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Pilot tests are “dress rehearsals” of full survey operations that are implemented to determine whether problems exist that need to be addressed prior to putting the production survey in the field. Traditional pilot tests are common and have been a part of the survey process since the 1940s. In recent years, by the time a pilot test is conducted, the questionnaire has frequently already undergone review (and revision) through expert review, focus groups, and/or cognitive interviews.

The terms pretest and pilot test are sometimes used interchangeably; however, in recent years pretest has taken on the meaning of testing within a survey laboratory, rather than in the field with the general population. Some organizations or survey researchers now refer to pilot tests as field pretests. Pilot testing ...

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