Applying the minimax principle to sequential mastery testing

Hans J. Vos

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This paper derives optimal rules for sequential mastery tests. In a sequential mastery test, the decision is to classify a subject as a master or a nonmaster or to continue sampling and administering another random item. The framework of minimax sequential decision theory (minimum information approach) is used; that is, optimal rules are obtained by minimizing the maximum expected losses associated with all possible decision rules at each stage of sampling. The main advantage of this approach is that costs of sampling can be explicitly taken into account. The binomial model is assumed for the probability of a correct response given the true level of functioning, and threshold loss is adopted for the loss function involved. Monotonicity conditions are derived, conditions sufficient for optimal rules to be in the form of sequential cutting scores. The paper concludes with the description of a simulation study in which the minimax sequential strategy is compared with other procedures that exist for similar classification decision problems in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherUniversity of Twente
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Publication series

NameOMD Research Report
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Faculty of Educational Science and Technology


  • Test construction
  • Mastery tests
  • Sampling


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