News from the Exams Institute, Spring 2016

Greetings from ACS Exams where change has become part of the normal operating procedure.

We welcome four new colleagues to our Board of Trustees: Deborah Exton from the University of Oregon, MaryKay Orgill from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Erica Posthuma-Adams from University High School in Indiana, and Carmen Valdez Gauthier from Florida Southern College. We also say farewell to long-time Board members: Stacey Lowery-Bretz from Miami University, Sue Schelble from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Don Wink from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Thank you all for all you have done for ACS Exams.

This year will be a year of transition as we venture into a new model for business operations. This began in late 2015 when we hired Julie Adams as our Business Operations Manager. Julie has been an integral part of our leadership team at ACS Exams managing the online operations previously. In her new role, she will entirely manage the business component of ACS Exams including all processing and fulfillment of exams (online and on paper), study guides and practice exams as well as pursuing larger business goals of marketing, online delivery options, and product development. A key part of this transition also involves the move of the business operations from Iowa State University to our new home in Berthoud, CO, where we have purchased a “commercial condominium” that will house all warehouse and business operations. We will move in stages with the first stage complete by March 1st with the moving of all exams and business files. The second stage will entail moving all study guides and business-related archive materials taking place by June. New personnel hired in Colorado include office personnel, Mackenzie Boedeker, and shipping clerk, Kyle Channell. These moves have been designed to have no disruption of service or order fulfillment for either tests or study guides. Our contact information has not changed and calling 1-800-854-1672 will still connect you to a friendly voice at ACS Exams ready to help you. This is an exciting time for ACS Exams, and I fully expect this will preserve the long-term health of the institute as well as the opportunity to evolve as needed.

The transition of ACS Exams also included the move of all intellectual property components to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. All exam and exam-development archives will be housed in our space at UW-Milwaukee as well as serving as the home for research and development. Part of this included the hiring of Jessica Reed as a postdoctoral researcher in September of last year. Jessica has been working diligently on a number of projects with one in particular that will provide a mechanism for users of any test to refine or specialize the items included in the norms (and generate a new norm subset for percentile comparison). Starting in January, 2016, Sachel Villafane began working as postdoctoral researcher with our Associate Director, Jeff Raker, at the University of South Florida. Sachel has also been passionately working on a number of projects with a focus on examining how we test in analytical chemistry and instrumental analysis. We are proud to have such a fantastic research and development team and look forward to the outcome of these projects.

While there are new faces and many changes at ACS Exams, we still continue to face issues related to maintaining the security of the intellectual property of ACS Exams. Although security issues such as illegal postings of scans of the study guides are not new, new challenges related to technology are arguably becoming a more prominent concern. We have faced this recently with concerns over the use of the Organic Chemistry 2008 Exam. To address this, we have communicated this concern with all users of this exam offering an opportunity to field test the Organic Chemistry 2016 Exam in Fall, 2015, as well as purchase the newly released exam available March 1st. Unfortunately, these incidents are not unique and continue to be part of the regular security issues that we face. We encourage all members of our community to reach out if they have any questions regarding the security protocols and requirements for copyrighted material and continue to encourage open and regular discussions with students about intellectual property and scientific ethics. Thank you to all in the community who value scientific integrity.

Spring 2016 is also a busy time for exam development. We have released, or are in the process of releasing, six exams with another eight committees meeting in San Diego. This also means that this is a busy trial-testing time, and we are always looking for faculty and instructors interested in participating. In particular, this spring and/or next fall we are trial testing exams in analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis, biochemistry, organic chemistry (first term), general chemistry (full year), general chemistry paired questions exams (first and second terms) and the diagnostic of undergraduate chemical knowledge exam (DUCK for senior undergraduates). Anyone interested in trial testing should contact us. As a reminder, all components of trial testing are free to the instructors or faculty members as we will provide all exams, answer sheets and instructions. Thank you to the hundreds of faculty and instructors who have already contributed to the exam development process.

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 and look forward to an exciting year!

Best to you all,
Kristen Murphy

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