Examination Resources from the American Chemical Society
By Bruce Wilson
Chemistry Product Manager
Writing exams can be a time-consuming and difficult task. Not only is it hard to develop a statistically valid exam that assesses students’ learning, but the exam must be updated to prevent former students sharing their old exams with current students. If multiple sections of the same class are to take the exam, several versions may be needed to keep students from sharing information with classmates who will take the exam later in the day or week. It can be a struggle to stay ahead.
The American Chemical Society's Examination Institute can help. Read on to learn what they offer and how to make the most of their resources.
What is the American Chemical Society Examinations Institute?
Established in 1930, the ACS Examinations Institute is part of the ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute. The institute develops standardized exams for high school and college chemistry courses, including general, organic, physical, biochemistry, analytical, and inorganic chemistry. Exams are developed by volunteer committees of teachers currently teaching the specific chemistry courses.
What resources does it provide?
The institute offers exams to current chemistry instructors. The 12 categories of exams cover high school and college chemistry courses. The questions on all exams are multiple choice. Some exams, such as high school chemistry and general chemistry, include 2 versions that differ in question order. The length of each exam varies, from 40 questions in 55 min to 70 questions in 110 min for the organic chemistry exam. Exams are available for a full-year course as well as the first and second semesters of a course.
Teachers are encouraged to return their students' scores to the Examinations Institute so that statistical data (such as mean score, standard deviation, median, and standard error of measurement) can be calculated. For exams that already have these data available, the institute provides the data with the original order, enabling you to compare your students’ performance with that of a national pool of students.
How do I order?
To order exams, go to the Examinations Institute Web site and request an order form or call 800.854.1672.
Want to get involved?
The institute is continually looking for chemistry educators to help develop new exams and update current exams. There are positions available for volunteers to serve on exam committees and write questions, as well as institute fellowships for people who want to learn more about student assessment. Institute fellowships provide the 50% funding match that faculty need in order to support a full-year sabbatical.