[IPAC-List] Test preparation/orientation websites

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Wed May 13 17:50:54 EDT 2009

I frequently get asked by people who know my previous job how to prepare for tests. The majority of requests are for those taking an in-basket test for a managerial position. Obviously, professional ethics precludes giving them any inside information, but what I do tell them about is the manner in which it will be scored, or rather, WHO is scoring it, since that prepares them for how to prepare their answers.

In our particular case, in-baskets are scored by contract scorers. They get paid by the test, so the more tests they score per hour, the better paid they are. They are quite capable, and expert in their use of the template, but they know nothing of the particular job one has applied for. All they know is they have a scoring template, and they look for creditable content which lines up with the template. And THAT is something which many candidates simply never consider. They may have this image of scorers as being savvy about the position particulars, but the fact is that NO ONE is going to think about what they wrote in terms of that, and apply any sort of contextualized consideration of their answers. They are also not going to look for themes snaking through an 8-page response protocol. What they want is for creditable content to simply leap off the page at them, a point at a time. And quite frankly, that is exactly what any teaching assistant wants from an undergrad's short essay questions too. The content needs to be organized, and each point of content needs to be self-contained. Linkable, yes, but self-contained enough to be recognizable as an example of competency X.

So, the advice given is to simply make sure that one's written response is organized enough to be easily codable as scoring template items X, Y, and Z. You'd be surprised how many test-takers who have never really administered or scored tests themselves simply never think about what the test scorer needs to make *their* job easier.

I've never seen that sort of info made available, but personally I think it is advice you can take to the bank. It also serves to make the test a little more transparent to the test-taker, and broaches the test as something the testee and employer can co-operate on.

Just my $.02

Mark Hammer

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