As many professions come under greater scrutiny and with increased regulatory expectations, professionals in fields such as financial or professional services must routinely demonstrate their understanding of new policies and standards. With talent shortages a common problem, organizations all around the world are continually looking at ways to support, develop, and promote their subject matter experts. Academic consortiums (such as groups of universities within a particular geography) require assessment of students’ capabilities for their degree programs at scale. Using event-based testing to deliver exams remains one of the most effective ways to meet these needs.
With on-demand exam delivery, a candidate can schedule and take an exam at any time. Conversely, with event-based testing, an exam is made available to candidates for a defined period of time. This could be a single session, a single day with multiple sessions, multiple days, a week, or two weeks, etc. Compared to other delivery modes, this mode of assessment offers assessment owners different benefits and limitations.
Based on our decades of experience, we suggest considering the following questions to decide if event-based testing is right for you.
1. Is event-based testing appropriate for your exam format?
Exams vary in subject matter and scope, but also in the type of content used. Item types, frequency, length, and types of modalities may be very different — even for exam owners within the same industry.
Exam owners may opt for event-based exam delivery because they lack sufficient exam content to transition to a more frequent delivery model. For example, they might be launching a new certification/assessment for the first time to keep pace with shifts in industry focus. Or it might be because that particular organizsation has to publish its exam (after delivery) to meet any regulatory or compliance commitments. The exam owner might be in a highly specialized field, with very complex item types, or it might even be down to the composition of their exam content. For example, if the exam has items that require human marking, this might require delivery of the assessment during a dedicated event window. The required marking of individually constructed responses can then be completed once exam delivery is complete.
2. Is event-based testing right for the specific needs of your exam program?
Many exam owners use an event-based delivery model to release a new exam and gain valuable data on the performance of the individual exam items contained within it.
Consider how you could use such insights to improve your exam for future test-takers and drive greater efficiencies in the longer term. Some of the other benefits of event-based testing include:
- providing short-term, large-scale capacity for assessments
- improving accessibility/geographic coverage
- adding on-site testing capability at relevant industry events
Offering a consistent look and feel across event-based test centers can be challenging. Due to the temporary nature of these test centers, committing to specific timeframes/dates for testing and ensuring the required capacity must be managed very carefully.
3. Have you considered the preparation required before your exam delivery?
As an exam owner, you may be scaling up delivery for the first time. A scalable event-delivery service that allows test centers to increase seats to offer increased testing volume for your event is key to the preparation phase. Working with a partner that specializes in event delivery preparation and understands the specific needs of your vertical sector is essential.
Your exam-delivery provider should work with you to understand the following:
- the objectives of your testing event
- your required registration and scheduling processes
- the specific needs of your candidates (such as those with accommodations)
- how to prepare candidates effectively before the exam
- what type of security measures are required to verify your candidates
The registration and scheduling phase might be the most important part of your preparation. Candidates need to feel sufficiently supported and test centers should be allocated based on factors like access to transport hubs and the size and location of your candidate population. Think carefully about where you want to hold your testing event and make sure you’re collaborating with the right stakeholders, in the run up to your event registration.
Have you put contingency plans in place if there are any issues? What if something happens to a candidate (they’re stuck in traffic or their train is delayed) or a test center on the day of your event? This could limit the ability for that candidate to take the exam again. In some cases, and with the policies of some organizations, this could be up to a year or when the next exam event window is open. Consider having a contingency day for any candidates impacted by these types of scenarios.
4. What kind of event-based solution is right for your exam program
If an exam owner has a very large volume of candidates or wants to offer exam delivery at a conference, event-based delivery might be the best option. Some examples of event-based exam solutions include:
- Test center in a box
- exam equipment sent to requested location
- can be proctored by test provider staff, test owner, or a third party
- Conference testing
- Traveling event coordinators
- Mobile test center (on a bus/coach)
- Super-centers (for testing a large number of candidates)
- One-day to multi-year event-based test centers
There are well-developed processes for each of these different approaches to event-based testing. Ensure you have the right support on hand to navigate any areas you may be unfamiliar with, such as the use of technology applications you might not typically use day-to-day.
5. What happens after your testing event?
As with any type of high-stakes exam delivery, it’s important to evaluate what worked well and where things might not have run as smoothly as they could have. Establishing temporary event venues (sometimes very large ones) comes with increased resources. Carefully consider how you will establish, set up, and collapse testing at the end of your event. Post-event is a crucial phase to evaluate what worked well and which processes may need fine-tuning for future exam deliveries.
Testing needs vary and event-based testing requires collaborative expertise and routine review to meet the ever-changing needs of candidates. Having the right toolkit in place can help you to support test-takers as they look to explore new opportunities for personal as well as professional growth.
Adrian Evans, VP Global Channel Operations, Pearson VUE