Sunday, December 9, 2012

MTurk qualification tests

What are Amazon MTurk qualification tests?

One thing that pretty much every turker comes across sooner or later are the MTurk qualification tests.  These are set by the requester and are generally a way for them to restrict the turkers who do their HITs, essentially by trying to weed out workers who lack certain qualities or skills.  The qualification tests are in addition to the other restrictions that the requesters can impose, such as minimum HIT acceptance rates and nationality.

What do the tests involve?

There is no set answer to this question as there are numerous types of qualification test.  It all depends on which skills or attributes that the requester is looking for.  The test will in most cases reflect this in the form it takes.  For example, if the requester wants to assess your English language skills, you might be given a series of sentences and asked to judge which ones are grammatically correct.

Some tests are as simple as just pressing a button, or answering a yes or no question.  Other qualification tests can involve elaborate tasks which are difficult and time-consuming.  Of course, if you spend a long time taking a difficult and time-consuming test and ultimately you are told you have failed, it can be very frustrating.

Should I take an Amazon MTurk qualification test?

Generally speaking, I would say yes in the majority of cases.  As I mentioned earlier, many of the tests are very easy, and even if they aren’t, you haven’t got too much to lose from trying, apart from your time. 

Don’t take a test if you clearly don’t fit the criteria, however.  If the HIT involves translating text into German and you don’t speak German, then common sense dictates that the test will be checking your German language skills and it isn’t worth taking.

Some tests will also fail you for things that you can’t control, such as where you live.

The advantage of taking tests is that if you succeed, they can sometimes open the door to you doing some of the (relatively) better paid HITs.