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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 02-Dec-08

 


Tuesday 02-December-08

Testing times

I've recently done a 'BPS A-B' certification, which qualifies me to administer psychometric tests. It's also interesting with respect to educational testing, a field in which I am currently working.

One of the things that is common to both domains is the amount of work it takes to get a reliable and valid test, from idea to application. There's a huge difference between the 'back of a fag packet' made-up questionnaire that some popular magazines often use, and a test that has been proven. It's the proof that takes much of the work, though there's also lots of effort in design and delivery -- and if you want to get it well-known the communications and promotion can be a bottomless money sink.

Two magic words in building a good test are reliability and validity. A reliable test gives consistent results whenever and wherever it is used. A valid test is fit for purpose, testing what it is supposed to test. Given the variable nature of the human condition, getting these right is often tricky and takes much work.

If you are ever offered a test, and especially if you're asked to pay for it, ask about how reliable and valid it is, and how these were derived. If they show you data and talk about trials, then there's a good chance it's a pukka test. If they woffle and fill your ears with cotton wool, I'd suggest a polite decline.


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