Behavioral avoidance test



Behavioral avoidance test (BAT) is a common analogue test performed to assess fears. The tests identify self-imposed variables and environmental variables permitting participants to maintain their maladaptive feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. In addition, the test helps behavior therapists identify the type of behavior therapy or technique that can best improve the individual. Cochrane and Holmes explain that behavioral avoidance test assesses specific phobias with an objective of measuring clinical progress that follows treatment such as exposure therapy. Problems already analyzed using BAT include intimacy among couples, substance abuse, insomnia, obesity, depression, chronic distress alcoholic anorexia, fears, and obesity (Cochrane et al., 2008). Behavioral therapists use behavioral avoidance tests (BAT) to test on four areas including stimulus, organism, response, and consequences. Stimulus is a trigger by environment and condition, which cause certain behavior. Organism is a person’s internal response such as psychological responses, cognition, and emotions. Responses are behaviors exhibited by a person, while consequences are results of identified behaviors (Tobin, 2001).

Test Formats

Formats of conducting behavioral assessment tests include objective assessment methods such as structured interviews, objective psychological tests, and behavioral rating forms. The assessments are useful in determining the exact problem of the client and establish baselines for present maladaptive responses of clients. After identification, therapy continues to check the progress of the client. Format tests available include five-item Likert format with choices such as none, a little, some, much and very much (Tobin, 2001).

Score Reports

Coping strategies inventory is a self-report questionnaire involving 72-items for assessing coping thoughts and behaviors in response to specific stressor. Participants are required to describe events and circumstances of stressful episodes, such as one that precipitates headaches. After description, the participants are requested to respond to 72 questions in a five-item Likert format (Tobin, 2001). The respondents indicate the extent of performing particular coping response while dealing with situations described previously.


Norms are situations that trouble people daily. They include trying to get new angles of the situation, attempting to find new ways to blow off steam, accepting sympathy, and understanding from someone, concentrated on the next step and sleeping more than usual. More norms include hoping that the problem will take care of itself, meditating that if I was not careless I would not have experienced some things, trying to accommodate my feelings, changing things expecting them to turn right, and trying to look at the brighter side of things. Moreover, norms include doing things to get out of my system, finding somebody who is a good listener, moving on as if there was nothing happening, hoping for a miracle to happen, realizing that I caused my own problems, and spending more time alone (Tobin, 2001). More norms include standing on my ground and fighting for what I wanted, telling myself better things to boost my self-esteem, letting off my emotions and talking to someone about my feelings. More norms include trying to forget the whole thing, wishing that I did not let myself involved in the situation, blaming myself, getting involved with my family and friends, making a plan action and following it. Finally, attempting to reduce stress by letting my feelings go, spending more time with people I liked, refusing to think much about disappointing experiences, wishing that situations would go away and avoiding being with people.

Type of scores obtained

Raw scores are obtained by adding Likert responses of each items such as problem solving, cognitive restructuring, express emotions, social support, problem avoidance, wishful thinking, self-criticism, social withdrawal, in particular subscale together. Raw scale scores are obtained from primary subscales. Secondary and tertiary subscale scores are obtained by adding together primary scales making up the specific subscale. For example, secondary subscale items such as problem focused engagement are obtained by adding problem solving plus cognitive restructuring. Emotion focused engagement is obtained by adding social support and express emotions. Problem focused disengagement is obtained by adding problem avoidance and wishful thinking. Emption focused disengagement is obtained by adding social withdrawal and self- criticism (Tobin, 2001). Tertiary subscale scores in engagement is obtained by adding problem focused change and emotion focused engagement. Disengagement is obtained by adding problem focused stasis and emotion focused disengagement.


While conducting tests behavioral therapists are requested to write test items clearly and simply. Identification of opinions of author if particular opinions are represented, clear and unambiguous directions are written for the test at specific sections of the test. The disadvantage is that there has to be an expert to give directions and clarify them to respondents.

Test items

Test items include objective test item (multi choice, true false, matching), performance test item, essay test item (extended response), fill in the blank test items (completion tests), and essay test item (short answer). Objective tests are made up of multiple choices, matching, fill-in, true/false and short answer items. Objective tests are advantageous because they allow instructors to assess large and representative samples of course material. They measure most learning types and allow scoring of reliable and efficient tests. Objective tests have a disadvantage of emphasizing only on recognition skills such as the ease of guessing correct answers and the inability nature of measuring organization and synthesis of students.

Multiple choice test items have the stem that identifies the problem and question as well as response alternatives and choices. The participants are supposed to one alternative that completes that answers the question, multiple choice items test the ability of recalling memorized information, applying theory to routine cases, apply theory to novel situations, use judgment in analyzing and evaluating. The advantages are that they are very effective, versatile at all levels, they reducing guessing, cover wide range of content and require minimal writing that is appropriate for students. The disadvantage is that it is often difficult to construct good test items, and come up with alternative responses (Clay, 2001).

Answer Sheets

Gates-MacGinitie reading tests (GMRT) and answer sheet are machine scored with advantages such as reusing test booklets, and are accurate since they are computer based. Hand-scored GMRT answer sheet have advantages of having to reuse test booklets. The scores are available immediately after testing. Self-scorable answer sheet have advantages of having to reuse test booklet, they are easy, economical and accurate in scoring. In addition, the scores are available after testing. Test booklets have advantages of short and simple directions for administering tests and students must not handle separate answer sheet. Teachers are capable of seeing right and wrong answers marked by each student. The scores are available after testing (MacGinitie et al., 2000).

True-false test items

True-false test items offer only two possible responses in each item for respondents to choose. True-false questions test ability of respondents to recall and comprehend. Respondents can answer many questions, covering great content in short amount of time. They take little time to write and are easy to score. True-false test items minimize offensive content and language because it forces respondents to choose between choices given. The respondents must answer either true or false with no space of clarification on answers given. All verbal knowledge is expressed in prepositions (MacGinitie et al., 2000).

Matching Test Items

Matching test items consist of stem and responses columns. This minimizes offensive language by keeping matching items brief and limited to ten items. Only short phrases and single words are written in the response list. The responses are kept short and simple, arranged in systematic order. No multiple correct responses are availed for one stem. The set of items are limited to one page thus no space provided for abusive language (MacGinitie et al., 2000).

Essay Test Items

Essay test items allow accommodations and modifications since respondents are requested to agree and disagree by supporting a thesis using evidences. The method allows analysis, classification, and division. Analysis allows modification since respondents can pick a part of the whole. Classification and division allows grouping of items into categories to consistent principle. Essay test items allow respondents to compare and contrast information identifying the causes and effects. Respondents are asked to define, give examples, describe, discuss, illustrate, and summarize (MacGinitie et al., 2000).

Computer based testing

Computer-based testing is used for scoring objective test items. Its main aim is to reduce costly procedures taken when scoring multiple choice tests. It produces reliable results than earlier hand scored tests. Computer systems are used during delivery of results and answers, scoring and reporting (Parhizgar, 2012).

Computer adaptive testing

CAT presents testers with one test item at single times, which continues after answering correctly to previous questions. Common CAT instruments include Micro CAT and FastTEST. CAT program have large item bank, which enables it to match with the needs of testers. Test security is increased since tests are not repeated (Parhizgar, 2012).

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Web-based testing

Web-based testing has multiple choice items, C-tests, completion tests, discourse and reading comprehension tests accompanied with video files and sound. Web-based tests are flexible in design because of frames representing texts, audio and video as well as images at the same time. Users can access help from the web databases, libraries that are constantly updated. The results are immediately sent to score users (Parhizgar, 2012).

Synthesis of findings

CAT saves time and resources because it reduces response items. Immediate results are improved since it has the capability of distinguishing learners with high or low capabilities. However, it is time consuming and costly to provide huge items in the item bank. Computer based tests removes constraints of administering tests including fixed delivery dates and locations. CBT is user friendly since the tests give feedback and track the performance. CBT is an adaptive approach testing. The two disadvantages of CBT are that it allows restricted items and has difficulties in assessing highly productive skills of writing, speaking, and writing. Web-based testing sends test results immediately to score users and is cheap to concerned parties. However, web based testing faces the risk of hacker breakage to steal information and place viruses in computer systems.

Conclusions and recommendations

Most researchers have moved from traditional methods of conducting tests and have embraced technology based tests such as web-based testing. The reasons are that technology based methods collect large information from anywhere in the world and give feedback immediately to respondents. Moreover, help icons in case of clarification are available in the desktop which reduces transport costs of researchers as they travel to various destinations. Moreover, they are fast unlike handwritten tests and store messages in their databases which can be easily retrieved.

Evaluate your selected test based on the strengths and weaknesses, and advantages and disadvantages of the test items, materials, and their appropriateness.

Web-based testing is the best in the world today since technology is everywhere and available at any location. People can take tests at any time and place they choose. Web tests are flexible in their design because they display texts, images, in video and audio forms simultaneously. Users access help through help icon on the desktop. There are additional facilities such as databases, libraries that are constantly updated/ test results are immediately sent to score users. Web designs are afforded at cheaper prices to all persons.

Make at least three recommendations about improvements that could be considered to improve the test, if applicable. Cite standards (AERA) to support each recommendation.

Web-based tests could be improved by increasing the downloading speed to enable answering many questions. Security measure is a critical point requiring attention from software manufacturers. Installing stronger security items such as firewalls and antivirus will reduce attacks to computer systems, which cause destruction of data. Installing encryption keys is of paramount importance to authorize persons using specific networks.

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  1. Clay, B. (2001). Is this a trick question. A Short Guide to Writing Effective Test Questions, 1-69.
  2. Cochrane, A., Barnes-Holmes, D., &Barnes-homes, Y. (2008).The perceived threat behavioral approach test (PT-BAT): Measuring avoidance in high, mid, and lo spider-fearful participants. The Psychological Record, 58, 585-596.
  3. MacGinitie, W., MacGinitie, R., Maria, K., & Dreyr, L. (2000). Gates-MacGinitie reading tests. Directions for Administration, 1-80.
  4. Parhizgar, S. (2012). Testing and technology: past, present and future. Theory And Practice In Language Studies, 2 (1), 174-178.
  5. Tobin, D. (2001). User manual for the coping strategies inventory.
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