The Story of Exam Development – Part 2

In my last blog I started to explain the exam development process at Microsoft Learning.  I began by asking if you had ever wondered how a Microsoft certification exam comes into being?  Following are steps 4-6 (of 12 steps). I found this interesting article from the fine folks at: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net

Phase 4: Item Development
The number of items to be written for each objective is based on the results of the blueprint survey. Items are written by external SMEs; internal Microsoft employees cannot act as item writers except in rare circumstances. Once written, the lead item writer reviews and revises all items to ensure that they are:

  • Technically accurate
  • Clear, unambiguous, and relevant
  • Not biased toward any population subgroup or culture
  • Not misleading or tricky
  • Testing for useful knowledge rather than obscure or trivial facts
  • Related to the objective that they are intended to measure

Items that meet these criteria are included in the initial item pool.

Phase 5: Alpha Review

The technical (or alpha) review ensures that the items are technically accurate, relevant to the real world, consistent with the experience level of the target audience, and map to the intended objective. The alpha review meeting includes the lead item writer, editor, and external SMEs. These experts become the primary arbitrators of any issues or concerns that are exposed. To minimize conflicts of interest, only the lead item writer can attend the alpha review; none of the other SMEs who participate at this phase have seen exam content prior to this meeting.

Phase 6: Beta Exam

The reviewed and edited items are collected into a beta exam item pool; the beta exam is built and administered to an invitation-only audience in most cases. During the beta exam, each participant has the opportunity to answer and comment on the items in the pool.

Again – I owe thanks to the fine folks at: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net

-Randy Muller

In this article

Join the Conversation