The most common test items for both pre and post-tests are multiple choice, true/false and short answer. It is important to keep in mind that these item types must be consistently used in both tests. Pre-tests should always have very similar, yet different questions from the post-test, and cover a wide range of topics.
 It is important that test items in both the pre and post-test focus primarily on the training objectives. Minute details are not necessarily important for a pre and post-test and can actually skew results. In fact, test takers should not be expected to memorize details, but rather demonstrate their understanding of core concepts.”  (from “Using Pre and Post-Tests to Evaluate Employee Training” by Jennie Aldridge on the Test Generator’s Info Blog)
 In spite of this clear description of both pre- and post-tests, some courseware vendors have begun promoting their pre-tests as prescriptive tools.  If a trainee passes certain sections of the pre-test, she will be automatically taken only to those learning units she did not pass.  She will not be directed to the other learning units.

There is a real danger with this practice.

Pre-tests provided by vendors’ courseware are incomplete testing units.  They typically have only one-to-five questions pertaining to each learning objective in the program.  With those few questions, it is impossible to gauge the student’s mastery of that learning objective.  Forced placement will most often cheat the learner from thoroughly understanding the knowledge he is seeking.

We also know from many surveys that individuals can guess correctly and, unfortunately due to forced placement, be directed to skip sections of the learning that they never mastered in the first place.

All in all, forced skipping of learning sections is a dangerous practice if knowledge mastery is desired.

Instead one should adopt a proven “Skills Assessment Test” which will allow students with proven mastery to skip required courses and, therefore, save the organization both time and money.  A valid Skills Assessment System allows you to develop and deliver targeted assessments aligned to specific performance objectives by identifying individual skill gaps and prescribing training to address those skill gaps.

Pre-test analysis is shaky as is most immediate post-testing (the final exam).  A far, far better method for determining learning mastery is to administer a post-test six months, or more, after the learner has finished his coursework.  You will then be able to test retention, which is the only true measurement of learning. 

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

     — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

       July 31, 2017  (Mondays & Wednesdays)



(This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)