Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing interview

Center for Preparatory Studies Senior management team had a series of productive meetings with Cambridge Assessment Testing representatives in the June of 2022.
We had a uniques chance to ask Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing Head of Department- Andy Chamberlain interesting questions about NUET exam and overall partnership with CPS.

What is CAAT? What is its mission? 
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing sits within Cambridge University Press and Assessment which is a non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge.
Our vision is to enable fair access to opportunities in education and employment around the world with tests that provide a fair measure of skills and aptitude.

What steps are involved in creating entrance exams like the NUET?
Key to developing entrance tests is an understanding of the context and requirements of our partners. We have worked with Nazarbayev University for 7 years and – although the basic requirements have not changed – we have developed and refined our understanding of our partner’s needs in order to build and deliver the tests.

Once a format of the tests has been agreed, we commission external item (question) writers to provide test items that match our specification. Our internal subject experts oversee a process of review and editing – sometimes 2 or 3 phases long – to refine the items into a live exam test.
This process often takes more than a year from the commissioning stage to the live test.

At the same time, we also consult with our partners at NU on how we will deliver the test. This involves the dates and timings for the tests, the venues and the instructions we give to the candidates on the day of the test. We also work with NU to help train the test centre invigilators and staff; particularly if anything has changed from year-to-year.

Once the tests are taken, we mark the tests and then analyse the results for release to NU and also then to inform how we can improve them for the next round. Then the cycle begins again….
Briefly, what would you say to a candidate who asks you how to prepare for the NUET?
It's really important to familiarise yourself with the test content so you get an idea of the types of questions that may come up in the test so there are no surprises on the exam day.

In addition, I suggest trying to do some practice questions under time pressure so that you have a sense of how quickly you can get work through them. Remember that there’s no negative marking in the NUET so if you get stuck on a question, just move on and come back to it at the end if there’s time.

How does working in Kazakhstan compare to your work in other countries?
First of all there are many similarities. Our tests have a lot of value attached to them, so we take our responsibilities very seriously. Communication with our partners - in the case of Kazakhstan; the team at the Center for Preparatory Studies at NU – is a prerequisite and the pre-planning and post review to see what can be improved is replicated across stakeholders in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and so on.

We’ve never worked anywhere quite as cold as Kazakhstan though.

What has been the most interesting and/or rewarding aspect of the partnership with NU?
I think the most rewarding part of the work has to be the impact that the tests have in being able to allow NU to differentiate between their applicants in a fair and transparent way and in knowing that all the hard work, planning and review has value.

It's also been very rewarding to develop relationships with the NU CPS team over several years.

From a personal perspective, the chance to visit Kazakhstan, experience its culture (for example being able to visit the National Museum) and cuisine, has been a real highlight. I also know that colleagues have really appreciated the working relationship and also the chance to visit cities right across the country.