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PS exam transitioning to computer-based format

The Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam transitioned to a computer-based format in 2016, with the first administrations available in October.

The new computer-based PS exam allows 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 includes a digital PS Reference Handbook. Examinees receive their results 7–10 days after the exam.

Introducing Alternative Item Types

The computer-based PS exam also introduces a new testing component: alternative item types (AITs).

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

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 exam results from the last pencil-and-paper exam released to state licensing boards

October 2016—First testing dates available for CBT PS exam


What are the exam fees for the new computer-based test?
The computer-based PS exam is $300.

Is the PS exam still a closed-book exam?
Yes. The PS exam is a closed-book exam. Examinees are provided with a digital PS Reference Handbook on exam day.

Did scoring and reporting change?
Yes. Examinees are typically 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.)