In Brief

For the first time, students who take college admissions tests, job-seekers who take tests as part of the interview process and consumers who undergo psychological tests can be certain of their rights and responsibilities as test-takers. In April, the Joint Committee on Testing Practices, a group of psychologists and educators from several professional associations, including APA, released guidelines delineating the rights and responsibilities of test-takers in clinical practice and counseling settings, schools and industry.

Committee co-chair Julie Noble, PhD, an educational researcher at ACT Inc., says she hopes the guidelines will help eliminate misuses and misunderstandings that can creep into testing procedures in education, counseling and occupational settings.

"Until now, the only documents that have dealt with testing standards were for testing professionals," says Noble.

Although members of the public can obtain such documents, she says, the material is too technical to be useful to most test-takers.

According to the new guidelines, rights of test-takers include the right to:

  • Be treated with courtesy, respect and impartiality.

  • Be tested with measures that meet professional standards and to have test results interpreted by an appropriately trained professional.

  • Understand the purpose and uses of the test.

  • Inquire about accommodations for disabilities or difficulties comprehending the language of the test.

  • Know in advance the time, location and cost of testing and receive a timely and understandable explanation of test results.

  • Be informed of the consequences of not taking, not fully completing or canceling the scores of a test.

  • Have test results kept confidential to the extent allowed by law.

  • Present concerns about the testing process and be informed of how those concerns will be addressed.

Although the initial goal of the committee was to develop a test-takers' bill of rights, "we realized that we need to acknowledge that the test-taker is an active part of the test process and that part of the onus of having good, accurate and reliable results is the responsibility of the test taker," Noble says.

Under the new guidelines, test-takers are expected to:

  • Read or listen to their rights and responsibilities.

  • Treat others with courtesy and respect.

  • Ask questions if they are uncertain of any aspect of the testing process, including questions about the confidentiality ofthe test.

  • Inform an examiner in advance in order to receive testing accommodations for illness, disability or language difficulty.

  • Appear on time for the test and pay if required.

  • Follow test instructions and represent themselves honestly.

  • Know and accept the consequences of not taking the test.

  • Present concerns about the testing process in a timely, respectful way.

--S. CARPENTER