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.
- The the question is unambiguous and that there’s a single correct response to the question.
- The new item is valid 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.
- There is no knowledge outside the scope of the exam that would be required for a test taker to answer it correctly.
- The question measures a test taker's understanding of and ability to think analytically about the subject matter.
Each question also undergoes an editorial and 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.
After these reviews, questions are included in exams for pretesting (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.