What are Adaptive Exams?

Adaptive testing, or Computer Adaptive Testing as it's more officially known, is a method of tailoring an exam to each individual candidate's skill level or knowledge. In a traditional exam all candidates are presented with the same number of questions in the same order. An adaptive exam however chooses questions based on the candidate's responses to previous questions, therefore not all candidates receive the same set, or even number, of questions. A steadily growing number of vendors are moving to an adaptive exam format as opposed to a fixed-number exam model, partly to address the threat of 'braindumps', and partly to more thoroughly test a candidate's knowledge.

In reality, the behind-the-scenes complexity of an adaptive exam can be quite significant but, generally speaking, when a candidate answers an adaptive exam question correctly they will then be presented with a question with a higher difficulty rating. If they answer incorrectly, they will be presented with an easier question. After each and every question is answered, the exam software will evaluate the candidate's skill level and determine the next appropriate question to be asked. In the early stages of the adaptive exam the step-up or step-down in difficulty from one question to another is more pronounced but as the candidate moves through the exam the difference in difficulty rating between the questions becomes more subtle as the exam software learns more about the candidate's level of skill. The candidate is scored not on the number of right or wrong answers given, but rather on the average difficultly level of the questions answered correctly.

One of the most important aspects about an adaptive test as opposed to a fixed exam is that you cannot go back and change your answers in an adaptive exam. As each subsequent question is based on the answer you give to the question before it, going back to change an answer is impossible. Thus, you need to read each question carefully and be sure of your answer before going on to the next question.

The number of questions that you have to answer will generally depend on the number of correct or incorrect answers that you give. The more you get right, the fewer questions you'll normally have to answer while the more you get incorrect, the more you'll have to do. Because your score is ascertained from the average difficulty level of the questions answered, it is still possible to miss a number of questions and yet get a relatively high score on the exam.


Adaptive Exam Strategies


Your Studying Environment

Multiple Choice Exam Strategies

Studying Tips