The time provided for your custom test depends on a few factors. This article explains how to calculate the right time.
When you create your own custom test for candidates, you can determine how many questions your test will have and how much time candidates will have to complete the test. Striking the right balance plays an important role, not only in how successful candidates may be at the test but also in how good an experience they have with your test. Custom tests are available to Account Owners, Admins, and Recruiters on the Scale and Business plans.
Approx. reading time 2 minutes
In this article
- Consideration 1: time per question
- Consideration 2: word count of questions
- Consideration 3: type of questions
Consideration 1: time per question
In order to begin calculating the overall time for your test, consider how long candidates may need to answer each question in your test based on the following guidelines:
- Minimum time: 30 seconds per question
This is the minimum time you should provide per question. You should only provide this little time if your questions are short — a maximum of 40 words — and straightforward.
- Good amount of time: 45-60 seconds per question
This gives candidates a good amount of time to read longer questions — up to 80 words for scenario questions with answers that don't exceed 25 words each — and/or solve cognitively taxing questions that require time to think or calculate the right answer.
- Long time: 90 seconds per question
This is a long time for questions in a screening test. Consider the following three disadvantages:
- It makes your overall test long, which may discourage candidates from taking and/or completing the assessment
- It can affect the test integrity as candidates may have time to look up the answer
- It will make it more difficult to distinguish good from great candidates, as completion time is part of the measure of the candidate's performance.
Consideration 2: word count of questions
You should always aim to make test questions as concise as possible. Extraneous information will not only add unnecessary reading time for candidates, but it can also unintentionally confuse candidates or create doubts about the main point of the question at hand.
Keeping in mind that an average reading speed is about 200 words per minute and that candidates will need at least a few seconds to choose their answer — depending on the type of question asked — the following guidelines can help you determine how long candidates need per question:
- up to 60 words (question + answers): 30 seconds
- 60-180 words (question + answers): 45-60 seconds
- over 180 words (question + answers): more than a minute, but it's best to avoid questions of such length where possible.
|Note: There is no need to adjust the above rules of thumb based on the language proficiency of your candidate pool. TestGorilla will add 20% extra time for candidates who are not fluent speakers of the assessment language — this is indicated on the candidate's results page.|
Consideration 3: type of questions
Generally speaking, there are two types of questions:
- Straightforward, knowledge questions. Candidates either know or do not know the correct answer right away. For example, "What is the definition of X?"
These questions can be answered in little more time than it takes to read them.
- Problem- or scenario-based, cognitively demanding questions. These require candidates to figure out or calculate the right answer. This type of question generally uses more words than knowledge questions to convey the full problem to solve and requires additional thinking time before arriving at the right answer.
These answers should generally be allotted 45-75 seconds to solve.
Did you know?
We have a five-article series, to help you create your own tests using the TestGorilla platform.
The full series includes:
- Developing an effective screening test
- Choosing a question type
- Writing situational judgment questions
- How to create and use your own test
- Creating a coding question or test (optional)
If you're making a test and you haven't read that series, we highly recommend you do so, starting with: Developing an effective screening test