Testing a Student’s Judgment on a Future Job


“Some of what contributes to job success is difficult to assess through traditional cognitive ability or knowledge tests.”


More than Facts

Belinda Brunner’s career in learning began … with an undergraduate degree in health data management.

She soon discovered a passion for teaching adults … and, after a master’s degree in adult education, she taught health management classes for a decade.

Today at Pearson, Belinda is Director of Testing Services Strategy for Pearson VUE.

Her expertise gives her a unique perspective on a renewed approach to admissions and certification exams that test more than knowledge of facts.

It’s an area of testing called Situational Judgment. These assessments aim to measure an individual’s problem-solving ability in real work scenarios.

Situational Judgment Tests are good predictors of how someone might one day perform on the job.

Situational Judgment as an Important On-the-Job Skill

“One partner who wanted something like this was a group of medical schools in the U.K.,” Belinda says. “They were looking for ways to assess individuals’ understanding of typical workplace situations and appropriate behaviors for responding to them.”

Situational Judgment Tests are not personality tests.

“It’s always in the context of work,” Belinda says. “These are critical, job-specific incidents that challenge applicants and employees.”

“What’s the best response?” might be one of the questions applied to a particular scenario.

Or “Rate these possible responses on a scale of one to five.”

Or “How would you respond to this situation?”—even “How should you respond to this situation?”

The goal is to assess how someone might apply their judgment on the job.

Tests with ‘Significant Consequences’

Situational Judgment Tests have been around for more than 50 years.

There’s renewed interest in them among those involved in academic selection. Situational Judgment Tests are also garnering attention in the licensure and certification world.

“These are high-stakes, large-scale tests,” Belinda says. “Applicant pools are vying for jobs, and professionals are seeking licensure. Some of what contributes to job success is difficult to assess through traditional cognitive ability or knowledge tests.”

“These tests have significant consequences,” Belinda says, “and it’s important to get them right.”