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Assessment Blog

24th August 2022 | Digital assessment

A-Z of digital assessment: A glossary of terms

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It’s never been more important to keep up with the latest developments in the world of digital assessment. But it’s not always easy when there’s a bunch of technical jargon to navigate. We’ve put together a glossary of terms that you will likely come across whether you’re just starting to get to grips with online assessment or you’ve already adopted digital assessment tools and are looking to stay abreast of industry trends. This list will be a live resource at your disposal, that we will update as and when new terms emerge.

Digital assessment term


Adaptive comparative judgement

A method of using comparisons as an alternative to traditional marking. Assessors are presented with two pieces of work side-by-side, and they choose which is better. An adaptive algorithm then helps achieve reliable professional consensus on the rank order of all pieces.

Adaptive testing

The process of tailoring the difficulty of test questions to a candidate's ability. (Can also be referred to as computer-adaptive testing.) (1)

Authoring tool

Software that allows you to create digital items and tests for an assessment.


The subject matter expert who typically writes the item or test for an assessment.


The automatic calculation of scores completed by an e-marking tool as soon as the exam session has finished.

Assessment for learning

An approach to learning and assessment which sees learners become more active in the learning process and in thinking about their own performance. (See also: formative assessment.) (2)

Blended assessment

A combination of both digital assessment and paper-based assessment methods.

Computer-based testing

The delivery of tests using computers instead of via pen and paper. (3)

Content management system

In the context of digital assessment, it refers to a software tool used to create, manage and modify content for assessments.

Delivery platform

The suite of technology that enables an assessment to be deployed and completed digitally by the candidate.


The use of technology to carry out the end-to-end assessment processes.


The use of technology to mark or grade an assessment electronically.


An assessment that is delivered to a candidate on-screen. (4)

End-point assessment

The final test used in the UK at the end of an apprenticeship to assess the range of knowledge and skills the apprentice has gained throughout their training.

Formative assessment

A way of assessing learners during the ongoing learning process that allows teachers to adjust their teaching to meet student needs and actively involve learners in the process. (See also: assessment for learning). (5)

High stakes assessment

An assessment that is used to inform important decisions or outcomes. (6)


An individual who is employed to observe candidates sitting an exam to protect against exam malpractice. (Also referred to as a proctor). (7)

Item bank

A repository for test questions and other test elements which allows them to be repurposed.

Live pilot

A pilot of an element of a qualification that leads to an award. Used to prove the robustness of a digital assessment delivery system and other associated processes. (8)

Low stakes assessment

A method of assessment that does not impact learners' final grades or any other educational outcomes. (9)


An external process (removed from the marking of assessments) that makes sure that standards have been applied correctly and that marks are fair and accurate. (10)

Offline assessment

A way of running computer-based tests without the need for an internet connection.

On-demand assessment

An assessment that can be taken at a time and date of the learners' choosing within their study programme/course.

On-screen assessment

An assessment that is completed by the candidate on a computer screen.

Peer assessment

A learning process that allows learners to critique and feedback on each other's work using benchmarks typically set by the teacher.


An individual who is employed to observe candidates sitting an exam to protect against exam malpractice. (Also referred to as an invigilator.)

Question type

A way of categorising the sort of question being asked in an assessment. Examples include drag and drop, multiple choice and sequence response.

Remote proctoring

The supervision of a candidate through visual and audio connections over the web while they complete their assessment. (Also referred to as remote invigilation.)

Rich media

Functional and interactive content such as video and audio.

Summative assessment

A method of assessment used to evaluate learning, skills and knowledge at the conclusion of an instructional unit that compares it to a set standard or benchmark.


The level to which an assessment has measured what it was intended to measure.


Speak to the team to find out more


(1) https://www.e-assessment.com/news/adaptive-testing/ 
(2) Getting started with Assessment for Learning (cambridge-community.org.uk)
(3) What is a computer-based test? Here's everything you need to know (mettl.com)
(4) e-Testing | CCEA
(5) 962005021.indd (oecd.org)
(6) High-Stakes Test Definition (edglossary.org)
(7) INVIGILATOR | meaning, definition in Cambridge English Dictionary
(8) The basic and key skills (BKS) e-assessment experience report (publishing.service.gov.uk)
(9) Low-stakes testing | Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (oswego.edu)
(10) Moderation guidance | The University of Edinburgh


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