numerical question

The numerical question in digital assessment

A numerical question is a closed question type in (digital) assessment that you can use to test specific, numerical knowledge. What are the unique characteristics of this question type, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

What is a numerical question?

A numerical question is a question that requires the candidate to give a specific number as the answer. In this closed question type, the candidate answers in the form of a number. Some application examples include calculating mortgage interest, sales tax, or net income.

Good digital testing software offers an integrated calculator within the test. This way, the candidate does not have to bring his calculator to the exam, which reduces the risk of exam fraud.

Example and score distribution of a numerical question

An example of a numerical question is as follows:

Question: What was Joe Biden’s age when he became president of the United States on 20 January 2021?

Correct answer: 78 years old

Point scoring – right-fail principle or tolerance?

It is essential to think about point allocation in this form of test. You can opt for a right-or-fail principle. The candidate only gets the points if he or she answers the question correctly. It is also possible to set a tolerance. Various options are available (e.g., +/-1 or +/- 5 years).

Advantages of a numerical question

A numeric question is very suitable in some cases. We outline below some of the advantages of this test question.

  • Accurate measurement: A numerical question enables the exam candidate to give a precise answer. As a testing organization, this allows you to recognize and value knowledge and skills accurately.
  • Versatility: Numerical questions can measure different types of knowledge. Think of not-too-complicated calculations, formulas, and geometric principles.
  • Easy to assess: Answers to numerical questions are easy to evaluate and give feedback (with the proper assessment software). This saves a lot of time and effort.

Disadvantages of a numerical question

  • Not always relevant: Numerical questions are not always appropriate to the subject matter being tested on.
  • Time-intensive for the candidate: In somewhat difficult questions, numerical questions often contain several steps to arrive at an answer. This costs the candidate time during the test-taking.
  • Only the end result counts: The disadvantage of this question type is that it is not so suitable for very complicated calculations. In that case, you also want to be able to understand and assess the analysis rather than ‘only’ the final result.

Tips for drafting

There are some tips you can keep in mind if you want to use numerical questions within your (digital) test.

  • Determine precision: It is essential to clearly define and state how many decimal places are expected in the answer. This will prevent exam candidates from entering too many or too few digits.
  • Allow for rounding: If the question calls for rounding, it is essential to set clear and consistent rules.
  • Use realistic marks: Make sure the marks used in the question are practical and fit the described situation.
  • Avoid confusing questions: Ensure the question is clear and understandable, so exam candidates do not get confused.

Conclusion – Numerical questions in digital assessment

The numerical question is vital in today’s (digital) testing landscape. Convenient tools such as built-in calculators ensure that candidates can fully concentrate on the test. However, developing a numerical question does require the necessary test expert knowledge. Want more information on this? Optimum Assessment is your partner in digital assessment.

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