The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) offers a number of certification exams within the field of machinery lubrication. All of its exam banks are continually evaluated for clarity, accuracy, relevance and compliance with the stated body of knowledge for each area of expertise. It is imperative that the integrity of these exam banks are protected so the certifications retain their validity and no particular training entity gains an unfair advantage.

Although the organization has entertained continuous improvement reviews of exam banks in the past, one of the initial requests of the ICML board of directors was to analyze and identify opportunities for improvement within these exam banks.

A test committee was established to govern, assess and improve key processes concerning test bank evaluation and development. The committee’s purpose is to support the long-term sustainability and relevance of ICML’s certification exams.

The test question committee began by reviewing the process for question creation, peer review and complaint registration. Although some beneficial information was discovered using student complaint records, the majority of improvement opportunities were determined using exam performance statistics. Historical pass rates for all individual questions within the bank revealed those below the performance percentage threshold. Any question performing below this threshold is a candidate for further evaluation.

Hugh Edmondson, the test question committee chairman and secretary of the ICML board of directors, and Bryan Johnson, the test question committee vice chairman and chairman of the ICML board of directors, were selected to review offending questions and suggest improvements to the exam bank. This process yielded some interesting results and feedback.

For instance, no body of knowledge compliance issues were discovered during the question review process. The test bank was also determined to have relevant questions with an accurate answer key. Many of the questions that fell below the threshold were associated with subject matter that was not an area of focus within all industrial lubrication circles, such as crankcase lubricants. While this topic is part of the body of knowledge and thus must be represented within the test bank, it should be recognized as an area of opportunity within training circles, particularly for those students who may not have crankcase lubricants within their prospective area of professional responsibility.

Virtually all questions that fell below the 25-percent threshold contained some opportunity to improve clarity with simplified language. This was the area where most of the improvements were made.

As the initial analysis of the Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) exam banks continues, ICML is excited about the preliminary results and improvements. The organization looks forward to continuing its efforts to sustain clear, accurate, relevant and compliant test banks for future certification needs.

About the Author

Hugh Edmondson is a certified reliability professional with 21 years of industrial engineering and manufacturing experience. A veteran of the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet, Hugh has a bachelor’s degree in control systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in business administration from San Diego State University. He has obtained certification credentials from Naval Reactors, the Department of Energy, the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals, BMGI as a Six Sigma Black Belt, and the International Council for Machinery Lubrication.