Computer Based Exams Not Doing So Well

from the back-to-paper dept

I have to admit that I was glad to get out of college and grad school before they started forcing people to take all those standardized tests on the computer. When those proposals first came up, I thought it was awful, since I remembered using the test paper to do a lot of my scratch work and (most helpfully) to cross out answers I knew were wrong. Though, now that I spend most of my waking hours in front of a computer, I think I wouldn’t be as bothered by computerized standardized testing. However, as Wired is pointing out, computerized standardized testing brings up another set of issues. ETS is going back to paper based testing in Asia after they discovered websites were giving out answers to questions that were currently being used. One of the problems with computer based testing is they have to keep the same questions in rotation for a while, allowing them to get out in the open. Of course, some people still question the whole concept of standardized testing, but that’s a whole different story.

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Comments on “Computer Based Exams Not Doing So Well”

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neilathotep (user link) says:

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“One of the problems with computer based testing is they have to keep the same questions in rotation for a while, allowing them to get out in the open.”
I don’t think they HAVE to keep the same questions in rotation for a while, but that is what they do. It’s not an inherent flaw in the system, but with their implementation. Assuming the pool of questions is the same as the pool of questions for the paper based exams, there is no good reason why they can’t change the pool of questions more often. If they could ship out large numbers of test booklets each week to their testing centers, there is no good reason that they couldn’t send out a CD of new questions instead. It seems more like laziness on the part of ETS than an intrinsic problem with computer based testing.

u2604ab says:

Re: Re: Paper test version of this scam

In the days of paper tests, each unique test was only given once. It was given throughout the world on one day.

The scam worked by having professional test memorizers take the test in an early time zone (like Japan or Australia), write down as many questions and answers as possible, and fax them to their cohorts in earlier time zones (like California) while there was still time to study the questions and answers.

If you think about it, for a reasonably bright test-taker, only the hardest 10% of the questions will be tricky, so it’s not like a huge amount of memorization needed to happen in the hours before the tests.

After hearing about this scam on NPR in the late 80s, I always wondered about the people that got perfect SAT scores.

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