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Reasons to Adapt a Test or Assessment
January 4, 2018 - By: - In: Test and Assessment Translation - No comments

Tests, with all of the time and resources that they require to develop, no longer need to be limited to a single purpose and narrow application. For test developers, test adaptation is greatly expanding the value and usefulness of assessments and their item banks.

Test adaptation transforms an assessment expressed in one language and/or grounded in one culture into an assessment that is expressed in a different language and/or grounded in another culture. In other words, with one test as your base, the process of test adaptation can yield many more additional tests. But why exactly would you choose to do that? Here are three important reasons for which you or your organization would want to adapt a test or assessment.

1. Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness

Tests can be time-consuming and expensive to develop, so why reinvent the wheel? If you’d like a relatively similar test for examinees from a different language and/or culture, then the process of adapting an existing exam can be considerably faster and cheaper than building an entirely new exam from scratch.

Successful test adaptations can be just as psychometrically valid as their original test, but at a fraction of the time and cost. That’s why new assets are not always better; sometimes it’s wiser to give new life to the assets you already have.

2. Fair Cross-Cultural or Cross-National Assessments

When cross-cultural or cross-national assessments are needed, tests should be adapted. In these cases, tests must be made valid and equivalent across languages and cultures in order to allow for fairness and comparability.

One well-known example is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is a large-scale study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These tests, given every three years, aim to assess – and compare – the educational achievement of 15-year-olds in OECD member countries. In the 2015 edition, 72 nations participated in PISA testing.

Adequate test adaptation allows cross-cultural and cross-national assessments to proceed with fairness for all test takers – and all participating countries, in the case of PISA.

3. Multiple Language Versions

Tests may be adapted when an assessment that tests for a particular set of knowledge or skills is needed for examinees from one or more different languages and/or cultural groups.

Test adaptation can help ensure that examinees are tested solely on the knowledge or skills of interest, and are not hindered by weak foreign-language skills and/or different cultural backgrounds.

One example of this could be a reasoning test administered to students in different countries. Part of the test adaptation process would involve making sure that the test items are appropriate as well as psychometrically equivalent.

Test adaptation is a tool that allows exams and assessments to accurately test for specific skills and knowledge, regardless of one’s native language.

More Reasons to Adapt Tests

Here we discussed three solid reasons why you or your organization would want to adapt a test or assessment; however, successful test adaptation is not limited to these situations.

If you’d like to discuss whether test adaptation would be a good fit for your organization’s specific circumstances, or some other ways your organization could maximize your existing testing assets and item banks, please get in touch at 212-818-1102 ext 208 or

Responsive Translation specializes in the translation, adaptation, validation and review of tests and assessments used in education, health care and HR.

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