Standardized Tests: History and Implementation in Universities

Educators, professors, and students are all eagerly anticipating the implementation of the new system of unified computer-based standardized exams in all Egyptian universities. This comes after the Ministry of Higher Education’s statements, since 2017, on administering university standardized tests (unified exams) as a condition for granting students profession practice license.

So what do we know about standardized tests (unified exams)? Has that type of tests already been administered in other countries before? What are these countries and were they successful?

standardized tests - Higher education

Above all, what is the relation between Qorrect assessment system and standardized tests (unified exams)? How does it help in computerizing exams nationwide in all of Egypt’s governorates? In this article, we aim to provide all the information you may need on this topic (Check our previous article 4 Ways a Perfect Assessment Boosts Higher Education Development).

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1. History of Standardized Tests

1.1. Ancient Civilizations

According to research, the history of standardized tests may date back hundreds of years. First, the Greeks used it in the 4th and 5th centuries BC, when Socrates questioned his students to test them and enrich their dialogue and knowledge.

1.2. China

In the 5th century BC, Chinese imperial tests covered different subjects: mathematics, archery, writing, and knowledge of the rules of public and private ceremonies.

standardized tests - China exams

Kang, 1974, mentioned that essay writing has started from 622 until 1905 in China. Despite the fact that these tests were not unified in the beginning, the need for administering such tests nationwide helped gradually unify them.

Furthermore, China is still considered the queen of standardized tests. Its college admission standardized test is known to be the hardest and most nerve-wrecking in the world. The whole country holds its breaths for 12 hours over the period of 2 days: the time spent in the college admission standardized test.

1.3. Europe

Standardized tests administration started in Europe in the 17th century. The Europeans adopted the Chinese testing system. Employers first used it in the UK, testing candidates for possible positions.

Moreover, following the eruption of the industrial revolution, standardized tests system was established. This concept was further maintained when public compulsory education was implemented. This is due to the need for high quality, equal education for all.

1.4. The US

According to the Time, standardized tests spread in the US in the 19th century, in order to deal with the great number of examinees in all states. That step towards unified exams was significant as public education became a necessity and written tests replaced the oral ones, which used to be conducted only for the US elite students.

 different cultures - US exams

Since then, standardized tests have turned into a revolutionary symbol for the US commitment to public education. Therefore, they were mostly seen as the best way to deliver equity and equality in education using science.

Currently, the United States is widely known for its computer-based standardized tests (unified exams), like the SAT, conducted in most of its states (each state has its own standardized test). The United States is considered one of the top countries that use unified testing. This is because many believe they are more practical to assess the learning abilities and knowledge of students coming from all different cultures.


 NAPLEX test - US exams


For example, higher education graduates are not granted profession license unless they complete the NAPLEX computer-based standardized tests that are held twice a year for $100 at least. As for the NAPLEX test questions, they mainly include patients’ data for the examinees to check and the answer the questions.

1.5. Egypt

According to recent documented scientific reports, the Egyptian Higher Ministry of Education has decided to reorganize and modernize educational system in universities.

standardized tests - pharmacy faculty students

For example, one of these reports made in 2017 stated that the number of pharmacists in Egypt is “4 times the normal rate.” As a result, there is an urgent need of a new plan for our examination process.

Therefore, the Higher Ministry of Education has taken action and decided that pharmacy last-year students are to take profession licencing tests, as mentioned before in the US model.

2. The Ministry of Higher Education and Standardized Tests

Aiming at the implementation of the ministry’s plan, more than one trial were held to examine computer-based standardized tests.

We are excited that one of these trials was done using Qorrect assessment system. More than 3 thousand students from 21 Egyptian universities used Qorrect last March in the ministry’s trial of these tests.

The Higher Education Minister Professor Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghafar has followed up on the students performance and commended the trial:

“This exam was designed as per the international standards, as it efficiently and effectively assesses students abilities in different field with no human interference.”

Also, he continued that”the test is electronically graded to guarantee transparency, impartiality, and non-discrimination.”

Further, Qorrect assessment system not only creates unified computerized exams but also delivers them to students through computers, tablets, or phones, or even paper. It also offers all required data and reports to international academic accreditation organizations. To know more about Qorrect, please press here.

3. Standardized Tests System: Egyptian Faculties Adopt Qorrect

 3.1. Qorrect Summative Assessments in Tanta University

Qorrect is honoured to announce that Professor Dr. Tarek Fayed—Head of the Unit of Assessment and Evaluation—together with Dr. Manal Al Barmawy—Vice President of the Unit, Tanta University—has signed agreement with our team to apply the software in the Faculties of Medicine, Education, Law, and Literature.

(Read our article on “Cheating in Exams: Psychology behind It and How to Stop It?“)

3.2. Qorrect Standardized Tests in Cairo University

On the other hand, Qorrect team was happy to meet, in the beginning of this month, Professor Dr. Mahmour Al Saeed—the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University—and Professor Dr. Shahinaz— Laboratories Director—and their action team, to implement using the software application process in the faculty.

The faculty adopted Qorrect as an initiative to implement computer-based standardized tests, putting its trust in its unique efficiency, performance, and time-saving options in grading tests.

Finally, looking back is not considered living in the past, but giving greater value to our present and future. And we should learn from history that implementing computer-based standardized test is not the end. It is the first step we take in modernizing and re-evaluating our educational system.

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  2. Developing and Validating Test Items, Thomas M. Haladyna, Michael C. Rodriguez, 2013.

About Yasmine Nasr

Yasmine Nasr has been part of the content world since 2017. She has worked as a translator, content writer, editor, copyeditor, and English language instructor. She holds a BA degree in English, Translation, and Literature, plus a degree in literary and media translation from the American University in Cairo. Today Yasmine is a content writer interested in education technology, especially exams autograding, computer-based exams, evaluation & assessment systems, and LMS, in relation to academic accreditation with the aim to improve exams quality and student learning and experience.

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