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A test or examination is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker's knowledge, skill, aptitude, physical fitness, or classification in many other topics (e.g., beliefs). A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally. An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child. An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom or an I.Q. test administered by a psychologist in a clinic. Formal testing often results in a gradeor a test score. A test score may be interpreted with regards to a norm or criterion, or occasionally both. The norm may be established independently, or by statistical analysis of a large number of participants.
A standardized test is any test that is administered and scored in a consistent manner to ensure legal defensibility. Standardized tests are often used in education, professional certification, psychology (e.g., MMPI), the military, and many other fields.
A non-standardized test is usually flexible in scope and format, variable in difficulty and significance. Since these tests are usually developed by individual instructors, the format and difficulty of these tests may not be widely adopted or used by other instructors or institutions. A non-standardized test may be used to determine the proficiency level of students, to motivate students to study, and to provide feedback to students. In some instances, a teacher may develop non-standardized tests that resemble standardized tests in scope, format, and difficulty for the purpose of preparing their students for an upcoming standardized test. Finally, the frequency and setting by which a non-standardized tests are administered are highly variable and are usually constrained by the duration of the class period. A class instructor may for example, administer a test on a weekly basis or just twice a semester. Depending on the policy of the instructor or institution, the duration of each test itself may last for only five minutes to an entire class period.
In contrasts to non-standardized tests, standardized tests are widely used, fixed in terms of scope, difficulty and format, and are usually significant in consequences. Standardized tests are usually held on fixed dates as determined by the test developer, educational institution, or governing body, which may or may not be administered by the instructor, held within the classroom, or constrained by the classroom period. Although there is little variability between different copies of the same type of standardized test (e.g., SAT or GRE), there is variability between different types of standardized tests.
Any test with important consequences for the individual test taker is referred to as a high-stakes test.
A test may be developed and administered by an instructor, a clinician, a governing body, or a test provider. In some instances, the developer of the test may not be directly responsible for its administration. For example, Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization, develops standardized tests such as the SAT but may not directly be involved in the administration or proctoring of these tests. As with the development and administration of educational tests, the format and level of difficulty of the tests themselves are highly variable and there is no general consensus or invariable standard for test formats and difficulty. Often, the format and difficulty of the test is dependent upon the educational philosophy of the instructor, subject matter, class size, policy of the educational institution, and requirements of accreditation or governing bodies. In general, tests developed and administered by individual instructors are non-standardized whereas tests developed by testing organizations are standardized.
Students taking a scholarshipexamination inside a classroom in 1940
Ancient China was the first country in the world that implemented a nationwide standardized test, which was called the imperial examination. The main purpose of this examination was to select for able candidates for specific governmental positions. The imperial examination was established by the Sui Dynasty in 605 AD and was later abolished by the Qing Dynasty 1300 years later in 1905. England had adopted this examination system in 1806 to select specific candidates for positions in Her Majesty's Civil Service. This examination system was later applied to education and it started to influence other parts of the world as it became a prominent standard (e.g. regulations to prevent the markers from knowing the identity of candidates), of delivering standardized tests.
Influence of World Wars on Testing
Both World War I and World War II made many people realize the necessity of standardized testing and the benefits associated with these tests. One main reason people saw the benefits was from the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests, which were used during WWI to determine human abilities. Alongside the Army Alpha, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale "added momentum to the testing movement." Soon after, colleges and industry began using tests to help in accepting and hiring people based on performance of the test.
Another reason more tests began to come forth was that people were realizing that the distance between secondary education and higher education was widening after WWII. In 1952, the first Advanced Placement (AP) test was administered to begin closing the gap between high schools and colleges.
Modern day use of tests
Some countries such as the United Kingdom and France require all their secondary school students to take a standardized test on individual subjects such as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) (in England) and Baccalauréat respectively as a requirement for graduation. These tests are used primarily to assess a student's proficiency in specific subjects such as mathematics, science, or literature. In contrasts, high school students in other countries such as the United States may not be required to take a standardized test to graduate. Moreover, students in these countries usually take standardized tests only to apply for a position in a university program and are typically given the option of taking different standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT, which are used primarily to measure a student's reasoning skill. High school students in the United States may also take Advanced Placement tests on specific subjects to fulfill university-level credit. Depending on the policies of the test maker or country, administration of standardized tests may be done in a large hall, classroom, or testing center. A proctor or invigilator may also be present during the testing period to provide instructions, to answer questions, or to prevent cheating.
Grades or test scores from standardized test may also be used by universities to determine if a student applicant should be admitted into one of its academic or professional programs. For example, universities in the United Kingdom admit applicants into their undergraduate programs based primarily or solely on an applicant's grades on pre-university qualifications such as theGCE A-levels or Cambridge Pre-U. In contrast, universities in the United States use an applicant's test score on the SAT or ACT as just one of their many admission criteria to determine if an applicant should be admitted into one of its undergraduate programs. The other criteria in this case may include the applicant's grades from high school, extracurricular activities, personal statement, and letters of recommendations. Once admitted, undergraduate students in the United Kingdom or United States may be required by their respective programs to take acomprehensive examination as a requirement for passing their courses or for graduating from their respective programs.
Standardized tests are sometimes used by certain countries to manage the quality of their educational institutions. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act in the United States requires individual states to develop assessments for students in certain grades. In practice, these assessments typically appear in the form of standardized tests. Test scores of students in specific grades of an educational institution are then used to determine the status of that educational institution, i.e., whether it should be allowed to continue to operate in the same way or to receive funding.
Finally, standardized tests are sometimes used to compare proficiencies of students from different institutions or countries. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) uses Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to evaluate certain skills and knowledge of students from different participating countries.
Licensing and certification
Standardized tests are sometimes used by certain governing bodies to determine if a test taker is allowed to practice a profession, to use a specific job title, or to claim competency in a specific set of skills. For example, a test taker who intends to become a lawyer is usually required by a governing body such a governmental bar licensing agency to pass a bar exam.
Immigration and naturalization
Standardized tests are also used in certain countries to regulate immigration. For example, intended immigrants to Australia are legally required to pass a citizenship test as part of that country's naturalization process.
Main article: Intelligence quotient
Tests are sometimes used as a tool to select for participants that have potential to succeed in a competition such as a sporting event. For example, serious skaters who wish to participate in figure skating competitions in the United States must pass official U.S. Figure Skating tests just to qualify.
Tests are sometimes used by a group to select for certain types of individuals to join the group. For example, Mensa International is a high I.Q. society that requires individuals to score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ test.
Types of tests
Indonesian Students taking a written test
Written tests are tests that are administered on paper or on a computer. A test taker who takes a written test could respond to specific items by writing or typing within a given space of the test or on a separate form or document.
In some tests; where knowledge of many constants or technical terms is required to effectively answer questions, like Chemistry or Biology - the test developer may allow every test taker to bring with them a cheat sheet.
A test developer's choice of which style or format to use when developing a written test is usually arbitrary given that there is no single invariant standard for testing. Be that as it may, certain test styles and format have become more widely used than others. Below is a list of those formats of test items that are widely used by educators and test developers to construct paper or computer-based tests. As a result, these tests may consist of only one type of test item format (e.g., multiple choice test, essay test) or may have a combination of different test item formats (e.g., a test that has multiple choice and essay items).