You’d think it’s the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence’s (ASE’s) best-kept secret based on the number of times the question is asked.
The question: Just who writes ASE’s collision repair test questions anyway?
The answer: technicians and other technical experts. These technical experts represent a cross-section of the motor vehicle service industry, including working technicians and technical training representatives from auto manufacturers and the aftermarket, as well as educators.
ASE tests are designed to measure a technician’s knowledge of the specialized skills necessary for competent performance in a specific job category. In other words, ASE tests are written to reflect the real world of work, not theory or textbook themes.
To ensure that ASE tests closely parallel actual work situations, a considerable amount of time is spent developing a single question, which may or may not find its way onto an ASE test.
Here’s how the process works:
1. Test questions are developed at test-writing workshops, which are comprised of between 15 and 20 technical experts. A separate three-day test-writing workshop is conducted every two to two-and-a-half years for every ASE test.
2. Before the first question is written at a workshop, the technical experts review and modify the existing job skills or tasks necessary for a technician to perform successfully in a particular job category, e.g. steering and suspension.
3. With the task list as a guide, individual test questions are written. Each question is reviewed and modified until accepted by the entire workshop group. The questions that are accepted are then "pre-tested."
4. Pre-testing means that questions are embedded in actual ASE tests to determine their performance. Test takers are unaware of which questions are being pre-tested, and the answers to these pre-test questions don’t affect the test score in any way.
5. Based on how well the question performs in pre-test, it will become an actual test question or will be sent back to a future workshop, where it will be either modified and pre-tested again or thrown out.
6. Even after the question passes the rigors of pre-testing, it continues to be monitored. Every question is statistically tracked for proper performance every time it’s used in a test. Simply put, for a test question to properly perform, it must be answered correctly more often by those technicians who score higher on the test than by those who score lower.
7. When the question becomes technically outdated, it’s removed from the pool of test questions (thrown out).
And finally, one more insider scoop: No two ASE tests are ever alike. Every test is newly assembled each time it’s given.
Writer Richard White is vice president of communications for ASE.