Myth Busting: Computer-Based Testing


Myth Busting: Computer-Based Testing

Rory McCorkle, PhD.


If you are still wondering when it’s the right time to move from paper-based testing (PBT) to computer-based testing (CBT), the answer is now. With the future of test administration feeling uncertain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a flexible approach to assessment is imperative, especially when testing sites are closed. Organizations have been transitioning to CBT for decades, but there are still misconceptions that may cause some to hesitate. We thought we’d address some of these myths below.

Myth 1: It’s not secure.

Advancements in technology have made CBT extremely secure. An example of one of the security methods is Linear on the Fly Testing (LOFT), which is used for automated test assembly that creates statistically equivalent forms, thus ensuring that exam difficulty and content is virtually identical throughout. With this process, you don’t have to worry about proximity analysis and seat orders because the computer randomizes items.

Another security method is a lockdown browser that prevents candidates from browsing outside of the exam to cheat. An increasingly popular security method used with CBT is online proctoring technology, which has been proven as a comparable alternative to traditional onsite proctoring. Read the full study here: A Comparative Study of Online Remote Proctored vs. Onsite Proctored High-Stakes Exams.

Myth 2: The candidate experience is worse.

CBT can offer convenience in scheduling an exam at the preference of the candidate. This can also alleviate some testing anxiety with less focus on one big testing event. Additionally, it’s impossible for candidates to make simple mistakes like missing a question or incorrectly filling out an answer bubble. System interfaces have also become very intuitive and user-friendly. With CBT, answers are submitted immediately and candidates can receive results quickly without a stressful wait.

Read more about how you can mitigate test candidate concerns with online proctoring.

Myth 3: The transition to CBT is too much work.

With a solid project plan and clear communication, the transition to a continuous operational state that supports CBT goes smoothly and quickly. Working with an experienced testing partner like PSI, you’re guided through logistics like exam cadence, data information flow, retake roles, and the process for candidates to apply and prove eligibility. Once CBT is established, it’s easier to manage, adjust content, and address issues. What’s also exciting about CBT is the opportunity to use alternative item types, such as performance–based and multimedia.

Myth 4: It’s more expensive.

In addition to savings from less printing and shipping of tests, CBT could offer savings from long term measurement efficiencies. It can also expand your selection of testing venues to increase your reach with candidates, allowing you to grow your testing programs.

While adding CBT is a big change to a delivery strategy, it is worth it to have an exam process that’s agile – especially now.