Internet-based testing (IBT) is now common in our industry, but it can at first be intimidating to candidates and time-intensive to organizations making the change from paper-based testing. This section describes Internet-based testing in more detail, explains its advantages, and provides suggestions and techniques for making a smooth transition.
Communicating the Transition
One of the most important steps in successfully moving from paper-and-pencil to Internet-based examinations is a communications plan to explain the benefits and limitations to candidates and other stakeholders. Different media, to best reach each audience, should be used; consider published handbooks and study guides, conferences, websites, press releases, fact sheets, white papers, newsletters, and journals.
“One of the most important steps in successfully moving from paper-and-pencil to Internet-based examinations is a communications plan to explain the benefits and limitations to candidates and other stakeholders. “
The Effect on the Organization
A change to Internet-based testing has an impact on all departments within an organization, not just on the test delivery team.
Consider, for example, what happens when an organization moves from four scheduled paper-based administrations per year to on-demand Internet-based testing: application processing and eligibility review is spread throughout the year, rather than in four short windows, fees are collected throughout the year, and score reports may be mailed weekly.
In addition, new policies and procedures about applications must be communicated to candidates, which means that handbooks and study guides must be revised. Additional customer service staff might be necessary to answer candidate questions. And to avoid examination exposure, an organization might need additional item development activities to support on-demand testing; this, in turn, could involve additional committee meetings and the costs associated with them.
The Effect on the Candidates
Candidates require complete and accurate information on new policies, procedures, and fees associated with Internet-based testing. Published handbooks and study guides should outline new testing schedules, including a description of the Internet-based delivery system, transition timelines, and updated fees.
One good way to introduce candidates to the new testing environment is to make a practice test available, delivered by the same testing engine as the examination. Because the practice test mimics the test-day experience, it helps to relieve anxiety.
The Effect on Regulatory Agencies
If the examination is used for licensing or regulation, the organization needs to communicate the new policies, procedures, and fees to the appropriate agencies. In addition, the agencies might need to revise their own operating procedures to support the change.
The Effect on Others
Training and education providers, especially those approved by the organization, need information on the new Internet-based testing policies and procedures so that they, in turn, can communicate to candidates.
These providers, as well as the general public, should have access to the published handbooks and study guides that support the program.