New at SAS: Psychometric testing


Human behavior is fascinating. We come in so many shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Doesn’t it make sense that any tests we write also accommodate our wonderful differences?

This picture is of Miko, a northern rescue and a recent addition to my family. He’s learning to live in an urban household and doing great with some training. He’s going through so many new tests as he adapts to life in the city, which is quite different from being free in the northern territories. Watch for a later post on his training successes.

I’m so happy to share how SAS has been helping candidates by offering a variety of certification credentials geared towards testing for differences and preferences in thought. If you are wondering – I’ve been addicted to psychometrics for a while now, anything human behavior-related interests me. I thought I would begin with sharing some different types of testing roles that I have held in the past.

1. Psychometric testing

Before I joined SAS, I worked at CSI. To answer that unspoken thought dear reader, CSI has been providing financial training and accreditation since 1964 – way before CSI the TV show became popular.

My role as Test Manager was super exciting for someone with a curiosity for analytics and helping people succeed. In a team of four we scored over 200 exams to provide credentials. Psychometrics was the most exciting part of my job analyzing the performance of test takers to constantly innovate our tests. Psychometric tests are used to identify a candidate's skills, knowledge and personality.

2. Multiple-choice testing

While setting multiple choice exam questions, I learned that it was ideal for the four answer choices to be similar in length, and complexity (e.g. if candidates typically chose option A for a question whose right response was B, we would dig deeper to compare the lengths of the options, the language of the options, and then change the option if that was what the review committee agreed upon).

3. Adaptive testing

Prior to CSI, I worked at the test center of Devry Institute of technology. In adaptive testing, the test’s difficulty adapts to candidate performance. A correct response leads into a more complex question. On the flip side, an incorrect response leads to an easier next question. So that, eventually, we could help candidates decide which engineering program would be the right skill fit.

This is where I met the student who asked, “can my boyfriend write my exam?”

4. Performance testing

With SAS at the forefront of analytics, it should come as no surprise that certification exams have evolved to the next level. As a certification candidate you can now try out performance-based testing.

A performance test requires a candidate to actually perform a task, rather than simply answering questions. An example is writing SAS code. Instead of answering a knowledge-level multiple choice exam about SAS code, the candidate is asked to actually write code to arrive at answers.

Certification at SAS

SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4 is great for those who can demonstrate ease in putting into practice the knowledge learned in the Foundation Programming classes 1 and 2. During this performance-based exam, candidates will access a SAS environment. Coding challenges will be presented, and you will need to write and execute SAS code to determine the correct answers to a series of questions.

SAS® Certified Base Programmer for SAS®9 credential remains, but the exam will be retired in June 2019.

While writing this post I came across this on Wikipedia: it shows how the study of adaptive behavior goes back to Darwin’s time. It’s a good read for anyone intrigued by the science and art of testing.

“Charles Darwin was the inspiration behind Sir Francis Galton who led to the creation of psychometrics. In 1859, Darwin published his book The Origin of Species, which pertained to individual differences in animals. This book discussed how individual members in a species differ and how they possess characteristics that are more adaptive and successful or less adaptive and less successful. Those who are adaptive and successful are the ones that survive and give way to the next generation, who would be just as or more adaptive and successful. This idea, studied previously in animals, led to Galton's interest and study of human beings and how they differ one from another, and more importantly, how to measure those differences.”

Are you fascinated by the science and art of human behavior as it relates to testing? Are you as excited as I am about the possibilities of performance-based testing? I would love to hear your comments below.


About Author

Charu Shankar

Technical Training Specialist

Charu Shankar has been a Technical Training Specialist with SAS since 2007. She started as a programmer, and has taught computer languages, business and English Language skills. At SAS, Charu teaches the SAS language, SQL, SAS Enterprise guide and Business Intelligence. She interviews clients to recommend the right SAS training to help them meet their needs. She is helping build a center for special needs kids in this project.


    • thanks Meera, glad you enjoyed this post. Its a departure from my previous pure coding posts, but I was so excited to share the new certification testing. its exciting & that's why I thought it deserved a write!

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