General Information Page

How Questions Are Written

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

  1. Determine the exact name of the state license title.
  2. Analyze the exam requirements.
  3. Obtain the “reference books” or government statutes suggested for the specific exam.
  4. Write sample questions.


A) First we start with a classification from a specific state.  Lets use Maryland as an example.

We research the Maryland statutes to find out the licensing requirements for the State. Then we find out what professional licensing classifications the Statutes list as construction related. In Maryland the construction related classifications for the housing industry include a Home Improvement Contractor, Home Improvement Subcontractor, Home Improvement Salesperson, HVAC, Plumbing Electrical, etc.

If you are requesting exam preparation for a Maryland Home Improvement Contractor, our effort is then directed to the Exam Services Provider for Maryland.  We will obtain information from the provider that lets us know the exam dates, exam sites, minimum trade experience required for the license, minimum scores, suggested reference books for the specific exam, and the exam subjects.

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. Much of the information we need to begin our question writing process is available on the internet.
B) Second, we obtain the “books” that the state or the exam provider have listed as suggested study materials. This can be a time consuming as well as a costly process.

Once the books are obtained, we ask the publisher for permission to use their information, with reference to their work, in our question development so that fair use of copyrighted material has not been violated.

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 old 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.  We work hard at finding the books that are references for a particular exam.

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.

As an example if there were a question about unemployment taxes, or, about the size of a roof rafter, we open the books and write several questions about the subject area and include the “new” questions in our database and respond with those new questions to the persons who have taken the time to ask the questions to us.

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