Constructing and administrating psychological tests

Now that you have developed a good understanding of such important concepts as validity and reliability, you are ready to focus on issues related to test design and development, test administration, test scoring, and reporting and interpretation of scores. In the first part of this unit, you will learn about test development and test design. The term “test development” refers to the process of producing a measure of some aspect of an individual’s knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, attitudes, or other characteristics, by writing questions or developing tasks and then combining them to form a test according to a specified plan.




The term “test design,” on the other hand, outlines the steps and considerations for test development as well as test administration, scoring procedures, and reporting the results. Chapter 3 of The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing describes the four phases of the test development process, leading from an original statement of purpose to the final product:


Development and evaluation of test specifications.

Development and try-out and evaluation of items.

Assembly and evaluation of new test forms.

Development of procedures and materials for administration and scoring.

We recommend that you read at least the first part of Chapter 3 in the Standards before reading Chapter 6 in your Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues textbook. This chapter offers the basics of creating test items using formats such as dichotomous format (true-false), the polytomous format (multiple choice), the Likert format, the category format, and checklists and Q sorts. Pay particular attention to a discussion of item analysis provided by the authors.


In the second part of the unit you will learn about issues related to test administration, scoring, and reporting. Chapter 7 of the textbook and Chapter 5 of the Standards discuss key issues and provide a valuable guide to practice. Note that the discussion focuses on individual testing, as well as on group testing, and emphasizes the value of training test administrators. Providing sufficient training and support helps ensure that administrators develop a good understanding of the recommended procedures, and of how to use them in administering, scoring, and interpreting the tests. As you may recall from Unit 2, consistently following the established procedure is essential to support the validity of score interpretation. Although Unit 5 will be devoted to technology and testing, an introduction to computer-assisted test administration is provided in this unit.


It is important to view testing as a social relationship. Not unlike an engineer, a psychologist measures an object with technical tools, but the psychologist’s “object” is a person. Establishing personal rapport in administering tests is therefore essential, especially in individual testing. Examiners should be aware that their rapport with the test taker can influence the results. They should also remember that scores sometimes can be affected by subtle processes, such as the level of performance the examiner expects. The recurrent question about the match of examiner to test taker in ethnicity or race is a serious one, and it has received considerable attention. An important point to note is that examiner effects tend to increase when procedures for properly administering the test are not clearly presented in adequate detail, and the examiners have not received the required training. Chapter 7 in your textbook provides a good discussion of this important topic. Please see the Unit 4 Introduction for recommendations about this week’s readings.


Read the following in your Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues text:


Chapter 6, “Writing and Evaluating Test Items,” pages 157–184.

Chapter 7, “Test Administration,” pages 185–202.

Read the following in your Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing text:


Chapter 3, “Test Development and Revision.”

Chapter 5, “Test Administration, Scoring, and Reporting.”

Read the following from the Capella Library:


In’nami, Y., & Koizumi, R. (2009). A meta-analysis of test format effects on reading and listening test performance: Focus on multiple-choice and open ended formats. Language Testing, 26(2), 219–244.

Loe, S. A., Kadlubek, R. M., & Marks, W. J. (2007). Administration and scoring errors on the WISC-IV among graduate student examiners. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 25(3), 237–247. 


(Part 1)

Here are the requirements: Describe types of item formats commonly used in the following:

Objective classroom examinations.

Measure of attitude.


(Part 2)

Behavioral and Ability Tests:

Discuss the problems you would need to consider in training your observers if you were in charge of a behavioral stud