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Computer-tailored tests: they fit better than handmade ones

Tests given by computers measure a person's ability as accurately as paper and pencil tests, do it in less time, and create less test anxiety, according to a four-year study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia.

In tailored testing a computer program statistically selects, from the computer's storage, the items a test taker receives. Beginning with the first question, which usually is of average difficulty, the computer goes through a cycle of selecting, administering, and scoring as each item is answered.

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When an answer is correct, the next item selected is more difficult. When incorrect, the next item selected is easier.

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