Computer Assisted Assessments

"The application of computers to assessment processes, including delivery of tests," JISC 2010, p.56

Why would I use technology to aid question-based exams or tests?

  • Can be delivered on or off campus
  • Questions can be randomised and selected at random from a pool (e.g. 10 questions randomly selected from 30)
  • Questions can be adaptive with the next question released based on the previous answer
  • Questions can include multimedia such as images, audio, video or virtual simulations
  • Questions can be marked and a score calculated automatically
  • Reduced marking where manual marking also applies
  • Feedback can be provided instantly to the student based on their answers
  • Questions can easily be reused for another purpose or the following year
  • Statistics can provide you with information about questions which students commonly answer incorrectly helping to guide the creation of further learning materials and activities

How do I use technology to do this?

The starting point for delivering a computer-assisted assessment is to decide on whether the test is formative or summative. It is incredibly important to identify if a test is summative as this generally entails a greater amount of work, such as validating questions, testing created questions for scoring errors, checking delivery options and booking labs.


There are three main steps required to deliver a computer-assisted assessment:

1. Design the questions

Whether you are looking to deliver a formative or summative assessment the first place to start is with creating the questions and associated feedback. We currently use the Course Resources (Blackboard) Test tool to deliver these assessments as this provides a wide variety of question types.

Writing good questions for tests can be tricky but there is lots of advice available on the web on how to write assessment questions and a useful guide to start with is 'Designing effective objective test questions: an introductory workshop' from the Computer Assisted Assessment Centre at Loughborough University.

2. Author the test

Authoring of a Computer Assisted Assessment is done through the Course Resorces (Blackboard) environment. This can be either undertaken by yourself or with the involvement of the TEL team.

3. Deliver the test

Summative Delivery
Summative computer-assisted assessment is normally delivered under exam conditions as an alternative to the end of module paper based exam. The student's marks will count towards the final mark/grade for that module or programme. This can be more time consuming than a formative assessment because there are a number of tasks to be done in advance of the delivery date.

Formative Delivery
Formative computer-assisted assessment is normally delivered throughout the module as an aid to learning. It can be used as a revision aid or a diagnostic tool and provide students with instant feedback into what they are doing correctly and incorrectly.



JISC. (2010) Effective Assessment in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced assessment and feedback [online], Bristol, HEFCE.  (accessed 26 March 2015).