Certification examination content – our most valuable asset

Developing high-quality certification examination items takes more than an understanding of the objectives and subject knowledge. High-performing items result from expertise in the item writing process. We want to know that our certification examination items are assessing what they’re intended to assess.

Writing certification examination items

Writing high-quality certification examination items is both an art and a science. Items must be crafted so that the response elicited from certification candidates reflects their ability. The Certiport content development team is expert in several item types and formats. Our content managers work closely with subject matter experts (SMEs) to create certification examination items from the tasks listed in the objective domain. The items typically contain a single, complete task or ask a candidate to recall or apply knowledge related to the objective. Items are designed in such a way that they do not mislead or cue the candidate in how to complete the task. We also have to be attentive to our wording for future localization needs.

Finding the right item types

Our content managers, along with the subject matter experts, decide which item type is best suited for assessing the knowledge, skill, or ability that an item is intended to measure. They choose from a variety of item types including multiple choice, multiple selection, hotspot, matching/drag and drop, sequencing/list and order, fill-in-the-blank and case-based sets or simulations of the application. In addition, Certiport also offers industry-leading assessments of skills and knowledge through our Live-in-the-Application functionality, giving students and professionals real-world exercises to assess their understanding of the application.

Writing and reviewing the items

The content managers train the subject matter experts in how to write items of the specific types used on a certification examination. After the SME writes an item, the content managers review it to ensure that it meets good item writing standards, is clear to the candidate, and grammatically correct. If the item is a simulation task, the SME creates a detailed transcript that describes which parts of the application must be simulated. If the item is a live in the application item, the SME creates documentation to help the software developer understand how to score the item.

Each item goes through extensive reviews by our SMEs and content development team before it is handed to the content technologies team for the technical construction and publishing.


Developing a certification examination: