The purpose of this paper is to review some of the key literature on response time as it has played a role in cognitive ability measurement, providing a historical perspective as well as covering current research. We discuss the speed-level distinction, dimensions of speed and level in cognitive abilities frameworks, speed–accuracy tradeoff, approaches to addressing speed–accuracy tradeoff, analysis methods, particularly item response theory-based, response time models from cognitive psychology (ex-Gaussian function, and the diffusion model), and other uses of response time in testing besides ability measurement. We discuss several new methods that can be used to provide greater insight into the speed and level aspects of cognitive ability and speed–accuracy tradeoff decisions. These include item-level time limits, the use of feedback (e.g., CUSUMs), explicit scoring rules that combine speed and accuracy information (e.g., count down timing), and cognitive psychology models. We also review some of the key psychometric advances in modeling speed and level, which combine speed and ability measurement, address speed–accuracy tradeoff, allow for distinctions between response times on items responded to correctly and incorrectly, and integrate psychometrics with information-processing modeling. We suggest that the application of these models and tools is likely to advance both the science and measurement of human abilities for theory and applications.
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