Question Development

Creating CLEP Test Questions

Every new question on an exam originates either with members of the test development committee or with other faculty members who have been commissioned to write questions. The question is then reviewed by the committee and by assessment specialists to ensure:

  • That the question's topic is appropriate for the specifications of the exam.
  • That the question is unambiguous and that there’s a single correct response to the question.
  • The validity of the new item in the context of the exam, so that its inclusion in the exam will help colleges and universities determine the achievement level of test-takers.
  • That there is no knowledge outside the scope of the exam that would be required for a test-taker to answer it correctly.
  • That the question measures a test-taker's understanding of, and ability to think analytically about, the subject matter, and not merely factual recall or a trivial aspect of the subject.

Each question also undergoes an editorial review and a fairness review, to ensure that it does not include inappropriate, offensive or stereotypical language, and that its content or wording does not favor any particular group of test-takers over others.

After these reviews, questions are pretested in exams. (Similar to the SAT, a small portion of questions in all CLEP exams are actually pretest items, which do not count toward the final score.) When a pretest question has been exposed to enough test-takers, its statistical performance on such factors as degree of difficulty and differential functioning among various groups of test-takers is analyzed by psychometricians and the test development committee. Based on this analysis, the committee decides if the question should be included as an operational item, rewritten to address any shortcomings, or discarded entirely.