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Flexible and efficient

exam development processes.

Solutions through Innovation

Test Development

SMT offers the full range of test development services. Whatever your test development needs, SMT has the experience, the tools, the personnel, and the commitment to ensure that your certification or licensure exams are valid and defensible. We work closely with you to ensure that your resources are used cost-effectively and efficiently.


SMT utilizes the Test Development Center (TDC), our proprietary state-of-the art web-based system for item banking and item development. This item banking and development tool facilitates all aspects of item and exam development and has the ability to store innovative as well as traditional item types.

Developing effective test items can be one of the greater challenges of the test development process. SMT test development specialists provide comprehensive instruction and guidance to ensure subject matter experts (SMEs) are fully trained to write, review, and appraise valid items. SMT's TDC allows authorized SME item writers to efficiently, effectively, and securely develop test items.


In order to ensure that items appearing on exams are of the highest quality, all items are reviewed by a test developer, SMEs, and editors. The rigorous review process begins with an experienced test developer working with a group(s) of SMEs to verify the relevance and accuracy of items written by their peers. The test developer ensures that all items are written to meet internal standards of quality before approving them for use on an exam. Once items are approved, they are then reviewed by a minimum of two editors to verify that they are written clearly and concisely.

SMT's Test Development Center (TDC) allows authorized SME to securely submit items and collaborate with item reviewers from any location at any time thus providing clients with greater flexibility and cost savings.


SMT's staff of professional editors reviews all exam items for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar, as well as verifies that terminology and item structure are consistent throughout the exam. Every effort is made to ensure that exams are error-free and void of duplicative or clueing content. To support ease of reading and candidate comprehension, items with unclear wording, unnecessary repetition, or awkward construction are noted; and editors work directly with clients to revise these items as necessary. This comprehensive and cooperative effort works toward assuring the best possible testing experience for all candidates.


Through the item writing process, a client's item banks are sufficiently populated to meet development needs. At the appropriate times, new exam forms are assembled by SMT professionals to meet exam specifications and then reviewed by SMEs to assure exam quality.  The review process can be conducted either remotely or through in-person test form review workshops, once again providing you with greater flexibility and cost savings.

The Test Development Center (TDC) is also a valuable tool in saving time and improving the quality of form development. The TDC allows the client to quickly select items for a new test form and to create the form with the press of a button. The TDC also allows the client to manage the form file to perform important quality control reviews; the TDC facilitates a dry run of the exam to assure keys and formatting are correct prior to release.


Although multiple-choice questions are the most common type for licensure and certification exams, it is not always possible to distinguish competent from non-competent practitioners through a written exam alone. Sometimes it is necessary to administer practical exams to candidates, requiring them to perform job-related activities in front of trained raters as part of the exam process. Developing a performance exam begins with determining which tasks and KSAs from the test blueprint are best assessed via a performance exam. Once they are identified, an SMT psychometrician works with SMEs to define and develop the best way to elicit observable performances of these tasks and KSAs from candidates, decide how the performances will be scored, train raters to judge the performances in a consistent and fair manner, and determine whate constitutes a passing performance.


Performance exams, while preferable in many instances, are not always feasible due to legal, cost or practicality constraints. Technology exists today  to allow new item types that can enhance the testing experience. These innovative item types allow for testing of higher cognitive levels than possible with simple multiple-choice questions while avoiding the constraints possible with performance exams. SMT utilizes DaVinci's Tool Chest, an application suite, that enables clients to develop innovative item types including:

  • Multiple choice response combined with animation, audio, or video.
  • List choices.
  • Hotspots.
  • Drag and drop.
  • Directional drag.
  • Complex scenarios with constructed responses.