Evaluate Exams Quality and Integrity

By Rex Black  |  Posted 2010-08-28 Print this article Print

Evaluate exam's quality and integrity

When evaluating whether or not an exam properly assesses someone's qualifications, you need the answers to the following four questions:

1. Is the exam statistically valid and can the certification body prove validity?

2. Is the exam a quality instrument free from grammatical and spelling errors, formatting problems and other glitches that might distract exam takers? What process does the certification body use to ensure quality?

3. Is the exam of uniform difficulty and quality whenever and wherever it is administered? How does the certification body accomplish uniformity?

4. Since exam questions are developed by people, what steps does the certification body use to ensure the integrity of the exams? In other words, what steps does it use to ensure that the questions are not leaked to candidates, onto the Internet or to accredited training providers?

This last point of accredited training providers brings us to an important consideration. It is certainly valuable to have training available to support certification programs. Accrediting training-whereby the certification body checks the content of the training to ensure compliance with and coverage of the syllabus-can help busy IT professionals and IT managers to narrow their search for quality training.

However, you are not looking at a real certification when the accreditation process is opaque, when only members of the certification body offer accredited training or, worse yet, when accredited training is required to take an exam. In these cases, what you are looking at is a marketing vehicle for some company's or cartel's training programs. You should pick certification programs that have open, transparent processes for accreditation. They should have a diverse, competitive field of training providers and should not require any training at all to take their exams.

Rex Black is President of RBCS. Rex is also the immediate past president of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board and the American Software Testing Qualifications Board. Rex has published six books, which have sold over 50,000 copies, including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Hebrew and Russian editions. Rex has written over thirty articles, presented hundreds of papers, workshops and seminars, and given over fifty speeches at conferences and events around the world. Rex may be reached at rex_black@rbcs-us.com.

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