The Dynamic Placement Test is an online placement test for English. It is used by Organisation and Human Development managers, recruitment agencies, immigration consultants and in language audits.
For many companies, the start of a new year often means a flurry of new projects, new positions and, unfortunately, a mountain of administrative work. Take the Saudi Arabian communications company, TW*, for example – users of the Dynamic Placement Test. In their recruitment and training cycle, all candidates are tested on their English level before they can start work. ‘I have to process hundreds of candidate test results when we recruit and train our employees. One day there will be 600 candidates to test, the next it can be 800.’ shared one HR manager.
This massive influx of candidate information, that requires quick processing, means choosing the right placement test and administrative platform is vital. But how do you manage efficiency with successful outcomes? Here are three things to consider when choosing a placement test for your program.
1. Test capability
What are you trying to measure? Are you looking for a detailed four-skills report, or an ability-focused result? Something like the IELTS test will give you an in-depth understanding of your candidate’s abilities. But this type of test may deter a large proportion of candidates from applying to you because of the time and financial commitment required by this test.
On the other hand, an ability-focused result, like the CEFR, can show you more practically what your candidates can or can’t do. It is also widely recognised and compatible in all levels of education and professional life. Take TW. Based in Saudi Arabia where the education system aligns with the CEFR, it only makes sense for the company to use a CEFR-based test. This way both administrators and candidates don’t have to cross reference their results with a testing standard they are unfamiliar with.
Of course, while the test has to be able to deliver the result you need, it has to deliver it within a reasonable time frame. If you are testing 600 candidates or more a day, it is unreasonable to adopt a test that will take up more than 30 minutes. In an on-site testing centre, anything more than 30 minutes would be a logistical challenge. If you are testing remotely, 30 minutes is an acceptable period of time for candidate’s to set aside to complete the test.
You may also want to consider what additional data your placement test could provide for you. For example, TW tested their candidates before and after their training program. While they gathered data on each candidate’s English level, and any improvements in ability, they were also able to use this data to test the efficacy of their training program. If none of the candidates’ English level was improving, a closer inspection of the training program was required.
According to CIO Insights, more than one third of all corporate software purchases go unused. While they do not disclose the reasons behind this waste of resources, it’s not hard to think why: lack of resource awareness, complicated tools, lack of training or support. Before you purchase a placement test, make sure your provider lays out all the resources, support materials, and training available to you through the administration platform. This is, after all, meant to be a tool that makes your life easier.
In the case of TW, with their large cohort of testing candidates, they found a small proportion of test takers that would send in individual or circumstantial issues that needed to be resolved. ‘One of the most frequent problems I came across was unprepared candidates.’ shared the HR manager. ‘Often, candidates knew they had to take a test, but didn’t think to do any system checking or read through the practice instructions in English.’
In response to the issue, Clarity released a set of test taker video guides to be sent directly to candidates before their tests. The ‘Guide for Test Takers’ was created in the test taker’s native language, ensuring all candidates were fully aware of what they were expected to do before and during the test. Attaching these videos to introductory emails proved to be successful in reducing the volume of questions asked during the testing periods.
Taking the time to lay out your testing priorities and available resources will help you choose the right placement test for your program. Whether you are testing 60 or 600 candidates a day, choose a placement test that will do the work for you and make mountains of administrative work an idea of the past.
*To preserve the anonymity of the client we have used a fictitious name. All other details in this post are accurate.