Exam Timing (Part B)

Question: Is it better to time a test by the question or by the test as a whole? 

Answer: Test takers overwhelmingly prefer the latter. It gives them the opportunity to change their answers to questions and skip questions and come back to them later. But that is a potential problem in an unproctored testing environment where you are concerned about the validity of results. Invariably students will quickly answer the questions they can and then with the remaining time turn the exam into an open book test, with lots of time to look up the answers to the more difficult questions. So, if you are concerned about the validity of the results and are testing in an unproctored environment, time by the question. Generally 60-90 seconds per question is sufficient, based upon length of the question stem and choices. This will give students enough time to answer each question but not enough time to look up the answers. If your testing system permits there is one in-between measure: Time by the test as a whole but turn off navigation so the test taker can only go forwards. He/she cannot skip questions and come back later or revisit previously answered questions. 

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