When a Test Really Tests You

Years ago, when I worked at a bank, I was required to take an online training course once a week in order to keep up with federal regulations and bank compliance. I would spend thirty minutes going through the training course, clicking through each course page, reading word for word. When the test came along at the end, I was confident that I would score well, and felt that I had a good grasp of the material. Then I would see the questions and realize that I was about to fail.

The problem was not my lack of knowledge, but the questions themselves.  I was expected to know some random statistic that had been tossed in at the bottom of page three that really wasn’t important to the lesson as a whole. Or know the answer to a question that wasn’t even in the training course at all! I felt like I was being tested on how much I was paying attention and not on my comprehension of the lesson.

So I would fail the test and have to restart the training course all over again. This time I would take notes. Then the questions at the end would change! There was another round of random statistics I should have had memorized. In the end, a half hour lesson took over an hour. This was time I could have spent attending to other duties. And as we all know, time is money.

To avoid this mistake (and to save yourself some money) be sure to carefully design your test to reflect what you really want your trainees to get out of your training course. Be more general. Put yourself in your trainees’ shoes. Well not literally, as that would be strange…but you get my meaning.

Here’s an excellent article about how to best design a test at the end of a training course:

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