by / Monday, 05 May 2014 / Published in Wetenschap

The Dutch Committee on Tests and Testing (COTAN) is part of the NIP (Dutch Association of Psychologists “Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen”)  and audits the quality of psychological tests that are available for use in the Netherlands and raises standards in the use of psychological tests.  The COTAN’s activities include monitoring psychological instruments  that are applied in settings like schools, human resource management, (mental) health care services and promoting the proper use of assessment instruments.

How does COTAN evaluate the quality of a test?

The COTAN rates tests on 7 criteria:

  • Quality of the testing materials
  • Comprehensiveness of the manual
  • Norms
  • Reliability
  • Construct validity
  • Criterion validity

For each of these criteria, a test is given a score of ‘insufficient’, ‘complete’, or ‘good’. A test will receive an ‘insufficient’ if information is not missing or is seen as not qualitatively good enough.

What does the COTAN review say?

If a test is rated by COTAN, it does not automatically mean that the test is good (contrary to what some people think). It is only to say that there has been a review of the seven criteria. If you want a test user to know whether a test is suitable to use for your purposes, then it is advisable to request the COTAN assessment and study it properly. It is good to bear in mind that a score of ‘insufficient’ on a criterion or several criteria does not necessarily mean that the test is useless. Also true that a good number of good reviews does not necessarily mean that an instrument is always useful. Do you find it difficult to assess whether a test is suitable for your purposes? Then you should contact a specialist in the field of psychological tests for advice (a psychologist).

Research for the COTAN review

Because we must provide a lot of research data for a COTAN assessment, we ask candidates to fill in a few questions (such as birth date, location, some work and educational experience). This extra information is sometimes relevant to the results of the test (it might influence which norm group is used) but more often it is used only for validating the test itself and not shared back to the person administering the test. In addition, we often look for volunteers to fill in questionnaires to collect data. If you are interested in participating in one of our studies, send an email to for more information!


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