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Assessment Length: What We're Finding
April 11, 2013 8:00:00 PM EDT   By Shoa Appelman

Assessment developers are always struggling with length, and rightfully so. Most assessments are too long. As developers of job simulations, we're especially sensitive to test-taker time because candidate engagement is one of our core values. Two of the questions related to test length that we ask workshop testers are: 1) How long did you feel it took you to complete the test? We consistently found that virtual role play testers underestimated their time spent on the simulation by 15-20 minutes. For example, for one observed test-session that actually took 45 minutes to complete, the test taker perceived it as "half hour - a little less." So the role play felt shorter than it was. 2) Did you feel like that was worth the time? The most popular response we receive to this question is "Yes." Several testers explained that because the simulation was clearly job-related, it was worthwhile. They recognized that the simulation reflected on-the-job tasks, so if they didn't feel the tasks were worthwhile in the tests, then the job role wouldn't be a good fit either. We also receive feedback along the veins of, "It was hard, but that was fun." Because candidates are focused on the challenge of the task, they don't have time to focus on the passage of time or get the sense their time is being wasted. Research shows that busy employees report higher job satisfaction, and similarly, a challenging job-related task seems to make the assessment more enjoyable, contributing to a decrease in test-taker perception of actual test length.
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