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MICROCAT: What was assessment like in the 1980s?

old computer

ASC has been empowering organizations to develop better assessments since 1979.  Curious as to how things were back then?  Below is a copy of our newsletter from 1988, long before the days of sharing news via email and social media!  Our platform at the time was named MICROCAT.  This later became modernized to FastTest PC (Windows), then FastTest Web, and is now being reincarnated yet again as

Special thanks to Cliff Donath for finding and sharing!



Some other references to MICROCAT


Conducting Self-Adapted Testing Using Microcat

Linda L. Roos, Steven L. Wise, Michael E. Yoes, Thomas R. Rocklin

October 1996, Educational and Psychological Measurement 56(5):821-827)


Adapting Adaptive Testing: Using the MicroCAT Testing System in a Local School District

G Gage Kingsbury

Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice Volume 9, Number 2, 1990 


User’s Manual for the MicroCAT (Trademark) Testing System.

Technical rept. 1 Sep 83-30 Jun 85.


MicroCAT Testing System Version 3.0 by Assessment Systems Corporation

Review by: Wayne Patience

Journal of Educational Measurement, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 82-88 (7 pages)

Nathan Thompson, PhD

Nathan Thompson, PhD, is CEO and Co-Founder of Assessment Systems Corporation (ASC). He is a psychometrician, software developer, author, and researcher, and evangelist for AI and automation. His mission is to elevate the profession of psychometrics by using software to automate psychometric work like item review, job analysis, and Angoff studies, so we can focus on more innovative work. His core goal is to improve assessment throughout the world.

Nate was originally trained as a psychometrician, with an honors degree at Luther College with a triple major of Math/Psych/Latin, and then a PhD in Psychometrics at the University of Minnesota. He then worked multiple roles in the testing industry, including item writer, test development manager, essay test marker, consulting psychometrician, software developer, project manager, and business leader. He is also cofounder and Membership Director at the International Association for Computerized Adaptive Testing ( He’s published 100+ papers and presentations, but his favorite remains

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