Online Testing

Whilst computer-based testing (CBT) existed well before the advent of the internet, there is no doubting that there has been a rapid rise in the use of computers in testing over the past few years given the pervasiveness of the World Wide Web.

To help address the issues associated with this rapid advancement, the International Test Commission formally adopted the ‘International Guidelines on Computer-Based and Internet Delivered Testing’ in 2005. The avid reader may wish also to peruse the book by Dave Bartram and Ron Hambleton, ‘Computer-Based Testing and the Internet’: published by John Wiley & Sons in 2006. Some of the key issues related to good practice include the following:

  • Performance and technical limitations of the internet: speed, network integrity, reliability, bandwidth, etc
  • Security and intellectual property
  • Privacy
  • Fairness

Online testing certainly allows organisations to assess individuals from around the globe in a very timely manner. However, it is important that appropriate control is exercised with respect to test administration over the internet.

A key issue relates to ensuring that high stakes testing (as occurs in most selection assignments) is undertaken in well supervised and well managed environments. This is particularly true when applicants are required to undertake ability or cognitive tests. It is important to ensure that the tests are administered to the right person and that the person does not receive any external assistance. On the other hand, there is some evidence to indicate that preference and personality profiling is equally valid whether the session is supervised or unsupervised by a test administrator.

Technology will also play a strong part in the development of a range of different tests. Item Response Theory (IRT) and adaptive tests using very large item banks are just some of the enhancements anticipated over the next few years.

Although Compass Consulting makes use of online testing, we do not see this as superseding the need to ensure that a professional, integrated and holistic assessment is conducted. Furthermore, dialogue and qualitative self-report questionnaires can add insightful additions to a standard computer-based psychometric assessment.