Assessment design

Assessment design

Meeting display

Our research has improved understanding of how question features affect task difficulty and fairness. 

Such research feeds into the processes of question design and enhances the expertise of our assessment developers. Getting the design right ensures that assessment outcomes can be interpreted and used in the intended ways.

The principles for designing, administering and evaluating our assessments are captured in the Cambridge Approach.

Published materials

Related materials

Assessment without levels in depth - Tim Oates

Insight, 05 November 2014

A new and more in depth look at how the removal of levels in Primary education in England will open the door to deeper understanding, made in partnership with the Department for Education.

Audience perspectives on international education

Insight, 21 October 2014

Get a taster of the debate from our international education conference through the eyes of our speakers, delegates and education experts who contributed from around the world.

International platform for important educational debate

Insight, 17 October 2014

On 15 October 2014 Cambridge Assessment welcomed delegates across the world to debate International Education: Interpretation, importance and impact. The conference, hosted in Cambridge, was broadcast live to delegates taking part in seminars in Egypt, South Africa, India, Argentina and Mexico.

A Level Playing Field

Insight, 10 March 2014

Tim Oates argues that changing A Levels is easy – it’s just the wrong thing to do.

News Blog: Science and maths A Levels aren't broken, so don't fix them

News, 26 June 2014

All would agree that we need a population equipped with a better level of scientific and mathematical knowledge to meet the demands of a 21st century economy. What is less certain is that this is likely to be achieved by replacing the A Level system with a new baccalaureate qualification.

Reforming vocational education: plugging the skills gap

Insight, 28 January 2014

With nearly one million 16-24 year olds unemployed in the UK it is easy to see that there is some way to go to ensure that young people leaving the education system are appropriately prepared for the world of work.  


Sharing best practice (2:10)

A powerful lesson on how sharing expertise with others can enhance learning – delegate insights from Cambridge International Study Programme.

Just how closely should textbooks link to public examinations? (3:47)

Group Director of Assessment Research & Development, Tim Oates, called for a tightening of the linkage between textbooks and the aims and content of the curriculum and qualifications.

Teresa's story (3:06)

A previous Cambridge International Study Programme participant, Teresa Castanheira, shares her experiences from the course and the impact it has had on her personal and professional life.

Let's talk learning (5:35)

Learning comes first: shifting the focus from examining to the curriculum

International education: a view from Switzerland (6:05)

Christian Wölfle, Vice Principal at KV Zürich Business School, talks about the challenges and gains of fostering culturally aware and open future citizens from a vocational school point of view.

Technology in assessment (6:17)

Who's afraid of e-assessment; is the UK reluctant to abandon pen-and-paper tests?

International education: views from around the globe (2:16)

We take a brief journey around the globe to find out what International Education – the theme of the seventh Cambridge Assessment Conference - means to assessment professionals, educationalists, teachers and students around the world.

The effects of modular GCSE examinations on students’ outcomes, motivation and workload (2:29)

A study conducted by Cambridge Assessment revealed that the state-directed 'one size fits all' approach to the modularisation of GCSEs (both in favour and against) was flawed, giving justification for both linear and modular assessment routes to coexist.

Seminar: Findings from our HE engagement and A Level research (53:15)

Findings from our research on higher education engagement and A Levels

Assessment for Higher Education admissions (4:33)

Find out why tests used to help Higher Education institutions differentiate between top applicants should be fair, valid and transparent.


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Seminar: The Cambridge Assessment Archives - not just an historical treasures (31.4MB)

Gillian Cooke and Andrew Watts examine the role of the Corporate Archives from the organisation’s beginnings as the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate in 1858 and through subsequent years of continuity and change.

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Seminar: Textbooks and public examinations (25.6MB)

Tim Oates (Cambridge Assessment) and Dr Mary Bousted (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) discuss.

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Seminar: Research methods in action - using the CRAS framework and Kelly's Repretory Grid technique (29.7MB)

How do researchers use the CRAS framework and Kelly's Repretory Grid technique in assessment research studies - Martin Johnson (Cambridge Assessment)

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Seminar: Developing a new linear qualification (37.9MB)

Developing a new linear qualification: how difficult can it be? A case study: Cambridge Pre-U - Mark Dowling, Di Palmer and Val Sismey (Cambridge International Examinations) - 16 May 2011

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Seminar: Findings from our HE engagement and A Level research (24.2MB)

Findings from our research on higher education engagement and A Levels

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Seminar: Alternative approaches for assessing science practical skills (16.1MB)

No Irish potatoes? Try yams – looking at alternative approaches for assessing science practical skills - Liz Burns (Cambridge International Examinations) - 25 May 2010

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.

Research Matters 28: Autumn 2019