Pilot Testing and Field Testing

In test development projects of all kinds, the trialing of new items is typically broken up into two stages, Pilot Testing and Field Testing.

Pilot testing is a small-scale trial, where a few examinees take the test and comment on the mechanics of the test. They point out any problems with the test instructions, instances where items are not clear, and formatting and other typographical errors and/or issues. In the case of computer-based testing, pilot-test examinees also comment on any issues with the computer interface. Once all issues with the test items and forms have been addressed, the tests are ready for large-scale field testing.

The primary purpose of field testing is to construct an initial picture of test validity and reliability. The test is administered to an adequate number of examinees (this number varies depending on the type of statistical analyses that will be carried out), and the raw data is used in the psychometric analysis.

SLTI can carry out pilot tests and field tests for clients as part of a larger test-development project, or can assist them with the planning and implementation of these types of trials.