The Online Assessments Playbook - Taking Aptitude Tests Online

Aptitude tests were first used in recruitment for the US Army during the first World War. Developed by psychologist Carl Brigham, aptitude tests are designed to assess an individual’s potential to develop. 

2018-09-05

In the following article, we will take a deep dive into how aptitude tests can help you and how you can use these tests effectively.

  • What are aptitude tests?
  • Why are they important?
  • Aptitude tests in 2018
  • Advantages of online assessments
  • General apprehensions about online tests
  • Doing online assessments right
  • Best Practices
  • Next steps

What are aptitude tests?

As the name itself suggests, the test is designed to evaluate an individual’s aptitude.

Aptitude is defined as “ an acquired or natural ability (usually measurable with aptitude tests), for learning and proficiency in a specific area or discipline. Aptitude is expressed in interest and is reflected in current performance which is expected to improve over time with training”.

Aptitude assessments are created and conducted to measure an individual’s potential to perform and are used almost everywhere - from college admissions to pre-employment evaluation.

These tests can be administered in different ways to evaluate a multitude of competencies. Some of the most common types of aptitude tests include -

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative aptitude
  • Numeric reasoning
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Mechanical reasoning
  • Data interpretation and checking
  • Work sampling, and more

Why are Aptitude Tests important?

Tests need to be effective in assessing an individual’s competency, whatever skills and proficiencies they are employed to assess.

Accurate in predicting performance

Studies have shown that while technical ability and knowledge are essential to evaluating a student’s proficiency or a job applicant’s capability to perform, aptitude tests measure an individual’s inherent ability to learn, comprehend and perform, regardless of their domain of knowledge.

A level playing field

Standardized aptitude tests give everyone an equal chance for success without having a cultural or socio-economic bias by testing their cognitive abilities.

Efficient Screening of Large Numbers of Candidates  

Aptitude Tests are a great way to a large number of screen candidates. Whether it is for college admissions or for recruiting, aptitude tests help filter in the right talent.

Eliminate Subjective Bias Objective Comparisons

Aptitude tests provide objective and efficient comparisons of competencies between a set of individuals. Interview results are always prone to subjective biases. Aptitude tests help eliminate that bias.

Help Build Pertinent Training Programs

Aptitude tests can help assess the strengths and areas for improvement in individuals. Such data can help organizations and schools design effective training programs.

Cost-effective

These tests can be conducted on computers. The grading and evaluation of the scores require no manual intervention scores can be graded and evaluated

Aptitude assessments in 2018

With technology transforming today’s marketplace, aptitude assessments have been quick to adapt. Computer-Based Tests are now quite a common method of testing across the world. These tests are more flexible and portable compared to the traditional pen-and-paper method of testing. Not only are they a more efficient way of conducting tests, they are also more transparent than traditional assessments.

But they do require test takers to attend tests from specific venues where the examination or the assessment is proctored. This set up comes with costs of the venue, proctor, logistics and more.

Enter, online assessments

Online assessments give test takers the freedom to attend tests from their own devices, wherever they want, whenever they want.

Advantages of Online Assessments

Migrating assessments online can seem like a challenging task, but its benefits will make it worth it.

assessments

Save Your Time and Your Candidate’s Time

Online assessments not only save the candidate’s time traveling to a test center but also makes the process of content authoring, delivery, evaluation and grading quick and simple.

Significant Cost Savings

A test taker can attend an online assessment from their own device, anywhere they are comfortable. This helps them save cost on travelling to the test location.

The test administrator also saves the cost involved with the venue, hiring an invigilator(or a proctor), logistics, etc.

Question Randomization

Assessment items in online tests can easily be randomized to ensure no 2 assessments have questions repeated in the same order.

Transparency and Security
Automating the process of content authoring, delivery, evaluation, and grading ensures complete transparency is maintained.

Flexibility

Online examinations give you the freedom to administer different kinds of tests in a single assessment - code test, multiple choice questions, essay questions, case studies, simulations, and more.

Real-time analysis

Online assessments allow for real-time statistical analysis. The level of difficulty, total time, verbiage, type of questions, etc can be refined based on the trends in student performance.  

General apprehensions about online tests

Traditional paper tests and computer-based tests have an exam supervisor present on location. Online tests don't.

So how can companies and universities catch the impersonators?

With information available at our fingertips, how can organizations know candidates aren’t copy-pasting off the internet?

Remote proctoring technologies are now so powerful that they can catch the cheaters red-handed!

There are several techniques of proctoring online assessments -

  • High-stakes online proctoring
    This method of remote proctoring like the online version of a computer-based test. There is a proctor who is viewing the test as it happens and can block the candidate in case they find that the candidate is engaging in some suspicious activity
  • Recorded proctoring
    The video of the candidates and their screens are recorded for review at a later stage. Several assessments can be simultaneously recorded this way, but this method still requires human intervention to go through the video logs and authenticate the assessments.  
  • Cognitive remote proctoring
    This method of advanced proctoring relies on AI to ensure fraudulent activities are automatically flagged and the candidates are warned and blocked from the test if need be. This kind of automated proctoring is accurate and especially useful in reducing manual intervention for large volumes of candidates

How you can do it right

Conducting aptitude assessments online is a new and emerging field that is changing the way students are screened in college admission tests and employees are being hired. But there are a few checks you can have in place to ensure your online aptitude assessment scores are credible.

  • Find the right content for your aptitude test
    Aptitude tests measure the potential of a student or a job applicant. Questions and answer choices must be designed to test the way the test taker’s mind works rather than just their knowledge in a particular domain.

Aptitude tests by Talview Talent Assessments are designed and peer-reviewed by industry experts to ensure the assessment content items test the decision-making and reasoning abilities of the test-takers.

  • Get your hands on the right assessment platform
    • Flexible, configurable platform
      Aptitude tests are evolving by the minute and the assessment platform you use should be flexible enough to allow different kinds of questions - multiple choice objective questions, subjective questions, textual case studies, images, videos, etc.
    • Flag browser switches
      With powerful search engines at our disposal, knowledge is available at the click of a button. Assessment platforms must be able to tag and block browser switches so candidates don’t get their answers from the internet.
    • Block redhandedcopy-paste option
      The platform should also be smart enough to block copy-paste options to ensure candidates don't simply paste the answers.
    • Question randomisation
      Since remote assessments can be taken at any time, it is important to ensure questions don’t repeat themselves. Assessment platforms should have powerful question and options and randomization capabilities so that no 2 candidates get the same set of questions.  
  • Your proctoring engine can make or break your assessments
    We’ve already established the importance of remote proctoring in online assessments. Mentioned below are some of the features your proctoring mechanism must have to ensure your online aptitude test scores are valid and credible.
    • Pre-flight checks
      Authenticate candidate credentials with the help of face and voice recognition capabilities. This alerts the recruiter in case an impersonator is attending the test instead of the candidate
    • Object recognition
      The proctor must be able to recognize any foreign objects on the screen.
      In case the candidate pulls out a book, for example, the proctor must be able to flag it and warn the candidate.
    • Voice detection
      There can be scenarios when there is another person behind the screen, helping the candidate with questions. The proctor must be able to detect the presence of another voice, warn the candidate and send a report to the recruiter.
    • Tracking eyeball movements
      The proctor should be capable of detecting suspicious eyeball movements of the candidate and flag them. This is especially useful in cases when the external material is placed behind the screen.
    • Geotagging
      Geotagging collects a candidate’s geospatial metadata to ensure the right candidate is attending the test from the right place. Flag

Who all are doing it now

Assessment industry giants like Pearson are taking their assessments online.

Here’s what Shahir Shetty, from Pearson TalentLens, has to say about his experience with online assessments and cognitive proctoring

Best practices

Assessment content

  • Select an intuitive and easy to configure content management system
  • Multiple choice questions must have plausible wrong answer options so as not to make the right answer obvious to the test taker
  • Make use of a variety of question formats - multiple choice, fill-in, short answers, etc
  • Design the questions must be such that answers cannot be easily found online or in a textbook

Test Delivery

  • Take security measures like issuing a password or a personalized access link for test-takers to attend the test
  • Ensure instructions on how to attend and navigate the test are clear.
  • If possible, have a practice test so the test taker is comfortable with the platform
  • In case a student or job applicant is caught cheating, warn them once and then block them
  • Disable right-click option in the test window to ensure candidates don’t have the option of copy-pasting or printing the questions
  • Deliver one question at a time
  • Make the online aptitude test available for a limited amount of time
  • Set a maximum time limit for each question and each section of the test
  • Have count-down timer clearly visible on the screen
  • Have an auto-submit option to automatically complete the test when the time limit is reached
  • Don’t release test scores or analysis until the end test window

Administering the Assessment

  • Select a powerful proctoring engine to validate the aptitude test
  • Display the contact details of the technical support team, should the students or job applicants face technical difficulties during the test
  • Check the technical readiness of the platform in different devices well in advance

Online aptitude assessments - the next steps

Automating online tests can help accelerate your process - be it university admissions, or hiring or employee development programs. Combining skills and aptitude assessments with behavioral and personality competencies by analyzing the emotional and tone of the test-takers can help generate a complete and holistic picture of a candidate’s capabilities, potential and behavioral tendencies.

Up Next - 

Webinar on Re-Imagining the Way We Hire - AI Leads the Way
Join Matt Pietsch and Tom Darrow as they discuss the innovations transforming the arena of recruitment and how you can leverage AI  to streamline your recruitment process. 
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