Criteria assessments and mitigating practice effects

Updated by Deb Peacock

Practice effects occur when a person gets higher scores on a test because they’ve had the opportunity to complete the test multiple times and in some cases, may get better at it on each occasion. Practice effects can be an issue for all ability-based tests, such as tests of cognitive aptitude, emotional intelligence and skills assessments. 

 Criteria, along with other reputable providers of tests, takes a number of steps to limit the impact of practice on test results and ensure that test users can compare candidates against one another without needing to consider whether the candidate might have completed the test, or a similar test, in the past.  

Steps we take include:

  • We provide all candidates with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the test, or with similar tests, before they take it as part of a job application. This reduces practice effects because it ensures that all test-takers have a degree of familiarity with the test and the types of questions in the test, regardless of whether they have completed the test as part of a job application in the past. 
  • We use item banks, so that a person who has completed one of our tests in the past will get a different selection of items if they do the test the second time. This ensures that candidates don’t perform better simply because they have seen the test questions before. 
  • We allow organizations to automatically reuse test results within a time period they set, so if a candidate has previously applied the organization they don’t need to sit the test again: their previously result is automatically copied to the new application. 

How did we do?