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Criterion Referenced Test and Normative Referenced Test

Test can be categorized into two major groups, namely Criterion Referenced Test
(CRT) AND Normative Referenced Test (NRT). CRT is usually used in making decisions
about job entry, certification, or licensure. The example of NRT is the test used in college
entrance or school entrance. This paper will describe the differences between these two
groups. The differences can be identified from their intended purposes, selection of test
content, item characteristics and score interpretation.
1) Intended Purpose
The purpose of CRT is to see what the individual or the test taker can do or what
she/he know, not to see how they compared to each other. They are determined whether
she/he has achieved specific skill which has been set in a particular curriculum. CRT is
also used to know the students knowledge before the instruction begins or after it has
The purpose of NRT is to discriminate the individuals through highlighting
achievement differences between and among individuals to produce a dependable rank
order of individuals across a continuum of achievement from high to low achievers. In
other words, this test has a purpose to rank each individual based on the achievement of
broad skill areas.
2) Selection of Test Content
The content of a CRT test is determined by how well it matches the learning outcomes
deemed most important. It measures specific skills which make up a designated
curriculum. These skills are identified by teachers and curriculum experts. In addition,
each skill is expressed as an instructional objective. Although no test can measure
everything of importance, the content selected for the CRT is selected on the basis of its
significance in the curriculum while that of the NRT is chosen by how well it
discriminates among students.
The content of an NRT test is selected according to how well it ranks students from
high achievers to low. It measures broad or basic skills areas sampled from a variety of
textbooks, syllabi, and the judgements of curriculum experts.
3) Item Characteristics
In CRT, there are at least 4 items which test each skill in order to acquire an adequate
sample of a students performance and to minimize the effect of guessing. The items
which test any given skill are parallel in difficulty. The average item difficulty is likely to

be fairly high since a majority of the test takers may be expected to demonstrate mastery,
both on the individual items and the overall test.
In NRT, each skill usually tested by less than four items. They are variated in
difficulty. They are selected that discriminate between high and low achievers. On the
other hand, In NRT, the average item difficulty is likely to be quite a bit lower, as the
items as a whole may be more difficult. Tests that have been designed in this way are
better able to spread out the test takers' scores and thus to provide a more reliable
ranking of the test takers relative to one another.
4) Score Interpretation
A students performance on NRT is interpreted in relation to the performance of a
large group with similar other students who took the same test. Each student will be
compared with others and assigned a score in which usually expressed as a percentile, a
grade equivalent score or a stanine. This test has its weakness and strength. The strength
of this test is that it eases the teacher to decide which students need remedial assistance
and ones who do not need. The weakness is that it does not give detailed information of
students achievement or about what the students know and can do. The weakness also
might be caused by the broad skill areas which the test only reports.
Unlike NRT, students who take CRT are compared with a preset standard for
acceptable achievement. In CRT, the other students are irrelevant value to be compared
with. Students score usually in the form of a percentage. For example: a student got 90%
on the test. It means that the student got 92% of the correct answer. Unlike CRT where the
90% means that the student did better than 92% of the other students. The strength of this
test is that it gives detailed information about how well a student has performed on each
of the educational goals or outcomes included on that test. As long as the content of the
test matches the content that is considered important to learn, the CRT gives the student,
the teacher, and the parent more information about how much of the valued content has
been learned than an NRT.
5) Reported Score
The other difference also can be seen from their reported scores. In CRT, the score is
reported in a simple classification decision which is the most commonly used by the
teacher who use this kind of test. The classification may indicate that the test takers are as
master or non-master or passed/failed.

In NRT, the score is often reported in the form of percentile ranks, or scale scores. The
score is used as the basis of ranking the test takers.

Assessing Young Children

The Differences between Normative Criterion Referenced Test


I Putu Gede Hendra Raharja


English Education Department

Faculty of Language and Art
Ganesha University of Education


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