How to create custom skills assessment tests

Our website includes a range of standard tests, but you can add your own.  This page shows you how to do this!

You can create custom tests at any time and without charge, but there is a limit to how many times you can assign them to candidates before you will have to sign up for our premium service.

What do I need to create tests?

In order to be able to create a good skills assessment test, you will need the following:

Requirement Notes
Knowledge of your subject To be able to set a good test you need (obviously) to have an excellent knowledge of your subject.
Time A good skills assessment test takes a fair while to create.  You will probably be able to create about 20 questions per day (we can do up to 50 per day, but this is only after many years of experience).
Screen-capture software We use SnagIt to capture our screen images, which at the time of writing costs about £50 to buy.  Windows includes a free snipping tool (hold down the Windows key and press SHIFT + S to access it) which may be enough for most people.
Imagination The fun in writing a good question is thinking up plausible wrong answers!

Anatomy of a question

Any question must contain the following parts, none of which can be omitted:

Bit of question Notes
Preamble Some introductory text
A picture A descriptive image
Final text The end of the question
Answers One correct and three wrong answers

Let's take an example from our Basic Computing Skills test.  Suppose that you want to test whether someone understands what records and fields are.  The first thing to do is to create a diagram which illustrates this with some introductory and following text:

Picture and text

Our experience is that you can use a diagram to illustrate any question!

You can now type in the correct answer:

Correct answer

Usually the correct answer is the easy thing to create, since you know what to type!

Now comes the more difficult part: thinking up 3 wrong answers, which sound completely plausible but which anyone who knows about the subject will instantly know only exist in the imagination of the questioner.  For this example, we chose:

Three wrong answers

It takes quite a bit of concentration to think of answers which could well be correct. You can judge from these answers how well we did on this occasion.

Anatomy of a test

Our tests usually have between 100 and 150 questions, out of which 20 are included in each test (see below for more on the algorithm which decides which questions to include).

Note that it's up to you what level of redundancy you create (the risk is that if you have a test with no spare questions a candidate could easily learn all of the answers).

Questions are organised into one or more topics (as set by you), and up to 3 levels:

Basic computing topics

For our basic computing test we split the questions into these 4 topics.

A good test will have an equal balance between introductory, intermediate and advanced questions for each topic.  When someone starts a test the website will assign questions proportionally to the number available for a topic (so on average for the above example for every 21 Hardware questions set there will be 36 Windows ones).

Creating a test

To create a test, first log on to your account then choose to look at your tailored exams:

Tailored exams

Click on this menu option to view existing custom tests and create new ones.

 

The website will list all of the custom tests that you've created, then give you a chance to create a new one:

Adding a custom test

Click on this button to create a new custom test.

You can now create your new test:

Creating a test

You can give your test a name, choose how many questions it involves, decide how many minutes candidates will be given to complete it and choose a status.

You should initially denote your test as Pending or withdrawn, to reduce the risk that you accidentally assign an incomplete test to a candidate.  The last stage of the creation process will be to change this status to Current to publish your test. 

Creating topics for your test

You can now create topics for your test:

Creating topics

You will see the (initially slightly depressing!) statistics about how many questions you've set. You should start by clicking on the Questions tab to create topics for your test.

To add each topic, click on this button:

Adding a topic

Click on this button to add a topic for your test.

Give each topic that you create a name and an (integer) sort order:

Creating a topic

The sort order can be any positive integer.

When you've finished you'll see a list of topics that you've created listed by ascending sort order number:

Topics created

Here we've created two topics for our test.

You can add additional topics at any time, and reassign questions to different topics, but your life will be easier if you get the list of topics right at the start.

Starting a new question

To add a question, click on this button:

Adding a question

Click on this button to create a question.

Let's say you want to write a question about the I'm feeling lucky button in Google.  The first thing to do is to assign a name, level and topic to your question:

Naming your question

The name is purely for your internal use: no one else will ever see this. If you subsequently change your mind you can change all of these details later.

The level should be set proportional to the difficulty of the subject (so an advanced level question on a test called Creating your first Excel spreadsheet is likely to be much easier than an introductory level question on Designing Python Classes, for example).

You should now click on the SAVE THIS NEW QUESTION button to bring up the main question form.

Uploading a picture

A good place to start with a question is to assign a picture to it:

Creating a picture

You can click on the Choose File button to pick a picture, then the UPLOAD button to add it your question.

Here's a picture you could use for our question:

Picture question

The question is going to refer to this button, so it makes sense to have a picture containing it.

You need to capture this as a picture on your computer.

The website will prevent you from adding large pictures, to stop our server seizing up: you'll be told what the limits are if your picture is too big.

When you click on the Choose File button, you can select your picture:

Choosing a picture

You can give your pictures more meaningful names, but there's no need to as each image is converted into binary before being stored in our database.

 

You now need to upload your picture (this clunky two-stage approach is a reflection of the way image upload works in HTML, not of our website!):

Uploading an image

Click on this button to upload the listed file.

You can now fill n the rest of the question:

The picture added

If you change your mind about a picture, just click on the CHANGE PICTURE button to change it.

Filling in the rest of your question

You can now complete your question, starting with the initial text:

Initial text

A convention is to use CAPITAL LETTERS to refer to buttons in your picture.

Finally, you can answer your own question in four different ways (one of them correct):

Four possible answers

A suggestion for the 4 answers for this question.

Don't worry about the order of your wrong answers: the site will randomly allocate letters A, B, C and D for each new test taken, to ensure that there is no pattern to the order of the questions that a candidate could pick up on.

Finally, you can save this question:

Saving a question

Click on this button to save this question.

You will see the questions listed for your current level and topic:

List of questions

You can click on a column heading to sort by that column.

Publishing your test

When you've created a balanced test it's time to make it visible to the world (or at least, to those people to whom you assign the test).

As the warning at the start of this pages says, you will only be able to allocate a few tests to candidates for free; after this you'll have to create a premium account.

To publish your custom test, change its status:

Change test status

Click on the Test details tab and set your test to Current.

Assigning your new test

You can now assign your test to candidates (note that no one else can ever see, take or assign your custom test):

Assigning a custom test

You can see your new test in the My custom tests dropdown.

You should avoid assigning your test to external candidates until you're happy with all of its questions.  If you change a question after some of your candidates have taken your test it may invalidate the comparison of scores between them, since you won't be comparing like with like.

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