The Instant Exams service provides customers with immediate access to a programme of 40 tests designed to cover core work skills including numeracy, literacy, health and safety, ICT and general business knowledge. Customers simply buy an Instant Exams account online and enter the user details to start testing staff or potential recruits. Results can be viewed immediately.
Additionally, Question Tools has made it easy for individual customers to adapt and add to its generic tests if they wish, so that they can customise them to their specific needs - using them to diagnose development needs in critical areas of their staff's performance.
Question Tools first released its online assessment authoring and test delivery tools in 2002. It has delivered major systems across multiple sites and organisations. One system now holds more than 14 million assessment responses. The QT Editor has been used by innovative educators in more than 140 countries worldwide to create online tests on a surprisingly wide range of subjects (even falconry). However, working with customers, it became clear that authoring tests called for a significant investment in time and effort, and this was a major obstacle preventing many companies from trying out online assessments.
"We originally put a huge effort into creating an easy-to-use editing tool," explained Question Tools' MD and chief technical architect, Paul Booth, "But we realised that while our editing tool made authoring individual questions easy - even complex drag and drop type questions are simple to do, no programming skills needed - the hard part lay in thinking up the tests themselves."
"As a result, we have invested in authoring a generic test programme which customers can access immediately. It takes less than 10 minutes to set up an Instant Exam account online. Once set up, people can start taking tests straightaway.
"The real benefit, I see for customers, is that they can pilot an online assessment programme at very low cost in terms of both money and time. This way, they can see for themselves whether they reap the benefits that we tell them online testing can produce."
"Best of all, the system is very flexible, so if customers like the programme but want to modify it to include their own content, or customise it to meet specific industry needs, it's easy. They can simply upgrade to an Instant Exams plus account, and we will provide them with editing tools and access to the questions/tests which they can then shape to meet their exact needs - without losing any of the data they have already collected."
Question Tools has also invested significant resources into upgrading its test authoring and delivery software. Its latest version (v4) offers multi-platform editing and delivery access, as well as greatly improved user admin, reporting and control features. Customers can use native editing apps on Windows, Linux PCs or Apple Macs for test authoring and can deliver tests to their candidates via all the major browsers, including ones optimised for mobile use on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Paul Booth explains Question Tools' development philosophy: "We have built on our experiences of working with customers over the last decade to take the technology out of the equation as far as they are concerned. Our customers don't want to have to worry about hosting databases, proxy servers or compatibility issues. We have worked very hard on the development side to make it as easy as possible for customers to set up online testing for their staff regardless of the type of kit they have available."
"The costs of the service are published on the Question Tools website: questiontools.com, and start as low as £129 for a year's subscription to an Instant Exam account."