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What are the factors to consider when selecting high stakes online tests.

Factors to consider when selecting high stakes online tests

High-stakes online test is simply a test that has important consequences for the test taker. Such important consequences are, for instance, an acquisition of high school diploma, a scholarship, a possibility to drive a car, or a license to practice a profession. The computer-based online tests render many compelling reasons for using them as compared to the conventional paper-based tests. Computer-based test is a term which encompasses online test that can be thus considered as a sub-class of computer-based test, wherein the test is taken online. The only minor difference between both terms is that computer-based exam might only be conducted on a computer-based software, while online exam might be conducted from anywhere in the world through the use of internet. A distinction that is so small that both terms are mostly used as a synonym. Efficiency of the online testing procedure allows you to perform more tests and obtain immediate feedback on results. In addition, high stakes online tests enable innovative testing of candidates as a result of advanced technological capabilities. Choosing the right high stakes online test is thus of the utmost importance since it can ensure that testing procedure is efficient and in conformity with the requirements of a particular testing. Presented below are therefore some of the crucial factors that need to be considered when selecting the right high stakes online test. 1.

Test-taking experience

Recent study on introduction of computer-based testing in high exams found out that students generally preferred paper-based tests as opposed to computer-based tests. Surprisingly enough, as many as half of the participants expressly favored paper-based test over the computer-based exam. On the other hand, only a quarter of students preferred the computer-based exam. Do not let this result discourage you from implementing high stakes online tests. As has been established by Hochlehnert as well, functionality or the absence of it is the reason for students not to choose a computer-based test. Paper-based tests namely ensure students to work in a structured manner and have good overview of their progress and overall boost their ability to concentrate. Even though there is no discrepancy between performance in both test types, students evidently feel less in control when taking computer-based test. Although taking the computer-based exam for the first time as opposed to being used of taking paper-based exams for your whole life might have something to do with overall test-taking experience, the way online test is drawn up and formulated still plays a significant role. When choosing the right high stakes online test make sure that it allows students to have an overview and control over the test at all times. 2.

Compatibility

To achieve previously mentioned efficiency, an online or computer-based test needs to be as widely accepted as possible. This goes both for Mac and Windows operating system as well as the possibility to roll out high stakes tests on any device. Conversely, as linguistic interpretation might imply, computer-based test must be compatible with tablets and mobile phones as well. Among reasons for wide compatibility of high stakes online test across several devices is also that additional noise from the keyboard distracts test takers, which can produce worse results. Taking a test on a mobile device or tablet that don't generate any redundant noise might, therefore, be even a desired option. 3.

Number of authentication procedures

Security is an important issue many mention while talking about high stakes online testing. In fact, test-security is probably the biggest drawback preventing online testing to be used more widely. Nevertheless, there are several authentication procedures already used that are able to minimize the chances of fraudulent behavior and can even improve simplicity and overall test-experience. Authentication steps like Biometric Authentication, IP Authentication, and One Time Passwords, for instance, can be easily implemented in such computer-based test. Furthermore, in his research paper, Durojaye developed a computer-based testing system that can be adapted for majority of online tests with reliable security and result integrity. As a result, although important, computer-based test security is far from being an insurmountable obstacle. You just need to select an online test that provides sufficient number of reliable authentication procedures. 4.

Customization Option

It is always advisable that the chosen computer-based test allows you as many customization options as possible. Multiple-choice questions are by far the most widely used in high stakes test. Reason for this most notably lies in simplicity of verification of test results. It is much easier to check whether a multiple-choice question has been answered correctly than for, instance a short or even longer answers since they increase the risk of subjectivity. But multiple-choice questions often include several test-taking strategies that might not always be possible with computer-based exams. Strategies such as eliminating certain answers, marking of keywords, and making notes are usually only possible with paper-based test unless online test specifically offers such functionalities as well. Other customization options like time limits, randomizing questions, choosing between different question types, and between public & private access are also preferred. 5.

Multilingualism

Computer-based test are particularly useful for conducting exams across great distances. Consequently, participants in the exam might come from separate areas or even countries. If this is the case, you should consider choosing a test that is available in multiple languages. For instance, TCExam is such an open source system for computer-based testing that is language independent, meaning that it includes translations in several languages. 6.

Continuous online support and assistance

Another important factor that not many people take into consideration when choosing the online test platform. Considering the fact that high stake tests have major consequences or are the basis of major decisions, prompt and efficient response is absolutely necessary. Many exams are conducted at the same time nationwide in order to prevent cheating. If an issue arises, it should be resolved immediately since integrity of the whole system could be at stake. Not to mention that you and your candidates would really appreciate such quick response when facing with technical issues. 7.

Price

Last but not least, price is a factor that must always be regarded and is not inherent only to online tests. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics concerning the financial aspect of computer-based tests that has to be mentioned. First, these kind of tests minimize logistical, infrastructure, operational, and human costs making computer-based exams much cheaper. Not only that, online tests allow you to save time that would be otherwise used for preparing and coordinating the test as well as for result generation. As a result, even though the price of computer-based license might often seem quite hefty, taking everything in mind, in the long run, it is still worth investing in this new technology.

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