News from the Exams Institute, Kristen Murphy, Fall 2017

Exams Institute LogoGreetings to all from ACS Exams.

Since our last newsletter, we have been presented with newer challenges at ACS Exams, particularly those related to exam security.  Recently, we have determined that at least eight exams were temporarily compromised by being posted online.  We moved quickly to have these posts removed.    

We have put a great deal of thought and discussion into the consequences of recalling the exams and the overall risks posed.  As you may know, to develop a high-caliber exam takes an average of two years and involves faculty and instructors from a diverse cross-section of academic institutions around the country and extensive field testing.  Consequently, we are pursuing all legal actions against the responsible parties.  These recent compromises have caused us to re-evaluate our business practice of automatically recalling exams that have been compromised. Moving forward, we will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.  While it’s not realistic to prevent all compromises, we are also taking additional security measures.  Along with the primary security pledge, we will institute a secondary security pledge that can be used by secondary users at an institution.  We are also asking faculty and staff to more carefully track the use of ACS Exams at their institutions.

The probability is small that there is an impact on your institution’s use of our exams (or that there has been a direct benefit to your students).  In the event any institution would like to switch to a different test or version of a test, we are reducing the price of all general and organic chemistry exams for 18 months (effective until December 31st, 2018) to only $1 per copy (minimum 25 tests per order).

For the past 80 years, ACS Exams has provided high-quality exams and will continue to do everything in its power to protect their integrity.  We want to thank all our academic institutions for their continued support of ACS Exams.  These recent incidents serve as a reminder about the importance of maintaining a secure testing environment and remaining ever vigilant throughout the entire exam life cycle to reduce the probability of compromises from occurring.   If you have any questions about this, or anything else related to ACS Exams, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Exam development continues to be tremendously busy!  We have recently released the newest versions of the general chemistry (full year) exam, analytical chemistry exam, and instrumental analysis exam.  By September, we plan to release the newest versions of the first-term general chemistry paired questions exam, second-term general chemistry paired questions exam, and organic chemistry (first-term) exam.  Finally, in time for the fall testing season, we also plan to release the newest versions of the biochemistry exam, diagnostic of undergraduate chemical knowledge (DUCK) exam, and general chemistry (second-term) exam.  We will also start field testing exams in physical chemistry (dynamics items), first-term general chemistry, full-year general chemistry, general-organic-biochemistry (both a single semester and full year exam) and high school chemistry.  In addition, we have plans to field test a full year general chemistry exam in a new electronic environment.  If you are interested in participating in field testing, please let us know.  As always, there is no cost to you as we provide all test booklets and answer sheets.  We do request that you return student performances to us to assist us in the final stage of exam development.  We are very appreciative of the vast number of faculty and instructors who serve on these exam committees and the chairs who lead these groups.  If you are interested in serving on future exam committees, please let us know.  We are regularly starting new committees, particularly in general and organic chemistry.

We would also like to specially thank all faculty and instructors who participated in trial testing in Spring, 2017.  We were so pleased at the fantastic response to the request to field-test exams.

The business continues to be strong with 2017 starting as another stable year.  Under the outstanding leadership of our Business Operations Manager, Julie Adams, our business has been strong and our continued stability will enable the continued operations of ACS Exams far into the future.

As always, ACS Exams would not function without the numerous and dedicated board members, exam committee chairs and members, trial testing faculty and instructors, and the focus group participants.  The highest quality work that ACS Exams has the honor of producing is only possible due to the many, many people who contribute to this work.  It continues to be a humbling and extraordinary experience working with you all.  And, if you are interested in working with us on exam committees or through development projects, please let us know.  For this and all other concerns or matters related to ACS Exams, please feel free to contact me at

We thank you all for your continued support of ACS Exams!

Best to you all,

Kristen Murphy

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