Computer-Based Testing Going Great

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Mannie Garza | | Saturday, July 26, 2008


National Registry reports high pass rates

The National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) began testing EMS personnel at all levels via computers on Jan. 2, and by June 1 it had tested nearly 35,000 candidates at more than 300 testing centers.

NREMT Associate DirectorGregg Margolis says the implementation of computer-based testing ˙went extremely wellÓ but acknowledges that candidates ˙in a few pocketsÓ are finding it challenging to get to testing centers located far from their home districts. He adds that NREMT is working to mitigate access problems.

NREMT surveyed test-takers and reports that 94% were able to take a test at their preferred test site, and 89% tested within two weeks of their desired date. Almost half (48%) drove less than 25 miles to test, and only 5% had to drive more than 100 miles to reach a testing center, Margolis says.

The midyear pass rates (shown in Table 1) remain consistent with those from the pencil-and-paper era. Maintaining consistency had been a major concern to the Registry prior to implementation.

Table 1: Pass rates for JanÏMay 2007

Paramedics: 74.5%

EMT-basics: 72.0%

First responders: 76.5%

EMT-I (based on the 1985 DOT curriculum): 64.00%

EMT-I (based on the 1999 DOT curriculum): 64.0%

˙The intermediate exams are very challenging based on the amount of education they get,Ó Margolis says, noting that very few people take those exams.

The test used a new format, different from the previous 70% passing model. The computer uses an adaptive method that tailors the test to each individual test-taker, which can prove disconcerting because the goal is for each test-taker to answer 50% of the questions incorrectly.

˙Everyone walks out of the test feeling that it was a difficult exam, because no matter who you are or what your ability level, the computer will seek your level and give you questions that will be challenging to you,Ó Margolis says. ˙What_s important is what questions you get right and wrong. But people are not used to feeling they got half their answers wrong.Ó

The NREMT explained this on a special DVD distributed to every EMS education program, according to Margolis. However, only one-third of the test-takers report having seen the DVD prior to taking an exam. View it at www.nremt.org in the section on computer-based testing.




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