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March 2015The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Tests

I have recently taken two tests (from different sites) mainly with the objective of seeing what sort of questions are being included in these tests rather than trying to evaluate my knowledge of the subjects (since both were subjects that I know quite well).

The first of these tests specifically dealt with ECMAScript 6 which is the new version of JavaScrpt due to be released this year (it may already have been released by the time you read this). That test had one question dealing with each of a number of the new language features being added. In each case it asked you to modify some code in order to get it to do something specific. The part of the code supplied was sufficient to ensure that there was only one way to correctly code the answer. The scoring also took the time taken to answer into account giving a higher score for answering faster. Given the very specific area this test covered and the way that it did it, I consider this test to be reasonably effective in telling you just how well you know what those specific additions to JavaScript are all about. As a "for fun" test to see how up to date you are with the new changes this test worked. The site also had a general JavaScript quiz which I didn't look at but which presumably works the same way.

The other test I looked at was on a different site and was a general JavaScript multiple choice test. This particular site has multiple choice tests on a range of different languages and topics with only the one test dealing with JavaScript. This site allows individuals to sign up and will then allow them to take two tests without having to pay. The primary purpose of the site though is for companies to pay for access to the tests so that they can use them to test job applicant's knowledge of the given topic. I therefore expected this test to be far more serious and meaningful than the first test as it has a more serious purpose.

Unfortunately this test left me wondering about the level of JavaScript knowledge of the staff at the site providing the test. Some of the code samples used obsolete JavaScript commands, some questions had overlooked things resulting in none of the answers being correct, and there was even a question where the answer varied depending on which version of JavaScript you were considering (one where the answer taking ES6 into account was different from if you excluded that new version).

There was a 'contact' link on the page I ended up on at the end of the test and so I used that link to comment on how disappointed that I was that their test had so many issues with it and yet they expected companies to pay for using it to test potential employees. The following day I received a reply asking for more details of what is wrong with their test and so I provided them with more details of specific questions where either none of the answers were correct or where the version of JavaScript made a difference. I also provided examples of many antiquated and incorrect ways of coding that had been used in the questions as well as listing some of the basic aspects of JavaScript that didn't get mentioned in their test at all but which any reasonable JavaScript programmer would expect to find in such a test. I may or may not find out what effect my input has on their test.

What is really worrying to me is that there are probably lots of tests on the web that claim to serve the serious purpose of actually telling an employer just how much about a given subject that a potential employee knows but where those who created the test are themselves limited in their knowledge of the subject. This sort of problem can happen with a test on any subject but is more likely with subjects where the actual subject itself changes quite rapidly. Is a job applicant better off by not answering a question at all when all of the answers are wrong or are they better off selecting an answer they know to be wrong but which they guess is the one that the person who wrote the test thought incorrectly was the right answer?

Has I been asked to take that test by a potential employer then I think that my response would have been to stop taking the test when I got to the first question where it became obvious that the person who created the test wasn't up to date and didn't know the topic properly. I would then want to question the company with regard to why they were using such a poor test. It would of course be quite possible that the company was presenting that test in order to find out if the candidate knew enough to actually question the suitability of the test and that only candidates sure enough of themselves to question it would be considered for the job. If on the other hand they thought that was an appropriate test to use then I would have quickly determined that I wouldn't want to work there.
 

On Site

I am still coming up with lots of new JavaScript pages but rather than continuing to publish nothing but new JavaScript pages I have decided to hold off on publishing some of them and to try to get a better balance of topics. If you have a suggestion for a page on any of the topics the site covers then please let me know.
 

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