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How Does Computerized Adaptive Testing Work?


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Do you think the current examination system isn’t strong enough to test the student’s abilities in the way it actually should? Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) can be a solution. 

CAT is a method of testing where the difficulty of each question changes depending on the previous responses of the examinee. 

With this test type, you can expect accurate results. Besides, it requires less time and can be tailored to the individual needs of each student. 

What is Computerized Adaptive Testing CAT? 

Computerized Adaptive Testing is a mode of examining test takers’ abilities based on their responses to the previous questions. Such tests ensure that each consequent question analyzes the student’s skill level in the best possible way. Because of its adaptive features, it is known as tailored testing. 

Adaptive Tests vs Traditional Tests: How Do They Differ? 

The adaptive testing technique is different from traditional testing in many ways. While conventional testing analyzes the group of individuals on the same group of questions, adaptive testing can change the questions for every individual depending upon the correctness of a particular answer. 

Apart from the general changes in the question, the Computerized Adaptive Tests measure the students on the learning level where they are instead of evaluating the entire group based on the average learning expectations. 

Also, the tailored tests can help analyze individual performance over time, which isn’t possible through the traditional testing process. 

What are The Advantages of Computerized Adaptive Testing? 

Below are the main benefits of the Computerized Adaptive Testing CAT technique:

Shorter Tests

When using a CAT, the time the examinee spends attempting the test is relatively less. So, factors like fatigue that might impact the test results are minimized. Besides, the shorter tests are less tiring for the test takers, so that they can take them with considerable ease. 


In adaptive testing, the computer requires many questions to match the test takers’ abilities. With better targeting, you can measure a student’s ability in the best possible way; thus, the results are accurate. So, you can rely on them to make better learning strategies in the future.  

Increased Efficiency

As the CAT requires a limited number of questions to analyze the ability, the saved time can be easily used in teaching and learning activities. Also, the results are available as soon as the test is complete, requiring no extra work by the teachers. Thus, it improves the efficiency of both the teachers and the students. 

Test Security

A standard testing procedure has the chance of data leakage where a group of students can share the answers to the questions with each other during the assessment. There are limited opportunities to take care of such problems. But when opting for CAT, there’s a minimal chance that the two students could be at the same level. So, the test’s security is ensured. 


You can use CAT to measure an individual’s ability depending on their learning level. Intelligent students can outperform their fellows in traditional testing, limiting their chances of growth and further learning. So, using such a test measure can provide a better idea of the individual level and keep the students motivated to study more.

Presents a Fair Overview

Using the CAT as an assessment technique can give you a fairer view. Two different students might have encountered the same number of questions. They might even have answered the same questions correctly, but the overall score could still be different. 

This is because the Computerized Adaptive Testing CAT measures the ability level depending on the difficulty of the question instead of the number of questions. Thus, it seems a fairer approach for the evaluation purpose.

How does Computer Adaptive Testing Work? 

Computer Adaptive Testing works based on the following principles:

With each question answered by the examinee, the computer analyzes the ability depending on the answer and difficult questions (it takes account of all the questions answered during the test every time).

The system calculates the probability of getting the correct response to give the next question. The question which has at least a 50% chance of being correct is given to the student. It ensures that every next question is not too difficult. But it must be challenging enough to test the student’s ability. 

Answering every next question, the computer repeats the entire process, making the estimate about the test taker’s ability more accurate.

What are the Principles of Computerized Adaptive Testing? 

The fail and pass principles are decided based on Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). You might encounter multiple scenarios, so understanding these principles is essential.

If the examinee has not attempted the minimum number of questions before the time runs out, they fail the exam. 

The final ability is measured if the examinee finishes the test on time. Students with final test scores above the set average pass the test, whereas the students not meeting the average set standards in the final ability fail the test. 

Why Choose Computerized Adaptive Testing?

Adopting the CAT technique in your institute can allow you to:

Get better insight into a student’s ability – Finding students’ aptitude is easier with CAT. You can help them grow in the direction of their interests

Devise a comprehensive learning strategy – By understanding the different abilities of your students, you can create a holistic learning strategy

Create regular plans for individual improvement – As you can get students’ performance over time, you create standard study plans for focusing on students who need your most attention. 

Summing Up

Computerized Adaptive Testing is an improvised technique to assess students’ abilities in the most precise and comprehensive manner. Choosing it as an examination technique can lower the time required in conducting the tests and helps in getting a fair view of the student’s abilities. 

Also, its personalized nature can ensure that every student is given a fair chance to demonstrate their ability. Thus, you can use it to provide better education quality.

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