PS exam transitioning to computer-based format

The Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam is transitioning to a computer-based format.

The new computer-based PS exam will allow for year-round testing at approved Pearson VUE test centers. This gives examinees the freedom to pick the exam time, date, and location. The new format will include a digital PS Reference Handbook. Examinees will receive their results 7–10 days after the exam.

Introducing Alternative Item Types

The computer-based PS exam will also introduce a new testing component: alternative item types (AIT). AITs are items other than traditional multiple-choice questions. The PS exam will incorporate commonly used alternative item types that include but are not limited to

MCMR—multiple-choice multiple-response, more options
Hot spot—click on part of graphic to answer
Drag and drop—click and drag to match, sort, or rank
Written response—an open response to a prompt

AITs assess higher cognitive functions (decision making, application of knowledge, skills) that can more accurately reflect real world job functions. The inclusions of AITs in the PS exam will ultimately improve the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Alternative item types provide the examinee higher validity after passing the technical examination. A video detailing more about alternative items types will be posted in May.

Important dates

April 20, 2016Practice exam for CBT PS exam available (includes alternative item types) and updated PS Reference Handbook (PDF) available
June 20, 2016—Registration and scheduling open for new PS exam
June 2016—PS Exams results from the last pencil-and-paper exam released to state licensing boards
October 2016—First testing dates available for CBT PS exam

Learn more about CBT

CBT exam-day experience
Exam prep materials
Test center locations


Will the exam fees change for the new computer-based test?
Yes. The computer-based PS exam will cost $300.
Will the PS exam still be a closed-book exam?
Yes. The PS exam will remain a closed-book exam. Examinees will be provided with a digital PS reference handbook on exam day.
Will scoring and reporting change?
Yes. Examinees will typically be able to see their results 7–10 days after taking the computer-based PS exam. (The pencil-and-paper PS exam results were released 8–10 weeks after the exam.)