What Does Test Standardization Mean?
Updated: Aug 19
The origins of standardized Psychometric testing dates back to the early 20th century. A French psychologist Alfred Binet developed and conducted the first intelligence test in the year 1905 for the purpose of placing French schoolchildren in the appropriate classes.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a standardized test is an assessment instrument whose validity and reliability have been established by thorough empirical investigation and analysis. It has clearly defined norms, such that a person’s score is an indication of how well he or she did in comparison to a large group of individuals representative of the population for which the test is intended.
Reliability refers to the trustworthiness or consistency of a measure, or the degree to which a test or other measurement instrument is free of random error. A test may be considered reliable if it yields the same results over multiple applications to the same sample. For example, an interest test administered to an individual should yield the same result even after being taken several times.
Validity may be defined as a judgment regarding how well a test or measurement tool indeed measures what it claims to measure. For example, a test of interest should measure interest only and not aptitude.
Norms may be defined as a standard or range of values that represents the typical performance of a group or of an individual (of a certain age, for example) against which comparisons can be made.
But why is it so important to have standardized tests?
When psychometricians talk about test standardization, they are referring to the controlled conditions and uniformity in administration and environmental conditions that need to be maintained. The test is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner; thus, the individual’s performance may be compared to the relative performance of other individuals or groups of students.
For example, if one talks about a standardized test to measure assertiveness, one would have to standardize the definition of assertiveness, standardize the test administration instructions, standardize the test scoring and interpretation and so on. All these processes help eliminating conscious or unconscious biases that may have otherwise affected the test. It also helps in providing a basis for comparisons of assertiveness between individual members of the group of participants.
Similarly, in an educational setting, a standardized test of performance is very beneficial in helping educators evaluate and identify students who may require additional coaching.
Thus, standardized psychometric tests are used in a wide variety of areas, apart from measuring performance– such as, for the assessment of personality, intelligence, brain functioning, and different aspects of psychological and social functioning.
Cohen, R., & Swerdlik, M. (2010). Psychological testing and assessment- An Introduction to Tests and Measurement (7th ed.). Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Education Private Limited.
VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14646-000