General Information Page

How Questions Are Written

Our test question development is a three-step process...

  1. Determine the exact name of the state license title, reference books and subjects covered in the exam
  2. Obtain the “reference books” or government statutes suggested for the specific exam
  3. Write sample questions


A) Example: if we were writing sample exam questions for licensing in the state of Maryland:

We would use the exam bulletin published by PSI to find the book list and subjects covered in the exam.  After that, we would begin the process of writing an equivalent number of questions that coresponded to the weight of importance specified by the exam provider (percentage of questions asked on the exam).

Generally, we don't use generic, substitute study materials.  We write questions out of the actual text of the books that you will be required to obtain BEFORE you take your exam.

We DO NOT have access to exact exam questions, however once we know the “books” and the “subjects”, we then have a basis from which to write our questions.

B) Second, we obtain the “books” that the state or the exam provider (PSI) has listed in their bulletin as suggested study materials.  This can be a time consuming and costly process.  We generally don't buy expensive books that can only be used for one trade/license in one state.

An example of our question writing would be: “According to Modern Carpentry, batter boards should be placed within _____ feet of the foundation line.”  Here we’ve given recognition to the “book” from which the question has been taken.
C) Third, we write the questions.  Our questions are designed to convey information that you will need to know in order to be adequately prepared to successfully take the exam.  Once we have the suggested “books” then we find the “subject” in that particular book. Then we write the question.

We write in three question formats:

1) True and False Question. The reason for a true and false question is that it’s a simple way of conveying a statement of fact.  Even though you may see a four-choice multiple answer question testing your knowledge of the correct height of a kitchen counter with the answer choices of A. 24”, B. 30”, C. 36”, D. 38”, the same information can be conveyed in a true/false type question stating that the correct kitchen counter height is 30”.  (True or False)
2) Dual Facts Question. This question sets up the need to choose which of the two facts or statements is/are correct.

Here’s an example from the Maryland exam preparation:

At least one month prior to a license expiring, the Commission shall mail to the licensee, at the last known address a renewal application form and:

I. Notice of date on which license expires
II. Notice of renewal application fee and, date by which the Commission must receive the renewal application for the renewal to be issued and mailed prior to the expiration date.

A.  I only
B.  II only
C.  Both I and II
D.  Neither I nor II

3) Scenario Question. Example:
The Old Cane Building on Main Street has been slated for renovation. The blue prints have been hauled out of storage and found to have been drawn to a scale of 1/16” per 2’-0”.  One wing of the building measures 1-1/2”.  This would mean that the actual length of the wing is:

A.  24 feet
B.  36 feet
C.  48 feet
D.  96 feet

(Solution:  the measured distance on the blueprint is 1.5 inches.  This is 24 sixteenths.  Since one sixteenth equals 2’, 24 sixteenths equal 48’.)

We have become proficient over the years of question writing at knowing how to write question to convey information that you will need to pass your exam.  We’ve also become very familiar with the “books” and how to access information.

As you've probably already noticed, there are a lot of links on the site to books we have found for you that are sometimes hard to find... like federal regulations and standards.  Even the testing companies don't take the time to do this.  They just give you a title and hope you find it on your own.

We work hard at finding the subject areas on a specific exam.  Over the years we have received inquiries as to information that has been troublesome or hard to understand about questions on a particular exam.

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