Constructing a certification examination

After designing a certification examination and developing the content, it all comes down to execution. The Certiport testing services team determines the best certification examination experience for our candidates, and then carries out that vision in the certification examination publishing process.

Item types

The Certiport content development team creates what you see in a certification examination. They put the plan in place. The selection of item types is driven by the certification examination objective domain. The simplest and most straightforward item types, such as multiple-choice, may be the most appropriate for many skills being assessed. Innovation can be built into items by adding graphics to multiple-choice items, either in the stem or as the answer options, or by using a more advanced selected response item type such as matching or hotspot. However, if the objective domain calls for the demonstration of a skill (completing a financial balance sheet, for instance), this skill is often best assessed with a more complex and innovative item type, such as a simulation or live in the application item.

Building innovative certification examination items

Computer-based assessment allows for immediate scoring and provides the ability to include new types of items that can enhance a certification examination far beyond the traditional multiple-choice and essay item types. Because of the near infinite possible actions in live in the application or simulation environments, these items require software development. Like a builder takes the blueprints from an architect to construct a building, our content technologies team uses the item transcript to create what you see and experience in simulation or live in the application items in your certification examination.


Betas are preliminary versions of certification examinations that may be conducted by Certiport to collect data and evaluate certification examination items with the participation and help of actual certification candidates. The statistical results of item performance, along with candidate feedback, help Certiport select effective assessment tasks to create and publish the operational certification examination. Learn more about betas.

Analysis & assembly

Standard setting, form assembly and equating are important for establishing fairness in certification examination procedures and scoring.

Standard setting

The Certiport content development team employs criterion-referenced standard-setting procedures for the certification examination pass/fail decision that were developed based on universally-accepted psychometric practices. Certiport certification examinations are designed to measure skills on an individual basis, rather than in relation to another person or group. Our commitment is to promote certification rather than use individual scores as the relevant point of comparison.

Form assembly

In the interest of security, Certiport distributes multiple forms of its certification examinations, each with different content. However, steps are taken to ensure that each form of a certification examination measures and certifies an equivalent level of knowledge, skill, and ability.

Equating and scaling

Through the procedure known as equating, passing standard values are adjusted so that an equivalent level of proficiency is required to pass different versions of the certification examination. The goal of this process is to make sure that each candidate receives a statistically equivalent certification examination: one that is neither statistically easier nor harder than that received by any other candidate.
The Certiport content development team uses industry best practices to establish the relevant cut score for the certification examination. Passing standards are derived from a combination of expert opinion on “minimal competence” and observations regarding how well a certification examination actually differentiates between low-performing and high-performing examinees.

Localization process

Once we have determined that a certification examination will be offered in a language other than English, the Certiport content development team works with our international partners to localize the item wording, interfaces, and graphic elements to the appropriate language. These experts help us to ensure that the integrity of original item is retained in the new language.

Developing a certification examination: