MEASUREMENT RESEARCH ASSOCIATES
TEST INSIGHTS
June 2009
Greetings
 

With computer-based tests, test takers have the ability to go back and review items.  This brief study investigates the relationship between the amount of time spent reviewing items and candidate test performance.

Lidia Martinez
Manager Test Development and Analysis

Time Usage and Candidate Performance
Computer based testing provides the opportunity to track the amount of time candidates spend responding to and reviewing each exam item.  The time usage of a test was studied to understand the relationship between the amount of time a candidate takes to review items and their final score.  For purposes of this study, scores are reported as percent correct without any consideration for calibrated item difficulty or test equating.  The question is the impact of the amount of time used for review on candidate scores.
 
This candidate population took a multiple choice examination and was divided into three groups based on the mean amount of time they used to review items.  Candidates in Group 1 used an average of 5 seconds or less per item to review.  Candidates in Group 2 used an average of 5 - 20 seconds per item to review and candidates in Group 3 used an average of more than 20 seconds per item to review.  These groups were compared by 1) mean time spent initially responding per item; 2) mean time spent reviewing per item; 3) total test percent correct.  All time is given in seconds.  An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical tests.
 
An analysis of variance showed that there was a significant difference in the amount of time used to initially respond to items (p = .039).  A post hoc analysis using Tukey's HSD test revealed that Group 3's average time spent initially responding to items was significantly less than Group 1's average time (p = .030).


Descriptive Statistics for Time Used to Initially Respond to Items

Group based on time used to review

Mean Time per Item

SD

Min

Max

Group 1:

Average Review Time ≤ 5 sec.

57.19

15.33

35.25

84.31

Group 2:

5 sec. < Avg. Rev. Time ≤ 20 sec.

54.39

13.04

31.25

75.33

Group 3:

Average Review Time > 20 sec.

47.68

9.78

30.54

63.43

Total Population

54.22

13.87

30.54

84.31



An ANOVA showed that there was a significant difference in the amount of time used to review items (p < .001).  A post hoc analysis revealed all groups were significantly different from one another (all p values < .001).  Since the groups were divided based on amount of time taken to review, these results are not surprising.
 

Descriptive Statistics for Time Used to Review Items after Initial Response

Group based on time used to review

Mean Time per Item

SD

Min

Max

Group 1:

Average Review Time ≤ 5 sec.

1.25

1.37

.00

4.71

Group 2:

5 sec. < Avg. Rev. Time ≤ 20 sec.

12.05

4.35

5.31

19.76

Group 3:

Average Review Time > 20 sec.

27.45

6.79

20.57

44.26

Total Population

10.55

10.71

.00

44.26



An ANOVA showed that there was no significant difference in percent correct scores based on the amount of time spent reviewing items (p = .335). Based on this study, the amount of time spent reviewing items does not seem to have an effect on candidate test performance.
 
Descriptive Statistics for Candidate Total Percent Correct Scores

Group based on time used to review

Mean % Correct

SD

Min

Max

Group 1:

Average Review Time ≤ 5 sec.

59%

8%

40%

75%

Group 2:

5 sec. < Avg. Rev. Time ≤ 20 sec.

61%

7%

51%

74%

Group 3:

Average Review Time > 20 sec.

61%

8%

47%

74%

Total Population

60%

8%

40%

75%



For this data sample, candidates who spent more time reviewing items, spent less time initially responding to items.  This could be due to the fact that if more time is taken initially to view items, there will be less time remaining after the first view of the exam to review items. While candidates who spent more time reviewing items earned slightly higher percent correct scores, this is not a trend, since there was only a 2% difference in group performance.  The mean percent correct for each group is statistically comparable.

Measurement Research Associates, Inc.
505 North Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1304
Chicago, IL  60611
Phone: (312) 822-9648     Fax: (312) 822-9650


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