With the aim of meeting the demands from HR departments for a tool to evaluate the English level quickly and accurately —for recruitment processes, training of international teams, evaluation of the effectiveness of courses, etc.), we have developed eCat, an English adaptive test.
The test has been developed in close collaboration with EDIM (Equipo de Desarrollo e Investigación en Medición —Measurement Development and Research Team—), a team of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. eCat was conceived for those who need an effective evaluation of the language skills, and stands out for being quick, comfortable and economic.
What is eCat?
eCat is an online English test, developed with procedures based on the Item Response Theory (IRT). Therefore, it is an adaptive test that selects only the most suitable questions for the person who is being evaluated according to the English level detected. Hence the test will be adjusted to the responses provided by the person evaluated, so every candidate makes their own “customised test”.
eCat has two independent and complementary tests:
- eCat Grammar: measures the level of knowledge of English grammar using multiple choice exercises and cloze tests.
- eCat Verification: the grammar test also offers a verification test for tests administered in unproctored settings (for example, at the candidate’s house), so that companies may do a quick check whether the person who attends the personal interview is the one that did the test at home.
- eCat Listening: measures the level of listening comprehension using questions about conversations listened to before.
After carrying out the tests, the eCat online English test automatically generates a report including the results of the person evaluated. In the report, the person evaluated receives a score from 1 to 100, along with the corresponding level and a representative description.
Additionally, the score obtained at the listening comprehension test will be equated to the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
How does eCat work?
The eCat English online test is based on the so-called Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) that measures accurately the level certain skills are developed. This method optimizes the time spent carrying out the test, as it uses the lowest number of questions needed. Following the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) model, eCat selects the elements that provide the most relevant information about the skills the person evaluated proves to have.
The Head of HR may select the tests that will be incorporated into a recruitment process: eCat Grammar alone, eCat Listening alone, eCat Grammar and Verification or the whole pack.
At the beginning of the process, instruction manuals of the management system are provided along with all the documents needed to start using the tool. Moreover, our team is readily available to solve any doubt arising during the whole process.
The Head of HR may use the eValue management system in order to manage users and assessment processes, as well as to download reports and scores, check the status of assessments, create or customise users, etc.
Likewise, candidates can connect online and complete the tests already assigned to them from any computer at any time. There is no need of downloading any software.
Accuracy and reliability
The test was built following a process that guarantees obtaining relevant and objective information about the English level of evaluatees.
Equal opportunities for all candidates
eCat ensures equal opportunities within a process and allows comparing the scores obtained by all candidates at the same time, instead of comparing certificates obtained in different dates.
Content is under control
As questions are adapted to every person’s level, each test is different, which makes it difficult to spread the content of the test.
The online evaluation reduces costs in contrast to the costs related to carrying out personal interviews.
Evaluation times reduced
Adaptive methodology makes of eCat a complete evaluation in the shortest possible time: 15 minutes for Grammar and 15 minutes for Listening.
eCat is the result of the work done by a team of psychologists, psychometricians and information engineers at the Institute since 1997 with regards to the development and research based on Computerized Adaptive Testing. Also, we collaborate closely with EDIM (Equipo de Desarrollo e Investigación en Medición —Measurement Development and Research Team—) of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and the results of their research are incorporated to eCat in order to guarantee it is being constantly improved and updated.
eCat is being used both in national and international big companies, as well as in SMEs.
A wide range of people from different countries, nationalities and professional profiles have completed the test. The results, attained at the researches performed and published by the Psychometric Models and Applications Chair in close collaboration with IIC, demonstrate eCat effectiveness.
eCat is monitored to ensure the system is available 24 hours a day. The technical soundness, along with a specialised technical support team, guarantees a very low number of incidences and a quick response time.
Why invest in eCat?
eCat provides distinctiveness:
- It has a set of items that have been rigorously built, and the algorithms involved provide the psychometric guarantees that are needed to ensure reliability and accuracy.
- It cuts down to the minimum the possibility of a previous preparation of the exam by the candidate, as it happens with other tests. In order to pass eCat, training cannot be possibly provided. We use our own items, so they cannot be found on the internet.
- It controls cheating: The test can be completed at home, but there is no room for fraud or cheating (for instance, if the person evaluated has been helped with the test), since eCat has a verification test to check briefly if the level of the test performed without supervision corresponds to the actual level of the candidate.
- eCat may be conducted in the same platform as eValue (online system of assessment which may be integrated with eCat). Hence the candidates experience with the tests is made more dynamic and visualising results is easy for the evaluator.
Solutions implemented so far
Our clients enjoy the benefits of using eCat for their evaluation processes, whether they are financial entities, technology consultants or public companies carrying out massive and continuous processes, or small and medium enterprises for specific processes or processes involving few candidates.
Our efforts are aimed, with the team from the University Chair, at conducting new studies that allow us ensuring the eCat guarantees to measure the language skills and ensure they are constantly being improved. We learn through working closely with our clients.
The set of items and the algorithms involved in eCat provide the psychometric guarantees that are needed to ensure reliability and accuracy.