A computer skills assessment is a test that measures an individual's competence in different computer-related areas. Skill assessments, including those for computer skills, are frequently given to interviewers applying for a new job or a promotion or to students for placement into the correct classes. There is no standard subject that every computer skills assessment will cover, but many require the tester to perform basic or advanced tasks within a specific program or set of programs or to solve a common problem that may be encountered during the job or in the class for which he or she is testing.
Generally, a computer skills assessment will be taken on a computer rather than with a pencil and paper like a traditional test. This forces the tester to use practical knowledge about computers, such as correct manipulation of the mouse or trackpad and adequate typing skills, to even take the test, which guarantees some level of competence. Additionally, tests on the computer allow for a broader range of practical questions. For instance, on a computer, the tester may be required to complete certain actions, such as opening a text editor, typing a line of text, changing the font, and then saving the document. This type of demonstration of practical knowledge, which would be very difficult to replicate on a standard pencil and paper test, is common to many computer skills assessments.
Depending on the type of computer skills assessment, different sets of skills and knowledge will be needed to pass the test. This is usually related to the reason the tester is taking the assessment. For example, interviewers looking to achieve a clerical position may be tested on typing speed and accuracy, as well as his or her ability to perform certain functions in spreadsheet programs or format and edit text documents. A computer repair technician, however, may be required to take a computer skills assessment that includes software troubleshooting and installations, resolving network problems, and other similar items.
Skills assessment tests may or may not be standardized so that the scores are usable by many different employers or schools. Some tests have been created by the certain employer or school to test a specific area of computer skills, such as using complex statistics or graphical design programs, that most standard computer skills tests do not cover. Occasionally, a tester may be required to take many skills assessments, generally starting from the most basic skills and progressing through more complex or advanced topics.