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Computerized adaptive test item response times for correct and incorrect pretest and operational items: Testing fairness and test -taking strategies

Shu-Ren Chang, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examined the amount of time spent on pretest and operational items that are answered correctly and incorrectly by different ability examinees when taking a computerized adaptive test (CAT). Consistent with other research, the results indicate that higher ability examinees spend more time than lower ability examinees on all items, regardless of whether the items are tailored to their ability level (operational items) or not (pretest items). It was expected, based on the literature, that examinees would spend more time on test questions they answered incorrectly than correctly. This was the case for most of the items, but not the ones near the end of the CAT, suggesting that examinees may not have sufficient time or motivation to devote to these items. Seven testing fairness issues related to a CAT were addressed along with recommendations. Five test-taking strategies derived from the results were provided to help ensure testing fairness. The presence of pretesting was found either to benefit or hinder examinees depending on their ability levels due to disproportionate amounts of time and effort used by these examinees with different ability levels on these items. Generally, examinees with lower ability levels have more time remaining after they finish the test than do examinees with higher ability levels. A design feature for a CAT that uses a time management wizard, time reminder, and pacing guidance to help examines to move through a test was proposed for future development. Finally, several recommendations to ensure testing fairness were provided for the future examiners’ manual.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Psychological tests|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Chang, Shu-Ren, "Computerized adaptive test item response times for correct and incorrect pretest and operational items: Testing fairness and test -taking strategies" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3239362.