Basic Rules of Test Creation

With the recent popularity of LMS systems that call for testing and tracking of student results, our participants are starting to see a lot of quizzes, assessments, and certifications that are designed by a course designer or – worse – a subject matter expert.

Very few trainers (and no SME’s) have had training in how to create tests that are fair to the participant and legally defensible for the organization. Creating an equitable test is more than just asking 20 questions about the content. A test for knowledge is constructed quite differently than a test for skill. Tests for knowledge, such as paper and pencil tests, need to be constructed in such a way that the correct choice is unambiguous. They should not confuse or purposefully stump the test-taker. Performance tests need to assess the participant’s skill as well as knowledge of the task or process. Often a person can prove they know what to do – but cannot actually perform the task.

Before inflicting an “exam” process on your participants, you must know what you are testing, why you are testing, and what you intend to do with the test results because the impact of testing is far reaching and can often be damaging to individuals as well as organizations.