Assessment tools: the ultimate guide to select the right assessment tool

If you’ve ever tried searching Google for an “assessment tool”, I’m sure you discovered that the search results are confusing. Assessment tools have been around for ages, but in the last decade, the term got a couple of new meanings.

And while there are a ton of resources around, there isn’t a single article that helps you filter out and select the right tool for what you need. Until today!

But first, we need a clear definition of what an assessment is.

What is an assessment (tool)?

An assessment refers to the process of evaluating a person or a situation. based on the available information surrounding that subject. This judgment is done by a series of questions with a score or categorization that returns some results.

This definition is very generic, though. You can differentiate the assessment’s purpose based on context. (Think: human resources, recruitment, marketing, education, finance, etc.)

An assessment tool is software that helps you set up such an assessment and analyze the results.

  • The term “assessment tool” is often used to describe the assessment methodology. A methodology is a way of assessing the subject based on a specific theory or framework.
    • A well-known assessment methodology in personality testing is the Myers-Briggs type indicator, where an assessment will assign one of 16 existing personality types or stereotypes to the respondent. The personality types are based on extraversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judgment versus perception.
    • Another widely-used methodology is the DISC assessment. It’s a personality test which states that each person scores on four personality styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Based on their score, a respondent gets assigned one of the four personality types, which are often associated with colors as red, blue, green, and yellow.
  • An assessment tool can also be used to execute the assessment either digitally or with pen and paper. The latter can be simple and is often used in educational settings. Yes/No cards, Thumbs up/down, Mind mapping are all examples of formative assessment tools.

In this article, we will focus on the digital assessment tools (= assessment software), more specifically on how you should select digital assessment tools depending on your specific needs.

The most significant confusion in choosing an assessment tool is that some tools are linked to a specific methodology, such as software specifically created for DISC assessments. Moreover, some vendors also mix services and software into bundled offerings, such as HR services, in combination with assessments.

For this article, we’ll focus only on selecting the right digital assessment tool (assessment software), independently of the assessment methodology or any associated services.

Selecting the right assessment tool

There are two primary questions you should ask yourself when selecting the right assessment software. Based on these identifiers, you’ll find useful links and a suggestion of tools for your specific needs in the overview below.

1. Is the context of your assessment for schools/universities or businesses?

In a professional setting, business assessments can evolve around learning and coaching, recruitment, diagnostics, and progress measuring or marketing.

In a school/university setting, assessments evolve around learning and personal progress. They can be formative, summative, objective, or subjective. Read more on each specific approach for teacher assessments here.

If you’re looking to create an assessment for a non-profit or government institution, we suggest looking at solutions made for business assessments. These are more likely to contain the features that you’ll be needing.

!! Keep an extra eye out for reporting. Especially if you want to create business assessments. Most assessment tools offer you aggregated reports. (Which means you get an overview or average of 100 responses for example). Like this one:

For the business-type of assessments, it’s necessary to offer individualized reporting. Personalized assessment reports, based on the results of one specific respondent. Reports that are generated right after the respondent fills out the assessment.

These customized reports allow you to return value by giving immediate feedback like the 360° assessment report below. The report adds value by providing personalized tips based on the respondent’s specific profile.

2. What’s the goal of your assessment?

The objective of your assessment can vary from educational purposes, to measuring progress, to evaluating candidates for a vacancy (recruitment), or even to generating leads (marketing).

Based on the context of your assessment, these are the most common goals for creating an assessment. Find the right assessment tool for your goal in the paragraphs below.

A. Business – HR learning and coaching
B. Business – HR recruitment
C. Business – Professional services
D. Business – Marketing
E. Schools/Universities – Learning

Most of the available assessment software tools focus on the educational type of assessments. They are usually very affordable but are rarely useful for any other purpose than evaluating students. On the other end, there are business assessment tools. These often come at a high cost or can only be used with a specific methodology or purchased in combination with services.

With the list of tools and resources for each category, we wanted to offer you “the in-between”. Affordable, standalone tools (like Pointerpro 😉 ) that you can sign up for today, independently of the methodology you use and not linked to any consulting services you need to purchase. This list is a complete overview of the features you need for your specific goals and audience.

Assessment tools for: A. HR learning and coaching assessments (business)

This type of assessment exists to measure a person’s capabilities in a professional environment. Either to decide on hiring a new employee or to measure their knowledge and skills while on the job.

For example:

An HR manager wants to improve team dynamics of an existing department. By using a DISC assessment, they determine the different personality types currently in the team and how their roles or current responsibilities could be better divided.

Functionalities needed:

When you start looking for the right tool, pay attention to these features:

  • Custom scoring with formulas which allows you to make advanced calculations
  • Score weighing and scoring per question block to emphasize on the score for specific question blocks or questions
  • Email invitations with personalization
  • Variable end messages based on the score
  • Personalized report for respondent (downloadable in PDF)
  • Results and progress per respondent in a dashboard
  • Result visualization in a spider graph, pie chart & other types of visualization

Online assessment tools for (HR) learning and coaching:

  1. Pointerpro ($)
    The most reviewed and #1 rated assessment software for SMBs on Capterra. It lets you build assessments & entire learning campaigns. Using the advanced formulas and personalized outcomes will help both you and the respondent get deeper insights.
  2. ProProfs Assessment Software ($)
    Offers a reliable assessment solution to HR managers. They can create online assessments required for employee onboarding and training. With 100+ assessment templates, 100,000+ ready-to-use questions, automated grading, and more.
  3. Talentsoft ($$)
    With a focus on collaboration between HR, managers, and employees, this talent management system helps employee growth through blended learning & testing.
  4. Docebo LMS ($$$)
    This learning platform is built to train employees with a combination of formal, social and experiential tests to maximize learner performance.

B. HR recruitment assessments (business)

A recruiting assessment tool helps examine whether a person has the right profile and capabilities for the job they’re applying to. These tools can be found as stand-alone applications or as a built-in feature of a recruiting CRM.

For example:

A recruiter wants to assess the skill set and professional personality traits of a job candidate. They want to get all the necessary information in a dashboard that points out the most important results. Additionally, they’d like the applicant to receive a report with insights. This report with results and remarks can be used as a starting point for a follow-up conversation. (Learn more about this specific example with this competency assessments case study.)

Functionalities needed:

When you start looking for the right tool, these features will be useful to look out for.

  • Custom scoring with formulas to add a specific score to questions and make advanced calculations
  • Question logic skip irrelevant questions or ask follow-up questions based on a chosen answer
  • Score weights and scoring per question block to put more emphasis on the score for specific question blocks or questions
  • Personalized report for respondent (downloadable in pdf)
  • Results per respondent
  • Question pool & randomization
  • Integration with other tools to export responses

Online assessment tools for HR recruitment:

  1. Pointerpro ($)
    The software lets you build self-assessments and quizzes that return personalized information. Results per respondent make it easy to compare applicants. Using the advanced formulas and personalized PDF reports will help both you and the respondent get deeper insights.
  2. Vervoe ($$)
    Vervoe is a hiring platform that uncovers hidden talent through real-world tests, tasks, and tools designed by industry experts.
  3. Harver ($$$)
    This pre-employment assessment platform uses scientifically validated assessments and situational judgment tests with a realistic job preview. Their AI algorithm measures a candidate’s aptitude, culture fit, soft skills and ability to succeed.

C. Professional services assessments (business)

With these business assessments, you can analyze progress and check diagnostics for a company or subdivision to define improvements.

For example:

A consulting agency offers courses and services to make your business more profitable. To build an action plan, they assess the current state of their client with a maturity assessment for example. Both the agency and the client receive the outcome and discuss steps forward.

Ideally, a PDF report with insights and suggested improvements is auto-generated and sent to the client to help them in reaching a decision.

Functionalities needed:

When you start looking for the right tool, these features will be useful to look out for.

  • White label option to have everything in your company branding with company URL and reporting. And even send out email invitations from a white label email address
  • Custom scoring with formulas to add a specific score to questions and make advanced calculations
  • Question logic to skip irrelevant questions or ask follow-up questions based on a chosen answer
  • Score weights and scoring per question block to put more emphasis on the score for specific question blocks or questions
  • Automatic emails after taking the assessment that offer deeper insights and invite respondents to stay in touch
  • Personalized report for respondent (Preferably downloadable in PDF)
  • Integration with other tools such as payment systems (e.g. Stripe) to sell assessments to your clients.

Online assessment tools for professional services:

  1. Pointerpro ($)
    The software lets you build interactive, personalized maturity assessments. Using the advanced formulas, score weighing and personalized PDF reports will help you get deeper insights. Additionally, you offer your respondent additional value in the shape of a report with tailor-made bits of advice.
  2. ($$)
    The platform provides advanced features that can be used to streamline any data collection processes, at the office or in the field, that use forms to capture data.

*This category only lists two assessment tools to start working with. At this time, we couldn’t find any additional software tools that offer the functionalities you need for this type of assessments. A simple Google search will offer you a lot of options, but all of these are in combination with additional services or offer an assessment tool built for only one type of assessment (a risk assessment for example).

D. Marketing assessments (business)

Marketing assessments are a type of interactive content that can be used for multiple goals such as moving a prospect to the next stage in the sales funnel, building a subscriber list or simply increasing engagement on site.

For example:

A marketer embeds an assessment on their website. Visitors can take the assessment, the result is a personalized outcome with the possibility of getting more detailed insights and additional tips and tricks. To get access to the extras, the respondent leaves their email in return for a personalized PDF report. So the visitor gets insights and value, the marketer gets an email and insights as well. (Read more about this example in this Boot Camp Digital case study.)

Functionalities needed:

When you start looking for the right tool, these features might be useful to look out for.

  • White label option to have everything in your company branding with company URL and reporting. And even send out email invitations from a white label email address
  • Interactive elements such as piping to reuse previously given answers in follow-up questions
  • Skip logic to skip irrelevant questions or to ask follow-up questions based on a chosen answer
    Smart screens in between questions with tips or other useful information
  • Easy to embed or integrate into your website, blog, … (e.g. with an Iframe)
  • Flexible in design
    Variable end message based on the score of the respondent
  • Automatic emails after taking the assessment that offer deeper insights and invite respondents to take the next step in the funnel
  • Downloadable PDF to increase value (whitepaper, ebook, coupon, insights, …)
    Integrations with other tools to transfer respondent data

Online assessment tools for Marketing:

  1. Pointerpro ($)
    The software lets you build interactive assessments that help collect emails, guide prospects down the sales funnel and that return valuable information to the respondent.
  2. ClickFunnels ($$)
    This funnel builder allows you to create flows that help guide new prospects deeper down the sales funnel. Part of the software allows you to build interactive content very similar to marketing assessments we talk about in the article.
  3. Snapapp ($$$)
    SnapApp lets you build branded question-based interactions to uncover intent. It features templates, asset libraries, design tools, and global account settings to speed your time-to-market.

E. School/University assessments (education & learning)

This assessment scenario works for students in a school or university environment. It’s used to gauge the progress of a student compared to their learning objectives.

For example:

A teacher launches a short assessment that students can take on their pc, testing whether or not they grasp the theory.

Functionalities needed:

When you start looking for the right tool, these features will be useful to look out for.

  • Question randomization and question pool
  • Final score with a percentage
  • Real-time results to show the answers during a presentation in the classroom
  • Custom results per respondent that allow you to automatically give one-to-one recommendations, etc.
  • Answer explanation per question, not only to give the correct answer but to explain why it is the correct answer.
  • A personal portal where all tests per student are combined
  • Assessment sequences over time to track progress

Online assessment tools for learning:

  1. BookWidgets ($)
    Their tool lets you create interactive exercises and automatically graded test. Ideal and easy to use within any classroom. (Note: If you’re planning on making more advanced assessments, this tool might not be the right choice for you.)
  2. Socrative ($$)
    The Socrative app is built for playful classroom engagement. It helps with student learning, quizzes, polls, and assessments.
  3. LoveMySkool ($$$)
    This tool allows collaboration between educators, students, and parents and makes a constructive impact on learning outcomes.

That’s it! Everything you need to know to select the right assessment tool. 🙂

There are, of course, loads of tools and services out there. For this list, I selected the ones that I feel can help you in building what you need without much additional hassle or obligations. If you think I missed an essential one, let me know in the comments!

By the way, you’ll have noticed that Pointerpro is listed quite often… That’s because assessments are our thing! Each of the scenarios and goals listed above can be achieved with an assessment built in our tool. Want to learn more? Get in touch!

The best assessment software has these 4 characteristics

  • Custom scoring
    Custom scoring allows you to add a value to each answer option. You can calculate scores for the entire assessment or split it up in as many categories as you want.
  • User-friendly interface
    Find an assessment tool with a user-friendly interface. This will enable you to create an assessment that is easy to use, both for you and the respondent. It should be easy for the respondent to fill in the assessment, and it should facilitate you to collect results and communicate them with both your team and your respondents.
  • Immediate personalized feedback
    With an automatic PDF generator you can provide the respondent with a personalized feedback report based on their individual answers, immediately at the end of the assessment. Choose a tool that gives you the freedom to design your style and enables you to alternate between solid and variable text, graphs, and images, based on the answers of your respondent.
  • Fully branded and white labeled assessments
    Remove any reference to the assessment tool brand name. This will enable you to add your own brand colors, fonts and logos. This is called a white label solution. You can even brand the URLs, PDF reports, dashboards and assessment editor.

Is an assessment tool worth the investment?

People love to be the star of their own story. Assessments tap into this need and help visitors figure out how they stack up against peers, industry standards or best practices.

Assessments can be used for multiple purposes. You can build lead generation assessments, maturity assessments, personality assessments, 360° assessments, competency quizzes, self-assessments, or quote calculators and many, many more.

The investment in an interactive assessment is worth it, it takes less time and money to make than webinars or e-books and they produce a higher conversation rate. You can even save time by reusing content. With an assessment, you offer your potential clients a fun experience that creates a foundation and possibility for a strong, long-term, personal relationship.

Not to mention, you learn more about your audience because you gather more profile data from the responses than from a regular standard opt-in paper.

You also get to know the personalities of your potential customers, their likes and dislikes, their concerns, or goals. That’s where you can introduce your product as a solution to their problems.

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About the author:
Sofie Nelen

Sofie Nelen

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this article. It does a superb job of clarifying the various types of assessment tools, and has helped me to focus my search and evaluation activities!

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