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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 (AITs).

AITs are questions other than traditional multiple-choice questions. The PS exam will incorporate commonly used alternative item types that include but are not limited to:

Multiple correct options—allows multiple choices to be correct

Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer

Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label

Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question

Alternative item types provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through paper-based testing.

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


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.)