meet them where they are.
Convenience is also important, from taking an in-person exam at a location that isn't far from a candidate's home to the ability to take a test without going to a testing center at all. The latter can be a game-changer for some exam takers, like those seeking the American Welding Society's Certified Welding Inspector certification, which doubled the number of exams it offered when it started CBT. Exam takers have praised the changes that enabled a divided exam period allowing additional studying, access to searchable ebooks for open-book exams, and immediate feedback on exam completion.
While test sponsors are most concerned about security, from data privacy to cheating prevention, test-takers also value these. Test candidates want a streamlined security check-in process, which a live, online proctor can facilitate. The overwhelming majority of test-takers want their assessment to reflect their personal best work and knowledge.
Benefits of a Proctoring Service
As we know, examinations are a tried and true process of showing proof of knowledge — from oral dissertations to written exams to standardized bubble tests and computerized tests… No matter the delivery method, the best test experiences are streamlined, user-friendly, equitable, and support a test taker's best work.
Prometric covers the full spectrum of test distribution methods, including traditional paper-based and computer-based tests, internet-based testing, and more. Prometric's test development professionals can help organizations determine the best options for availability at test centers, delivery frequency, and most efficient delivery model.