API Computer Based Testing - A Welcome Change in the Industry

By Marc McConnell, P.E., Metallurgy and Fixed Equipment Engineering Coordinator at Pro-Surve Technical Services. December 16, 2013
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The year of 2013 brought about many changes in the API ICP (Inspector Certification Program). Two of the really big changes were:

  1. May 13 - Supplemental certifications are now a stand-alone credential
  2. October 29 - ICP Introduces Computer Based Testing

Being a member of the API ICP, for several years, I know that we are continuously working improve our products. This year was exceptionally productive for us.

The CBT (Computer Based Testing) is going to be a change, but its something that we absolutely needed. The sheer volume of people seeking certification required this change from pen and paper to computer-based testing (CBT). This change is a welcome push toward a more streamlined, efficient method.

The table below shows the number of candidates taking each of the major exams. Notice how the number of people taking each of the tests just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The absolute volume of paper simply required that a more effective testing system was needed.


CBT was just the logical improvement to make in the process.

Since I knew these changes were coming, we initiated CBT in the training classes PinnacleAIS offers. Our goal is to train on both the course content and the format of the actual API test. It’s been a tremendous success as people become accustomed to seeing the questions in electronic form.

Pinnacle's CBT is web based. Before our classes start, we send out a sample quiz that allows the candidate the opportunity to log on and answer a few questions. This is done just to get them acquainted with the process before we start class.

In the mock exams, the students can change answers to any question prior to submitting the exam. It’s real close to being like the actual API exam. We use the CBT system for all our daily class quizzes and homework assignments, so students can become very familiar with this technology at their own pace.

Another benefit of the web based CBT is the science behind testing. The CBT service allows us to see what questions the students are having the most problems with. Students don’t always speak up in class and ask the relevant questions needed to fully understand a subject. Therefore in a seamless experience with the CBT software, the instructor can instantly see the question statistics, and then focus in on the individual questions/topics that are providing the students with the most difficulty. It’s a win - win experience.


The above chart shows the growth of the number of candidates taking the supplemental certifications for the 571 and 580. Since these two certifications are growing in such demand, we are growing with them.

Pinnacle's training classes have always been filled at maximum desired capacity of just 20 students. However, in 2014 we are adding additional classes to correspond with the increased number of API test dates. In addition, we are now offering our students on-line study materials to better prepare them for the class material.

I’m always a good contact to call and discuss your API ICP questions. We meet twice a year in a public forum. If I can’t properly address your question, I can always bring it to our committee. I frequently travel, and if your location is on my route, I can make it a point to stop in and provide a quick learning on all the changes in API ICP. Feel free to leave your questions or comments below.

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Rob Walker on December 16, 2013
I am looking into the Mark Smith 570 class.... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Dave Laverick on December 16, 2013
Hi Marc, I agre that the question side... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Cecil Stuart on December 16, 2013
Hi Rob Just go onto Mark's website and... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Wahed Gomaa on August 13, 2016
CBT is the best Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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