“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.” ~David Warlick

The year 1990’s was a turning point for technology and greatly affected the Human Resources and Testing industries the most. The most significant advancement at that time were computer-based tests (CBT) or testing, which today has grown, exponentially driven by coverage and speed of the computer technology. Additionally, company costs have somewhat reduced. This has helped companies to take advantage of the opportunity and tap into the method of computer-based technology.

So, what are computer-based tests (CBTs)?

Computer-based tests today is the method of assessments via the computer, replacing the traditional method of pencil and paper. Computer-based tests have currently become popular and many organisations have started adapting this technology to their respective systems. This had made delivery of large scale tests faster and more efficient. In fact, many testing and assessment platforms or online programs offer computer-based tests primarily.

Today, this is considered as the standard form of test delivery. This has made testing programs more feasible for licensing, administration, and certification purposes. According to Prometric, computer-based testing (CBT) is an efficient way to provide a secure, consistent environment for certification and licensure while significantly enhancing candidate experience.

Disadvantages of computer-based tests

Alongwith its success, computer-based tests also come with some glitches. There have been blunders and even doubts along the way, regarding its efficient delivery of, as compared to the manual process of taking tests.

Numerous questions were raised regarding the security of computer-based tests, its psychometric quality, and the reliability of the test’s delivery. There have also been problems related to the access of its testing centres or platforms.

There have also been complaints about the adverse effects of the weather on such technologies and other testing biases. Additionally, computer-based tests come with a hefty price tag; they more expensive as compared to manual testing methods, because of the extensive use of advanced technology to run it.  

The increased demand for computer-based tests has put an enormous toll on developers, constantly prompting them to speed up and produce results, to heighten security measures. While doing so they are also expected to maintain the speed and reliability of testing procedures.

Computer-based tests are said to be tailor-fit to those who are technologically savvy or are comfortable with using computers rather than with the traditional pencil and paper mode of testing. But, this can be the liability for some people who are not so proficient with handling computers.


Some of the most common technological edge or advantages of computer-based tests are as follows:

  • Test items are easy to understand and follow through.  You get faster access to your test results and scores which you can readily check online or follow a particular period of the computer based tests.
  • Interactive features make it easier to manage tests such as the online timer which can help you track your time while taking tests and other HELP functions which allow you to take your tests in a breeze.
  • If in case you would need headphones for audio tests that would require you to listen to individual recordings or instructions, then you can easily adjust volume and also play back over and over again when necessary.  
  • You can also edit your answers right then and there on the screen or redo them without any mess or erasures that can ruin the integrity or validity of your test sheets. Computer based tests are convenient and wouldn’t take much effort or time.
  • These tests have the potential to gauge and quantify the examinee’s aptitude, capabilities, and performance because of data gathered from tests; that which a manual test can’t do. Speedy and cost-effective as it reduces time burned for test administration and evaluation or reporting of scores.
  • Computer-based tests are readily accessed online and in a more regular fashion as compared to waiting in line when signing up for manual tests. Simulation and visualisation have increased testing proficiency and adaptability. Examinees are given well-pixelated images with high resolution providing more information about the test items.
  • Real-time assessments with videos and audio recording of trials or phone simulations, if and when applicable, help many employers and other industries examine human interactions and assess vast expertise and skills of examinees.

The security and reliability offered by computer-based tests which Mettl provides clients is what makes people more confident with the system. Computer-based tests or also referred to as Computerised Adaptive Tests (CATs) have come a long way. This was the end-product of years of research by a pool of psychometricians and IT specialists.

Many major testing facilities have incorporated computer-based testing programs in their organisations and from a scholar’s standpoint; this is taking a large-scale paradigm shift as far as the testing industry is concerned. Continuous research and testing shape the future of computer-based tests.

This may not be a perfect system altogether but is far better than its manual counterpart regarding speed, reliability, accuracy, and security. These are primarily the key factors that make computer-based tests the stronger route as compared to other methods known so far. Program research and other empirical studies are being conducted to improve the system of computer-based tests further.


Researchers for computer based tests have come a long way since the idea came along in the 1970’s. Paper-based assessments have been computerised to be utilised for modern computer-based testing. This is reminiscent of the late 1940’s and 1950’s, the period wherein paper-based tests were at its strongest, and computer-based tests were just part of a psychobabble, an idea or a dream project at that.

The extensive use of computer-based tests in all the main industries also urged psychometricians and IT experts alike to ensure that test results are accurate, fair, and reliable. The growth has been analogous, as experts would put it.

This also increased the challenge and demanded from psychometricians and large assessment platforms like Mettl to ensure that the evaluation models and modules are free from contamination and that these programs are well-calibrated and operate in a smooth and seamless fashion. The extensive simulation and exposure to different stimulus make computer-based tests the assessment instrument of today and the future.