Adaptive testing: an introduction

By Yaw Bimpeh, David West


A computer adaptive test (CAT) is an assessment administered on a computer that matches the difficulty level of each question or item to the ability level of the candidate. CATs have potential benefits over conventional fixed-form assessment, whether delivered via pen and paper or in an on-screen format.

In future, it is anticipated that more large-scale educational assessments may be delivered using CATs, potentially including GCSEs and A-levels. However, there are still complexities and challenges involved in significantly increasing the use of CATs in the English education system.

This briefing provides an overview of adaptive assessment: what it is, how it works, what types of question it is suited to and what are some of the benefits and challenges associated with it.


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