The nonverbal reasoning module must always be administered first (in fact, the program forces this) and the verbal reasoning module next. Thereafter, it is recommended (but not absolutely essential) that the three LADS Plus tests are administered in the order in which they appear on the Tests menu: i.e. Word Recognition first, followed by Word Construction, and Working Memory last. This is because the requirements of the Word Recognition test are the easiest of the three to grasp, while those of the Working Memory test the hardest to grasp. This sequence allows persons being tested to become acclimatised to the test requirements and get used to the mental demands of the tasks in a less abrupt fashion.
LADS Plus only takes about 25 minutes, on average, to complete and has been designed to be done in one sitting although breaks can be taken between tests if necessary. It is strongly recommended that all five tests are completed as otherwise an automatic interpretation of results cannot be given by the program. In rare cases where an individual has not been able to complete all the tests (e.g. because they have become unwell or because of extreme anxiety) it is still possible to access the report but special care should be exercised when interpreting results — see Section 4.2.7.
All the tests in LADS Plus are mentally challenging and demand close concentration. Therefore, they should be administered in a quiet environment that is as free from distractions as possible. It is essential that persons taking the tests are able to hear the instructions and test words clearly. Unless the testing environment is a quiet one, this is best achieved by means of headphones. The Administrator should check that the headphones are working properly and that the sound level is suitable for the person being tested (neither too loud nor too quiet). Before a screening session, the supervisor should ensure that the computer monitor, keyboard and mouse are all working normally. Computer mice, in particular, need regular cleaning because they quickly become clogged with fluff and dirt, which adheres to the rollers that control horizontal and vertical movement of the mouse pointer. A dirty mouse mat or surface on which the mouse is being used, will exacerbate this. A malfunctioning mouse will interfere with the assessment and can make it very difficult for the individual being screened to respond properly within the time limits. The mouse should be opened regularly, the ball taken out and washed in warm soapy water and dried, and the rollers cleaned of any dirt (a cotton bud can be used for this). Computer mice are inexpensive items that should be replaced if they habitually malfunction even after cleaning.
Use of headphones is imperative when more than one person is being tested at the same time in the same room (e.g. in the case of group screening using a network), and special care should be taken to ensure that individuals do not distract others. Instructions should be given beforehand that if any person being tested requires assistance, s/he should put up their hand and wait for the Administrator to come to them. They should not call out for assistance as this may distract others.
Supervision of testing
One of the advantages of LADS Plus is that it can be self-administered, so reducing administrative load and time. The Administrator first should check that the person taking LADS Plus has entered their name and other details correctly on the registration screen (or the Administrator should take responsibility for entering these details). The person being tested should be told that the screening comprises five separate tests and takes about 25 minutes in all. The Administrator must decide (and inform the person being tested accordingly) whether they wish the person being tested to go though all the five tests in sequence and without a break, or whether they wish them to pause and wait for further instructions before proceeding to the next test. Once the Administrator is satisfied that the person is progressing satisfactorily with the tests, most adults can be left to go through the tests themselves, with only light supervision. However, there are five circumstances in which closer supervision by the Administrator is strongly advised:
- When the person being tested has never used a computer before.
- When testing more than one person at the same time in the same room (e.g. in group screening using a network). This is essential to prevent persons being tested deliberately or inadvertently distracting each another.
- When the person being tested is suspected of being of low ability (and so may require additional assistance to understand the requirements of the test).
- When the Administrator is concerned that the person being tested may not take the assessment seriously, and so may respond at random or not respond at all, and just wait for the automatic time out to take the program though the items until termination. Such behaviour would obviously invalidate the results of the screening; by watching the person it is possible to determine whether the person is doing this.
- When the person being tested seems to be excessively nervous or anxious about the assessment. Although this is extremely rare and most adults are not worried about doing computer-based tests, high levels of anxiety may interfere with cognitive functioning. The person may say things like “My mind has gone completely blank — I can’t think of anything at all” or even ‘freeze’ altogether. In such cases it is recommended that the person is reassured and allowed to calm down before starting. It may also be helpful to have the Administrator sit with them during the assessment, at least until they have got started on the tests, and to give breaks between the tests.
For information on how the Administrator can access results, please consult the LADS Plus Software User’s Guide, which is provided as a separate file on the LADS Plus CD. A password will be required. This is not only to prevent persons being tested from accessing other people’s results, but also to ensure that individuals being screened do not access their own results and misunderstand them.
It is recommended that the Administrator should access the results when the person who has been tested is not present. This allows the Administrator to print out the results, consider them carefully and then give proper feedback to the person, including, if necessary, advice on where to obtain further help and/or counselling. Results should not be given to the person who has been tested without careful consideration and proper feedback. These matters are explored more fully in Chapter 4.