What is an assessment / test battery?

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African students exams

A test battery or assessment battery is a set multiple psychometrically-distinct exams delivered in one administration.  In some cases, these are various tests that are cobbled together for related purposes, such as a psychologist testing a 8 year old child on their intelligence, anxiety, and autism spectrum.  However, in many cases it is a single test title that we often refer to as a single test but is actually several separate tests, like a university admissions test that has English, Math, and Logical Reasoning components.  Why do so? The key here is that we want to keep them psychometrically separate, but maximize the amount of information about the person to meet the purposes of the test.

Examples of a Test Battery

Test batteries are used in a variety of fields, pretty much anywhere assessment is done.

Admissions and Placement Testing

The classic example is a university admissions test that has English, Math, and Logic portions.  These are separate tests, and psychometricians would calculate the reliability and other important statistics separately.  However, the scores are combined at the end to get an overall picture of examinee aptitude or achievement, and use that to maximally predict 4-graduation rates and other important criterion variables.

Why is is called a battery?  Because we are battering the poor student with not just one, but many exams!

Pre-Employment Testing

Exam batteries are often used in pre-employment testing.  You might get tested on computer skills, numerical reasoning, and noncognitive traits such as integrity or conscientiousness. These are used together to gain incremental validity.  A good example is the CAT-ASVAB, which is the selection test to get into the US Armed Forces.  There are 10 tests (vocabulary, math, mechanical aptitude…).

Psychological or Psychoeducational Assessment

In a clinical setting, clinicians will often use a battery of tests, such as IQ, autism, anxiety, and depression.  Some IQ tests themselves as a battery, as they might assess visual reasoning, logical reasoning, numerical reasoning, etc.  However, these have a positive manifold, meaning that they correlate quite highly with each other.  Another example is the Woodcock-Johnson.

K-12 Educational Assessment

Many large-scale tests that are used in schools are considered a battery, though often with only 2 or 3 aspects.  A common one in the USA is the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress.

Composite Scores

A composite score is a combination of scores in a battery.  If you took an admissions test like the SAT and GRE, you recall how it would add your scores on the different subtests, while the ACT test takes the average.  The ASVAB takes a linear combination of the 4 most important subtests and uses them for admission; the others are used for job matching.

A Different Animal: Test with Sections

The battery is different than a single test that has distinct sections.  For example, a K12 English test might have 10 vocab items, 10 sentence-completion grammar items, and 2 essays.  Such tests are usually analyzed as a single test, as they are psychometrically unidimensional.

How to Deliver A Test Battery

In ASC’s platforms, Assess.ai and FastTest, all this functionality is available out of the box: test batteries, composite scores, and sections within a test.  Moreover, they come with a lot of important functionality, such as separation of time limits, navigation controls, customizable score reporting, and more.  Click here to request a free account and start applying best practices.

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Nathan Thompson, PhD

Nathan Thompson earned his PhD in Psychometrics from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on computerized adaptive testing. His undergraduate degree was from Luther College with a triple major of Mathematics, Psychology, and Latin. He is primarily interested in the use of AI and software automation to augment and replace the work done by psychometricians, which has provided extensive experience in software design and programming. Dr. Thompson has published over 100 journal articles and conference presentations, but his favorite remains https://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=16&n=1.

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