Interpretation of Test Scores

Statistics is a collection of processes used to describe, synthesise, analyse, and interpret quantitative data or observations. These processes allow us to represent many numerical scores as single numbers, comparing groups of students based on one or more factors or attributes. Every practicing teacher must have a fundamental understanding of statistics to comprehend how data is collected, obtained, arranged, and analysed and what reasonable conclusions may be taken from the data analysis.

Interpreting Test Scores

There are many methods to interpret test scores. Comparing scores is typically involved when using norms to evaluate test results. Most norm-based scores provide information about your position on a particular group of people (i.e., the norm group). Another essential basis for evaluating test results is standards. It might be advantageous to compare your performance on a test with some external norm rather than seeing where you stand about others. A norm-based score that compared you to your classmates would be high if you had a D- on an exam where most of your classmates received an F. However, your absolute level of performance would be relatively low.

Interpreting Test Scores by Computer

Computers are becoming a crucial tool for test score interpretation, to the point where some computerized test interpretation systems are intended to take the place of psychologists and other testing professionals in interpreting test and inventory scores. Computers can be used in a variety of ways to assist in the interpretation of test results. In its most basic form, computer software might fetch and display data regarding the accuracy and reliability of test results (for instance, when error bands are presented around scores) or regarding the many norms employed to interpret tests. It might involve a fully automated testing, diagnosis, and treatment system in its most extreme form.

Interpreting Test Scores by Central Tendency

The mode, median, and mean are three central tendency measures frequently used to interpret test scores. The term "central tendency" refers to the propensity of scores or measurements to centre or concentrate around the central mean value. Large amounts of data can be described using the central tendency using fewer 'typical' scores like mean, median, and mode. The central tendency property is beneficial in statistical analysis, particularly descriptive and inferential statistics. We can use it to describe a group's overall performance on a psychological test. When comparing the performance of two groups, measures of central tendency are always used.

  • Mean − The mean represents the numerical average of the scores. The calculation is done by adding together all of the raw scores and dividing the total by the total number of scores. Because of how the mean is calculated, every score is considered. The mean is significantly shifted in favour of the extreme scores if some of the scores in the set are extremely small or extremely large compared to the rest. The mean, however, is generally favoured as a measure of central tendency. It is a more accurate and stable index than the median and mode.

  • Median − The middle value of the ordered data is the median value of a data set. The data first needs to be arranged in numerical order. The median concept can be compared to the median of a triangle, which divides the triangle into two equal parts by area. Here, the area and the size of the group are comparable.

  • Mode − The most frequent value in a data set is called the modal value. A distribution may occasionally have two modes. If two scores have the same and highest frequency in a set of scores, then both are modes. A distribution of this type is referred to as bimodal. Multimodal distributions are possible as well.

Interpreting Test Scores by Percentile

Test scores are ranked using the percentile statistic about other scores in a particular dataset. A percentile score of X indicates that X% of the dataset's scores fall below and 100-X% fall above it. For example, a score at the 75th percentile is higher than 75% of the other scores and lower than 25%. This is frequently done to compare a person's score to the norm or average for a specific population.

Interpreting Test Scores by Criterion-Referenced Approach

This interpretation entails determining whether the subject has complied with a particular requirement or norm. The psychologist establishes a minimum score that a person must achieve to show that they have mastered a particular ability or body of knowledge.

Factors to consider while Interpreting Test Scores

Test results can reveal important details about a person's knowledge and abilities, but it is crucial to interpret them correctly to gain a thorough understanding. Here are some pointers for interpreting test results

Know the test's purpose − It is crucial to comprehend the test's objectives and intended outcomes before interpreting test results. For example, aptitude, achievement, and personality tests have different goals.

Interpret scores in context − The test-takers background, experience, and performance history should all be considered when interpreting test scores. For example, a student's test results might be below average, but this could be because of a communication gap or a lack of preparation

Compare to norms − Norms or average scores are typically provided for comparison on tests. These norms can be a starting point for assessing how the test-score taker relates to those other individuals in their age group, grade level, or population.

Look at patterns − A person's performance patterns or trends can be seen in test results. For instance, a student's test results can demonstrate a constant improvement over time or a weakness in a particular topic.


In the testing process, it is critical to consider any sources of bias or inaccuracy. Test-taker weariness is one possible source of error, and it might affect test results if the person is drained or loses concentration while taking the test. Cultural or linguistic disparities could also factor in prejudice, as certain people may not be able to take specific assessments because of these factors. When interpreting the results, these variables should be considered as they may affect the validity of the test results.

Updated on: 14-Feb-2023

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