CAPE (Computer Adaptive Placement Exam)


Foreign language departments are continually faced with the task of advising and placing freshmen and transfer students in appropriate courses. This decision is often based primarily upon the number of classes the student has previously taken in the language. However, placement on this basis does not take into account several important factors which determine the student’s actual facility with the language, such as the effectiveness of the student’s past teacher(s), the specific information covered, extracurricular or other out-of-class exposure to the language.

Computerized Adaptive Placement Exams (CAPE) use state-of-the-art computer testing techniques to accurately and efficiently place students in the first two years of college language courses. CAPE selects each test item as a result of the answer to the previous question. When the student answers an item correctly, a more difficult question is presented; if an item is answered incorrectly, an easier question is given. In short, the test “adapts” to the student’s level of ability and will accurately determine the student’s competency level in about twenty minutes.

Some of the benefits of using CAPE over conventional paper-and-pencil type tests include the reduction of the testing time to about twenty minutes since fewer test items are necessary. Boredom and frustration are diminished by eliminating items that are far too easy or much too difficult. CAPE provides immediate feedback. Upon completion of the exam, students are able to see their score. Test administration and supervision are greatly simplified. The computer handles the instructions, branching, scoring, and reporting. Because of the lack of time pressure, students are able to work at their own pace. With WebCAPE the complete report is available on-line using a result-management web page. Problems related to cheating and test security are virtually nonexistent since each test is unique to one test taker. Computerized adaptive exams are more accurate than written tests.

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