Wednesday 4 January 2012

Types of Assessment Tools: Written Examinations

Written examination is the most commonly used type of assessment for certification purposes. This exam assesses candidates’ knowledge in specific areas, as defined in the blueprint. Written examination is best suited for initial certification as it enables a wide coverage of content and it can be used to assess both knowledge and its application. Other advantages that explain the popularity of this method include its low cost for candidates and its decreased cost to administrators as the number of candidates increase. It can also be delivered online and it has a high degree of candidate acceptance.

Written examination is flexible and can be used either on its own or paired with other tools. Although written examination can also be used for re-certification, in practice, this occurs infrequently. In Certification Industry Scan, Knapp & Associates (2007) found that 97% of certifying bodies administered written examination as one form of assessment and, on average, the written examinations included:

98% multiple-choice questions
9% essay questions
8% true-false questions
5% answer completion
3% short answer

The following provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of multiple-choice examinations and other forms of written examinations.

Multiple Choice Exams:
Sound psychometric qualities
Wide coverage of domain content
Can assess both knowledge as well as application of knowledge
Can be scored quickly
Can be administered more than once
Low cost for candidate and decreases as the number of candidates increases
Possibility of online delivery
Well accepted by candidates

Need large pool of questions to ensure their rotation. Measuring practical skills is not always possible
Initial development costs are high, therefore requiring significant investment capital
Requires creation of various versions of the exam to prevent question over-exposure and to ensure security of the test.

Essays//Short Answer/Answer Completion
Can assess both knowledge as well as application of knowledge, can obtain more information in some areas
Can have reasonable coverage of domain content
Cost for candidate is still reasonable
Possibility of online delivery

Need to revise content after each administration
Attention needs to be paid to development of scoring key
Measuring practical skills is not always possible
Scoring can be time-consuming and challenging

This post is based on content from 'Assessment Tools Certification' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

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