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How Our Tests Are Developed

The first thing you should know about our test development process is that it follows very strict professional principles and guidelines set forth by the human resources industry, specifically:
  • The American Psychological Association’s Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.
  • The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.
  • The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures.
You can rest assured that every test we develop undergoes a comprehensive and systematic process to ensure its validity. This process relies on two parts: content relevance and criterion relatedness.
Content Relevance. Our test development process always starts with a thorough job analysis. This is when we gather information from subject matter experts (SMEs). SMEs are the men and women who have been doing the job for a number of years — and doing it well — in departments and organizations located all over the country. The information we gather is very important to ensuring that the content of the test is relevant to the job.  There are three steps to this process:
  1. Job Analysis Questionnaire. SMEs complete a job analysis questionnaire, which asks them to rate three things:
    — How important specific tasks are to the job.
    — How frequently those tasks are performed.
    — How important the knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics (KSAPs) listed are to performing the job effectively.
  2. Data Analysis. Once all the data has been collected from the questionnaires, we analyze it to determine the most important KSAPs needed to do well in that particular job.
  3. Test Blueprint. Our analysis provides us with the information we need to create a blueprint for developing test items.
One Step Further
When developing promotional tests, which are rank-specific tests that help you assess the promotional potential of your employees, we take the content relevance part of the development process one step further.  

After the tests are developed, we ask a group of SMEs (for promotional tests, they are supervisory and administrative-level employees) to review the test questions, and for each one, rate its clarity, importance and relevance to the job.
Criterion Relatedness. In this part of the validation process, which is completed for all our entry-level, multiple-choice tests, we take steps to ensure that test scores directly relate to a candidate’s job performance. There are four steps to the process:
  1. Gather Test Scores. Once the test is drafted, we ask men and women from departments and organizations around the country, who are currently doing the job, to take the test.
  2. Gather Performance Ratings. Next, we ask their direct supervisors to evaluate their job performance using a standard form provided by us.
  3. Test the Test. Then we evaluate the information, facts and figures gathered in steps 1 and 2 to identify patterns — specifically, to ensure that a candidate’s test score does, in fact, predict his or her job performance.
  4. Item Analysis. Finally, an item analysis is conducted to identify test items that are not working well. For example, test items that are statistically shown to be too easy or too difficult, or that fail to show a difference between those who do well on the test — and those who don’t. 

Who Develops Our Tests

Combined, the experts who make up our test development team have over 80 years of experience. They are recognized experts in their field, having received national awards for their work, been asked to speak at numerous conferences and workshops, served as expert witnesses and government advisors.

Test Security is a Must — For Everyone's Benefit

Test Security Agreements (TSAs) are just one of the security precautions we take to ensure that our tests don’t get into the wrong hands. We require that you have a signed TSA on file with us before ordering any of our testing products or publications. We do this for your benefit, your agency or organization’s benefit, and the benefit of those who will be taking the test.

The TSA is a legal document that protects the mutual interests of all public agencies and officials who use test materials obtained from IPMA-HR. It also protects the interests of persons taking the tests by helping to ensure that no one gains special advantage by having improper access to the test materials and publications.
Become a TSA Signer. Becoming a TSA signer provides you with the ability to order any of our tests, assessment systems, publications, or free support materials. Download and sign a TSA at your convenience.

Test-specific Information

If you would like to know more about a specific test or test assessment product, we have the following documents available — free of charge — at the request of a TSA signer from your department or organization.
  • Technical Report. Our technical reports provide detailed information about the job analysis, development and validation process for a specific test or series of tests. Here you will find much more technical and test-specific information.
  • Inspection Copy. Inspection copies of our tests are available upon request. Review of an inspection copy allows you the opportunity to ensure that the test items are applicable to your department.
  • Test Response Data Report. This report provides you with five years of test data gathered on candidates from jurisdictions that have previously administered the test. The data includes frequency distribution, adverse impact by race and by gender, as well as an agency listing.

New Tests in Development

Click on the test name to learn more and find out how you can participate in our test development efforts.

Where we need your expertise

From start to finish, there are three stages of test development in which we need your help:

  1. Job Analysis.
  2. Subject Matter Expert (SME) Review.  
  3. Validation Study.

To learn more, click on a test name from our list of Current Tests in Development.


What do you get for your participation besides the great feeling of knowing you’re helping public service agencies all across the country — even the world?

  • Discounts. You’ll receive a substantial discount — from 25-55% off a future test order.
  • Direct evidence supporting the validity of the exam and its use in your agency.
  • Hire better. High-quality tests help you select high-quality candidates, saving your agency the costly expense of turnover.
  • And it’s free! A test development and validation project of this scale done internally could cost your agency in excess of $100,000. Participation in our test development projects is free.

To learn more and complete your participation form, just click on a test title from the list of Current Tests in Development.