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The Examinee Scheduling Algorithm - A New Tool for Computer-Based Testing

Lewis, Charles; Sheehan, Kathleen M.; Swanson, Len
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Algorithms, Computer Assisted Testing, Scheduling, Test Administration


Traditional paper-and-pencil tests have a fixed starting time and fixed time limits. All examinees follow the same schedule, and only one test, or one series of tests, is administered during a particular testing session. Computer-based tests require less rigid test administration procedures. Since the computer displays test directions and controls timing, variable starting and ending times can be accommodated. In addition, many different tests, with different time limits, can be administered in the same room. This paper introduced an algorithm for individualized scheduling of computer-based tests. The objective of the algorithm is to maximize the use of available equipment, subject to some reasonable constraint on the amount of time examinees might have to wait for an available computer. Besides providing a tool for operational scheduling of examinees, the algorithm also provides a convenient method for exploring possible reductions in test center expenses. In this non-operational, research-oriented mode, the algorithm simulates examinees requesting test dates at random and, for different test center configurations, assesses the degree of test center utilization, the maximum number of examinees that can be scheduled in a specified time period, and the distribution of examinee waiting times. Test center configuration parameters which can be varied include the number of computers, the hours of test center operation, and the maximum tolerable waiting time.

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