Adaptive testing is an excellent method to tailor the candidate’s response, as it tests them according to their capabilities and skills. Many educational institutes and businesses’ HR teams use this method for precise tests.
Since it is a testing procedure that adjusts the difficulty of the test according to the student’s response, the method is widely accepted. However, it has both advantages and disadvantages.
Here we will discuss the benefits and limitations of adaptive testing. You will learn everything from its general information and application to its considerable pros & cons.
So, let’s have a quick look at them!
What is Adaptive Testing?
Adaptive testing is a method of administering test that adjusts the difficulty of the succeeding assessment or questions based on the preceding answers. The software algorithm eases up or makes the following question more difficult for the test taker accordingly, which signifies its name “Adaptive.”
Where can Adaptive Testing be Used?
Computer adaptive testing (CAT) is commonly used in many examinations or recruitment platforms. This procedure helps to recognize the candidate’s true potential and reflect how brilliant or lacking their skill/intelligence is. Below are the two major departments most likely to conduct computer adaptive tests.
- Educational Institutes: The educational institutes use this method to test students’ knowledge based on their education level. It allows them to create a more precise and well-structured examination.
- HR Departments: The human resource team of a company can benefit from adaptive testing in short-listing the right candidates for the company. It helps them to analyze the applicants’ capabilities better and handpick the one that matches their standards.
Why Choose Adaptive Testing?
It helps the instructors or the company to mass-test many people, each with their own unique mindset and IQ level. And since the software presents each candidate with different questions (simultaneously) based on their previous answer, it helps departments from the hassle of testing them at different times.
The traditional testing mechanism usually takes more time and tests each candidate on similar ground. It leaves the administrator in doubt about the true potential of that particular person. As computer adaptive testing actually adapts to the student’s mind, the process takes many edges over the traditional system. Some of them are discussed below:
Advantages of Adaptive Testing
One of the most significant advantages of computer adaptive testing is that it saves a lot of time. The CAT reduces the total time of traditional testing by 50% – 90%.
For example, if 60 out of 100 questions are difficult for a bunch of candidates, while 20 are for others, CAT will ease up those 60 and 20 questions. So, when students get easier questions, they are more likely to complete their test faster, reducing total test time.
2. Higher Accuracy
Adaptive testing is also highly precise as it shows the student’s right skill or IQ level. But how is it accurate if someone has easier questions than others? It is because the software calculates the percentile of the answers’ difficulty.
For instance, if two people (named A & B) attempted 15 answers correctly, but A has attempted mostly easier ones while B has taken harder ones, their percentile will differ.
Let’s say A has a percentile of 65%, which means he is smarter than 65% of the population. But B has a percentile of 87%, which means he is more intelligent than 87% of the population.
In this way, the system tests the individual’s strengths and weaknesses rather than providing a one-size-fits-all approach.
3. Cost Efficient
Quick completion of the tests also makes the procedure cost-efficient. If an institute is performing tests in an examination center that charges per hour, they will have to consider a large amount of money. But if the students complete the test within 1 or 1.5 hours, rather than three, institutes can save a huge amount of money.
4. Immediate Results
Instant results are also among the most significant advantages of computer adaptive testing. After the test, the instructors don’t have to check each student’s answers separately.
In fact, the answer is automatically checked as soon as the student attempts it. That’s what made the system show the next question accordingly. So, the instructor has the prompt results right when the student submits their test.
5. Flexible & Secure
Other vital advantages of computer adaptive testing include its flexibility and security. The administrator can assign a question in any format, whether it be text, picture, audio, video, or an attached document. Its computerized nature provides limitless flexibility.
On the other hand, as every candidate receives a customized assessment, it doesn’t matter if they are sitting 6 feet apart or next to each other. Everyone is getting a different variant based on their previous answer.
Disadvantages of Adaptive Testing
Although it is an extremely useful testing method, it also has some limitations.
1. Not Ideal for Every Situation
One of the apparent disadvantages of computer adaptive testing is that it is not suitable for every testing condition. Tests requiring real-time items or containing small sample groups may not be ideal for CAT.
2. Pre-Test Requirements
To make the software’s algorithm identify the right question for candidates, you need to prepare it first, which is quite a lengthy procedure. You may need almost thousands of sample test takers and a Ph.D. psychometrician to feed the software with information, from which it will present questions or assessments to candidates.
3. No Re-answering
Lastly, the drawback that students can’t review the previous answers is one of the major disadvantages of computer adaptive testing. It is arguable as a feature to prevent cheating as the test-taker may first answer wrong to get an easy question, then correct it later. However, it increases the probability of result contamination due to the candidate’s actual mistake.
How to Get Started and Implement Adaptive Testing?
For the successful implementation of an adaptive testing system, you need to take care of its five major components:
- Create a pool of items (questions/assessments) that the CAT will use to generate assessments or questions.
- Assign the first item of the test on medium-difficulty, as the system is unaware of the candidate initially.
- Prepare the algorithm to present those questions earlier that can provide more information to CAT software regarding the candidate’s ability. It will help the system to well-analyze them and give more suitable questions.
- Implement a scoring system that allows the CAT to understand the candidate’s ability correctly.
- Create a termination criterion that will exclude candidates if they continuously fail the questions or fall below the company or exam’s requirements.
Computer adaptive testing has been one of the best methods for the HR departments of companies and educational institutes. It is time-saving, cost-efficient, instant, precise, and secure. Since CAT tests the students or candidates according to their abilities, skills, and knowledge, you get a more accurate result.
However, creating the initial pool of items for the CAT system is stressful. It requires hard work to make the system understand the candidates’ next questions’ difficulty based on their answers. Also, it is not so suitable for every situation. If you can cope with such limitations, you are good to use the adaptive testing method. Else, choosing the traditional method will be a wise choice.