Submission By:  Liz Grater  and Ashanti Johnson



In the last few decades, many people have sought to obtain certifications in a multitude of industries.  Today, these certifications bring added value to their careers no matter what their job may be. At Cisco, we have set ourselves apart to ensure our certifications bring the highest value to you and employers.  Over the past 20 years, we have established ourselves as a leading IT certification provider and successfully certified over 2 million individuals! 


When it comes to Cisco certifications, you can be confident that our exams represent the highest level of integrity.  It is what we do behind the scenes that enable us to consistently develop high stakes certifications and ensure they are valid, reliable, and valuable. We do this by following the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, which have been jointly developed by the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education. Each exam is developed and delivered following these standards to ensure fairness to all candidates.


The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing provide acceptable psychometric methods for building a valid and reliable exam. Following these psychometric standards allows us to measure a candidate’s competency and ensure that our exams accurately identify qualified individuals.  While building exams, our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and Program Managers follow a series of phases that must be completed to produce a quality exam. 

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The first is the analysis and design phase in which SMEs are engaged to define the job role tied to the certification. The Job Role Analysis once completed is followed by a Job Task Analysis (JTA).  During the JTA, SMEs identify the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required of the target candidate population. The result of the JTA is a final blueprint that outlines the content areas a candidate will be tested on, and how those content areas will be weighted.


During the development phase that follows, SMEs develop the exam items following strict item writing guidelines.   After the questions are written, each one undergoes a technical, grammatical, and quality assurance review before it can be used on an exam. All approved questions are mapped to the blueprint and added to our item bank for use on exam forms. The passing score for each exam is determined using psychometric standards and scaling methodologies.


Upon exam release, we begin the evaluation phase to constantly monitor the exam’s performance. This is a rigorous and ongoing process to ensure continued validity, relevance, and currency of our exams.  Everything we do is to maintain exam integrity so that candidates and employers are confident in our certifications.


Our Subject Matter Experts are an integral part of exam development.  We rely on the expertise of certified professionals like you from around the world. If you are interested in becoming a Subject Matter Expert, we encourage you to apply through our SME portal.