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The role and value of scenario-based assessments

26 Apr 2024

Assessing candidates in a way that’s both valid and reliable is always a challenge and never more so than when it comes to practical or high-stakes skills.

scenario-based assessments

The general best-practice advice for assessing skills validly is that the closer you can bring the test situation to the performance environment, the more likely it is that the test will accurately measure performance in that environment. So, while it’s possible to test skills with multiple choice questions and similar, it’s generally considered more authentic and effective to do so with other, more life-like question types. 

With that in mind, the demand for assessments that better mirror the real world is huge, especially for high-stakes situations. 

So, what are your options?

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What assessments are good for measuring on-the-job performance? 

Some assessment styles like performance-based testing for IT professionals are specific to certain industries, in this case, mimicking the kinds of lab environments an individual working in the IT industry will frequently work with. Others, like observational assessments, have a much wider use case from construction site health and safety assessments to pharmaceutical rep exams

These assessments are just some of the methods available for measuring on-the-job skills, but they’re by no means the only routes to validating and verifying competency. 

The case for case-based assessing

Assessments for the utilities industry

Case-based or scenario-based assessments are used across multiple industries due to their prowess in accurately measuring test-takers in a real-world context.

They often consist of simulated situations, be that a patient case study for assessing nursing students or a disaster response scenario for rig workers. The format tends to be one in which a test-taker is presented with an in-depth situation and then asked multiple questions surrounding that scenario, typically requiring them to apply knowledge as they would in real life rather than simply recall knowledge. 

The key benefits of scenario-based assessments

  • They are closer to the performance environment and so are more likely to measure job competence 
  • They provide invaluable data to help organizations make more valid decisions
  • People are more likely to trust the results of an assessment where questions are closer to the performance environment. This is useful for higher-stakes exams where people need to be able to trust (and take actionable steps from) test results
  • You can measure higher-level skills (understand, apply, and evaluate, rather than just know and recall) more easily
  • Scenario-based assessments tend to have more media-rich and dynamic question types, making them more engaging for test-takers
  • They have the potential to allow for multi-step case studies or scenarios, where the scenario a test-taker is presented with develops over time, which again, presents learners with much more realism

How do you deliver scenario-based assessments?

Delivering powerful scenario and case-based assessments requires technology that gives you complete freedom to build scenarios that truly align with the skills you’re measuring. 

With Advanced Assessments, test authors can create life-like and detailed scenarios that can be reused across multiple assessments or to ask a nested sequence of questions. Whether it’s creating a patient scenario with ECG results and medical history notes for nursing exams, or leveraging dynamic content features to create mock transactions for financial assessments, Advanced Assessments offers almost unlimited possibilities for assessing test-takers at any level and for any skill. 

The benefits of Advanced Assessments

With Advanced Assessments, test authors can:

  • Create assessments with a huge range of question formats, from drawing and highlight questions to drag-and-drop and audio questions
  • Deliver industry-specific and scenario-based exams to a high standard with media-rich and dynamic question options
  • Upload almost any supporting file and media type to your assessments for tailored questions that align with your industry and organization
  • Deliver advanced observational assessments with more responsiveness and flexibility
  • Enjoy a modern user interface with accessible-by-design features to ensure the very best experience for all users
  • Expect more future-facing platform updates, including AI-assisted tools
  • Use a range of in-depth reports for more informed decision-making
  • Get a test-taker perspective and check the assessment design by previewing questions ahead of publishing
  • Assess softer skills easily with video and audio item options
  • Easily create multi-question options with more complex layouts 
  • Enjoy responsive item and assessment designs that can accommodate varying desktop and mobile screen sizes

Examples of how to deliver scenario-based exams in your industry

No matter what you’re trying to measure, Advanced Assessments puts the power in your hands to create scenarios that make skills-based testing simple, impactful, and reliable. 

Case-Based Exams: Nursing & Healthcare

With a focus on scenario-based questions and critical thinking skills, the new Advanced Assessment question types allow for NCLEX or CNA-style questions that more closely mirror today’s healthcare challenges. From identifying illnesses from a range of symptoms to analyzing a fictional patient’s records to determine the appropriate care required, Advanced Assessments provide an excellent means of assessing healthcare professionals in an authentic and tangible way.

Health & Safety Exams: Utilities Companies 

For those organizations looking to meet regulatory requirement needs like those of OSHA inspectors, Advanced Assessments now enable them to deliver critical assessments that address key topics like electrical safety, confined space work, hazardous materials handling, fall protection, and emergency response preparedness. With more options to add visual aids like diagrams and videos plus real-world material such as maintenance records, pressure reading graphs, or technical specifications, Advanced Assessments can better assess test takers’ understanding and knowledge application in high-stakes environments. 

Compliance & Ethics Exams: Financial Institutions 

Ethics examinations within the financial industry are fundamental in meeting regulatory compliance requirements. Often, these critical exams cover essential topics like the proper handling of sensitive financial information, conflicts of interest, and the prevention of fraudulent activities. With the new Advanced Assessment capabilities underpinning the Questionmark platform, these essential exams are now even easier to create and allow for more complex and true-to-life assessing.

Certification Exams: IT Organizations

IT certifications serve as pivotal tools for validating the expertise and skills of professionals in what is a constantly evolving field. These exams, often aligned with specific technologies, platforms, or methodologies, provide a standardized means for individuals to demonstrate their skills to employers, clients, and the industry at large. 

As such, frequent and accurate skills measurement is an integral part of the industry’s success and helps negate the skills gap issues that are a common challenge to the sector.

Now, with Advanced Assessments, critical exams and certifications can be delivered quickly to keep pace with technological changes, while also providing test authors with assessment formats that mimic on-the-job tasks and challenges.

If you’re wondering if Advanced Assessments might help you with your assessment needs, why not explore our Advanced Assessment page or alternatively, talk to us, we’d love to help you bring your exams to life.

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