Assessments and Tests


An assessment is a means to determine if a person, process, or system meets performance requirements (criteria or values) and to what degree. It is an appraisal whereby reviewers determine the merit (quality), worth (value) or significance (importance).

The term assessment is an over-arching concept with a broad meaning and is situation-specific. For example, "assessment" can be used to convey a set of expectations for a job, which may involve testing using both oral and written examinations. So this begs the question..."But how do you know if the method of the assessment is good or not?" One method is through assessment validation, which involves the evaluation of assessment processes, tools and techniques. In other words, standards (a measuring stick) is applied to the ruler to make sure it is accurate. Assessment validation is a form of meta-evaluation (an evaluation of an evaluation.


A test is an instrument used for measuring knowledge, skills or abilities. Tests are frequently administered in electronic format and may utilize:
  • Multiple choice (including select all that apply referred to as multiple-multiple choice)
  • True/False (including yes/no type variations)
  • Open ended (including fill in the blank)
  • Matching (including drag and drop)
Tests may be:
  • Oral: spoken comments in an interactive method
  • Written: essays or checking boxes
  • Non-verbal: Eye exam where visual cues may call for use of body language, i.e., pointing

Exam: Lessons Learned Project Team Members

This 100 question exam is designed for an individuals who will work as a project evaluator and need to have demonstrated understanding of project management and evaluation.

It represents key concepts found in the PMBOK produced by PMI and PRINCE2. It also contains evaluation discussions and theories presented at AEA conferences.

Exam: use of different types of questions (as shown above) to assign a letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) or pass/fail. An exam of this nature should be based upon a standard, i.e., PMBOK. An exam is constructed to determine if an individual has the necessary knowledge to perform their job functions. While this particular exam is not intended to certify, a certificate of completion may be appropriate.

Pop Quiz: Key Stakeholders

A pop quiz is intended to be short for the most part. People do not prepare for a pop-quiz, because it is not announced. Multi-media can be used if a goal is to keep it entertaining. In this game of tic-tac-toe, an individual plays against themselves. It is a paradigm shift in how we think of the game. They player gets a "O" for answering questions correctly. Three "Os" result in a tic-tac-toe. If they answer all nine questions correctly, they create a blackout.

Knowledge Check: External Resources

A knowledge check can be beneficial for external resources:
  • Consultants
  • Contractors
  • Vendors
  • Suppliers
It can help instill the policies and practices of the organization.

Classic Examples of Assessment Validation


When an employee receives a skill check that is required in order for them to perform their work tasks, the standard by which the assessment was created must accurately reflect the work they will perform on the job.

The assessment should be validated by the supervisor and previous employees who performed the work tasks.


When a process is critically reviewed through a procedural check involving specific methods, i.e., preferred sequence based upon traditional experience, the qualification standard by which the assessment was designed must accurately determine if the sequence has better alternatives. This is a common approach to process improvement. When complex, the assessment should be validated by the several individuals who perform the activities.


When a new system is analyzed as a part of the implementation, i.e., providing accurate readouts of statuses, the validation approach must meet criteria specified by regulatory agencies. The validation standard by which the assessment was designed must confirm the optimum and minimum performance requirements in either a prospective validation.

As the system undergoes annual verification, through a retrospective validation, the same performance criteria may apply.
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