Traditionally psychometric assessments were designed to be delivered in a paper based form and only since the 1990s, with the growth of computers and the internet, have more and more test makers been changing the delivery method to computer based and online testing. 

In recent years, many test makers have phased out paper based tests and only offer online testing options and platforms. Just because a test can be delivered online does not mean the tests can be delivered unsupervised or unproctored. 

Supervision or proctoring of Ability tests involves ensuring the candidate:

  • Is the right person and checking this (there have been instances of candidates sending other people to do their testing for them)Supervised ability testing enhances the candidate experience and ensures fairness
  • Is completing the test unaided and alone
  • Reads and understands all the test instructions
  • Completes the practice items to show they understand what is required
  • Is able to ask questions and getting information
  • Is doing the assessments uninterrupted and in a quiet setting
  • Is doing the assessments on a fast internet connection with the right browser to optimise the testing experience

The test makers dictate the standard administration requirements needed for their tests.  Personality assessments are not timed and therefore less standardisation is needed for the testing environment.  However, most ability tests are timed which means having an appropriate testing environment is more important to ensure fairness of the test and that candidates are able to do their best.

Below outlines some of the current research findings about online unsupervised (unproctored) testing:

  • Personality assessments are valid to be administered online in an unsupervised settingTaking an assessment on a mobile may disadvantage a candidate doing ability tests
  • Personality assessments are valid to be administered online on mobile devices
  • Timed ability tests designed to be administered online unsupervised are valid as long as they are delivered on appropriate PCs or laptops
  • Administration of ability tests via smartphones and tablets may seriously disadvantage candidates as the tests are not optimised for smaller screen sizes
  • Some ability and aptitude tests can be delivered online unsupervised however there are pros and cons for this administration method

The Pros and Cons of Online Unsupervised Ability Testing

There are pros and cons when considering administering psychometric ability tests to candidates online and unsupervised, and the research supports this as an administration method in some but not all situations. 


Candidates don’t need to take time off to do the testing

Lower cost as there is no extra charge for supervised administration

Candidates can do tests to fit in with other commitments and in their own time

Very good at screening a high number of candidates’ on ability tests at a small cost

There is no guarantee that the candidate is doing the ability tests themselves, unassisted, or alone – research has shown more cheating occurs online

The ability tests (currently available) have limited norms available to compare a candidate to

The testing environment is uncontrolled which can disadvantage the candidate if they are interrupted or distracted during timing

Some test makers of unsupervised ability tests recommend the test result be verified, by further testing in a supervised setting, rather than be relied upon alone for decision making

Many test makers of unproctored ability tests use computer adaptive testing (CAT) which means they do not supply raw scores only percentile results.  This means it is not possible to create proprietary norms for roles or organisations on these tests

Another con of CAT testing is that most test makers do not give information on number correct and incorrect which is typically helpful in understanding the candidate’s accuracy and approach to the testing

There is more potential for computer issues to occur with unsupervised testing as the test makers all have preferred browsers, operating systems and internet speeds.  Without a supervisor who can set up the tests to the standards required more problems are likely to occur

With unsupervised testing there is no option to swap to paper based testing which we can sometimes do in supervised settings.  If there are computer issues, then the supervisor can opt for paper based versions if available.  Some candidates also prefer to do the tests paper based, and this is not possible for unsupervised tests

At Niche we have a wide suite of ability tests available with options for unsupervised and supervised testing to meet different client needs. Some of the unsupervised ability tests we have available are:

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