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3 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Launch Your First Credentialing Exam

A credentialing program can be an effective tool for fueling your company’s growth through increased brand awareness, product adoption, and customer retention. To accomplish these goals, you need to ensure your new exam meets industry needs, attracts qualified professionals, and maintains credibility and relevance over time. This requires considered research, planning, and exam development. In this article, we will cover 3 of the essential questions to consider when launching your first credentialing exam to set your program on the right track.

1. Who is your target market?

To successfully bring a new credential to your industry, one essential step before you launch is to identify your target market. 

This involves market research and surveys to gain insight into your ideal candidate’s needs and the benefits they expect to gain from the credential.

With a candidate-centric approach to launching your credential, you will be better positioned to market your credential effectively and attract candidates.

Kryterion Chief Psychometric Officer, Leslie Thomas, Ph.D. provides tips for identifying the right target market in her presentation The Four Immutable Laws of Certification Success. In this presentation, Dr. Thomas discusses the importance of identifying the primary problem of your target market. According to Dr. Thomas, here are a few reasons why this can help you effectively attract candidates:

  • Helps ensure that your credential addresses a problem that the market, especially employers, perceives as worth solving. Candidates are more apt to seek credentials that employers value and use to help make their hiring and promotion decisions.
  • Allows you to better market your program by communicating how your credential addresses specific challenges and will benefit candidates and employers alike. Streamlines the test-development process by focusing on what is most important to your customers and/or partners.

2. Does the exam satisfy professional testing standards?

To ensure that the credentialing program earns credibility in your industry, it is important to be aware of and follow professional testing standards throughout all phases of exam development.

Below are 3 commonly recognized best practices and standards:

  • Test Development & Delivery Standards: These standards focus on the development and design of the exam itself. They include guidelines for exam blueprinting, item writing, item analysis, test administration procedures, scoring and reporting, and exam security protocols.
  • Fairness and Bias Guidelines: Exams should be fair and free from any form of bias. Guidelines are in place to ensure that the exam content and procedures do not disadvantage any particular group of test candidates based on factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or disability. In addition, standards are also in place to prevent undue influence or conflicts of interest from individuals or groups in test design, delivery, or decision making based on results.
  • Continuous Evaluation and Improvement: Programs that uphold industry standards have mechanisms in place for ongoing evaluation and improvement. This involves regularly reviewing the exam content, updating it to reflect changes in the industry, analyzing exam performance data, and incorporating feedback from stakeholders to enhance the quality and relevance of the credential.

In A Psychometrician’s Guide to Smart Test Development you can explore more insights and step-by-step tips on developing a credentialing exam that is valid, reliable, and legally defensible.

3. What security measures will be in place?

Protecting your investment in the exam includes putting security measures in place to deter exam theft and other risks. Securing your exam content can safeguard your program’s credibility and value.

Here are a few examples of the top mistakes made with new programs that make the program vulnerable to security risks that you might consider:

  • Mistake #1: Failure to draft a comprehensive candidate agreement establishing terms of the program and exam. Candidate agreements describe required and prohibited candidate behaviors and the consequences to candidates for violating the agreement.
  • Mistake #2: Failure to ensure high-stakes exams are supervised by proctors who are not incentivized by test outcome. Proctors act as a deterrent to subversion of the exam, and can act to prevent further unauthorized behaviors.
  • Mistake #3: Failure to obtain signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) from all SMEs, program staff, and others with access to your exam content. Without these agreements in place you will have no recourse if exam content winds up widely exposed by a trusted insider.

In this comprehensive guide, Kryterion provides more insight into the Top Mistakes New Certification Programs Make (and how to avoid them).

Our team of experts in exam development and delivery are available to support the launch your credentialing exam

Want to learn even more about best practices to launch a credentialing exam that meets industry needs, attracts qualified professionals, and maintains credibility and relevance over time? Click here to schedule an informational call with a Kryterion expert.

As a partner to top-tier technology companies, professional associations, and organizations across several industries, Kryterion provides:

  • Control: A self-service SaaS platform that gives you in-house control of your exam development and delivery ecosystem in real time
  • Unparalleled expertise: In-house, world class psychometricians available to support the design and development of exams.
  • Faster time to market: Publish exams or change test items in minutes – with no annual minimums or test publishing fees
  • Multi-modal test delivery: online, online with live remote proctoring, via Kryterion’s 1000+ test center network, or via your own test center or event
  • Customer success pros ready to support the successful launch and growth of your program

Ready to take the next step to start or grow a program for your organization? Click here to connect with a Kryterion expert.

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