How Exams are Developed

The CLEP program's test development process is informed by the conviction that the exams must be rigorous and relevant to their respective disciplines. More than 600 college faculty members from all regions of the U.S. contribute to developing the CLEP exams and establishing test standards. Each exam is developed by a standing test development committee of college faculty members.

The test development process is supported by scientific validation and empirical evidence at every step, from test development through test administration and scoring. Therefore, CLEP exams undergo two dozen reviews and quality assurance tests before they are released for public use.

CLEP test development standards comply with the standards recommended by the American Council of Education (ACE).

Curriculum Survey

The first step in the construction of a CLEP exam is a curriculum survey, which provides test developers with information about current college curricula in specific subject areas and recent trends in the field. This survey is used to develop and update test content specifications. The surveys are conducted periodically on college faculty nationwide.

Specifically, our curriculum surveys gather the following information:

  • Major content and skill areas covered in the course, and the proportion of the course devoted to each area.
  • Specific topics taught and the emphasis placed on each topic.
  • Specific skills students are expected to acquire, and the relative emphasis given to those skills.
  • Recent and anticipated changes in course content, skills, and topics.
  • Primary textbooks and supplementary learning resources used.
  • Titles and lengths of college courses that correspond to the CLEP exam.

Test Development Committees

College faculty are indispensable in the CLEP test development process. Exam development begins with test development committees, comprising three or four faculty members, from two- and four-year institutions, currently teaching relevant undergraduate college courses. These committees oversee ongoing test development as well as review and shape exam questions, test forms, and content specifications on a regular basis.

New test development committee members receive training in writing and reviewing psychometrically sound exam questions. Their work is supplemented by assessment specialists and psychometricians who generate and analyze statistics and data on the exams, maintain databases of exam questions and test forms, and assist the committee in preparing new test forms.

Becoming a Committee Member

If you're interested in serving on a test development committee, or if you'd like to recommend someone from your institution, please contact us for more information.

How Exam Questions are Developed

Each new question on an exam originates either from members of the test development committee or from other faculty members who have been commissioned to write questions. The question is then reviewed by the test development committee and assessment specialists. Each question also undergoes an editorial and fairness review to ensure that it doesn't include inappropriate, offensive, or stereotypical language, and that its content or wording doesn’t favor any particular group of test takers.