News from the Exams Institute, Kristen Murphy, Spring 2017

Greetings to all from ACS Exams.

2016 was a great year for ACS Exams in many respects. During the summer of 2016, the annual winners of the National Awards particularly important (and sponsored by) the Division of Chemical Education were announced. This group of winners is notable on their own merits, but in addition, at ACS Exams, we were especially proud as this group has been part of the ACS Exams family. Marcy H. Towns of Purdue University will be receiving the ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching and Learning of Chemistry; an award sponsored by ACS Exams. Laura Slocum of Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in South Carolina will be receiving the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching; an award sponsored by the Journal of Chemical Education and ChemEd X. Marcy and Laura have served ACS Exams in numerous ways including serving on the Board of Trustees and serving on exam committees and chairing exam committees. Finally, our own past Director, Thomas Holme of Iowa State University, will be receiving the George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education; an award sponsored by Cengage Learning and the ACS Division of Chemical Education. The awards ceremony on April 4th held at the spring ACS National Meeting will be a moment of great pride for chemical education!

Exam development in 2016 was also tremendous and tremendously busy! In early 2017, we will release the newest versions of the general chemistry (full year) exam, analytical chemistry exam, and instrumental analysis exam; in late spring, we will 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. We are in development on many exams also. In trial testing this spring are the biochemistry exam, diagnostic of undergraduate chemical knowledge (DUCK) exam, organic chemistry (full year) exam, and general chemistry (second-term) exam. We also expect to start field testing 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. Finally, we are in development (with expected field testing in 2017 or early 2018) of the general-organic-biochemistry exam, general chemistry (full year) exam, general chemistry (first-term) exam, high school (first year) exam and physical chemistry exam (likely to be thermodynamics first). 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 Fall, 2016. We were so pleased at the fantastic response to the request to field-test exams with 97 institutions participating. Over 8,300 trial tests were distributed for field testing providing the critical data to committees for producing the high-quality assessments aligned with the reputation of ACS Exams.

The business continues to be strong with 2016 finishing as an excellent year. Under the outstanding leadership of our Business Operations Manager, Julie Adams, our sales have been strong and our continued stability will enable the continued operations of ACS Exams far into the future.

Unfortunately, 2016 also saw the continuation of challenges in maintaining the security and integrity of the intellectual property of our exams and study materials. Sadly, we have fully recalled two exams: General Chemistry First Term Exam 2012 and Analytical Chemistry Exam 2007. We were also required to remove from sales and replace the Instrumental Analysis Exam 2009. All users of these exams were immediately contacted once the recalls began with a remedy of replacement exams (free of charge) or reduced prices in the case of the Instrumental Analysis Exam. New exams for Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis will be available this spring and the newest General Chemistry First Term Exam (2015) has preliminary norms which will be finalized later this spring. Additionally, a new General Chemistry First Term Exam is under development. These recalls were required given the illegal posting of exam material, compromising the integrity of the exam and the exam norms. We would like to continue to stress to everyone in the community how important it is to work together to maintain the integrity of secure exams and impress on our colleagues and students the gravity of illegally posting or distributing copyrighted material.

Unfortunately, we also continue to deal with illegal posting of scans of the study guides online with the newest threat through posting of items from the study guide in an online practice exam or study format. We take very seriously the trust the community has in the integrity of our exams and appreciate the support by the community to assist in maintaining this.

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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