The APA® program is administered by the APA® Board of Examiners. The APA® Board of Examiners functions independently of COPAS in its oversight of the Accredited Petroleum Accountant® certification activities. This includes exam development and administration, eligibility requirements to sit for the exam and then earn the APA® certification, issuance of certifications, criteria for maintaining APA® certifications through enhanced continued competence, and developing and implementing disciplinary procedures.
The APA® Board of Examiners upholds the established policies and procedures in maintaining the integrity of the examination. The APA® certification will be awarded only to individuals who have met the eligibility requirements to take the certification exam and demonstrate that they meet or exceed the established level of professional competence by passing the certification examination.
The APA® Board of Examiners oversees all administrative acts of the credential, including management of all APA® meetings and processes focused on the APA® certification, exam development, disciplinary committees, and management of business relationships with Meazure Learning (formerly Scantron Corporation), the testing service provider contracted by COPAS on behalf of the APA® Board of Examiners for the development, delivery, scoring, validation and security of the APA® certification examination.
The APA® Board of Examiners works collaboratively with Meazure Learning to uphold rigorous standards for the APA® certification exam. Meazure Learning’s exam development process follows professional testing industry best practices to ensure that individuals who are awarded the APA® certification meet minimum standards of knowledge necessary to perform the duties of a petroleum accountant.
All APA® exam questions and exam forms are developed by national and representative panels of industry subject matter experts, who are recognized by The APA® Board of Examiners for their expertise in one or more areas relating to the APA® certification program. The APA® examination is developed using a process guided by standards accepted by the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. These steps are facilitated by the psychometric team at Meazure Learning and include the following:
- Job Analysis: A group of industry experts analyzes the specific knowledge required for competent job performance of petroleum accountants working in various settings. This knowledge is categorized into content domains and subdomains and further organized into an exam content outline.
- Job Analysis Validation Study: A survey is conducted to determine the validity of the job analysis. The survey includes the exam content outline developed in the job analysis meeting and is sent to a large national sample of petroleum accounting professionals to seek their input on how important and frequently required the knowledge included in the exam content outline is in their jobs. The data gathered in this process is used to determine the percentage of the exam devoted to each content domain and subdomain.
- Item Writing: A national and representative panel of industry experts develops exam questions that are tied to exam specifications and referenced to acceptable texts or documents. Once completed, each exam item, or question, must be validated by at least two subject matter experts who were not involved in writing the question.
- Exam Assembly: Meazure Learning assembles a draft version of the examination, using the validated items in the APA® item bank and following the exam content outline. The assembled exam is then reviewed, modified as necessary, and approved by an exam committee. The finalized exam is then forwarded to Meazure Learning for final editing.
- Passing Score Determination: The passing standard on any certification exam is set for the purpose of public protection. A process called the Modified Angoff technique is used to determine the number of questions that a candidate needs to answer correctly on the APA® exam in order to demonstrate that he or she possesses sufficient knowledge about petroleum accounting to practice competently and without causing harm.
- Continual Evaluation: Following every exam administration window, a statistical analysis of every exam question and exam form occurs. Any questions that do not meet predetermined statistical criteria for validity, fairness, and effectiveness will be modified and pilot tested or replaced. Exam questions and exam forms will also be retired once they have been viewed by a large number of exam candidates.
The APA® Board of Examiners has a pool of committed and qualified volunteer subject matter experts (SME) for the certification program. Each SME must hold the certification or qualifications that are equivalent to or exceed the certification, and must work in the role of the certified professional, or supervise or educate professionals who serve in the specific certificate holder’s role. Some SMEs are qualified to sit on multiple committees due to their combination of credentials, education, and work experience. Due to professional roles and personal commitments, most subject matter experts are not available for every possible meeting for which they are qualified. Therefore, the Board of Examiners assembles ‘ad hoc’ committees of qualified SMEs for each certification committee meeting. The Board of Examiners takes care to ensure that each committee includes representation from the major areas of function for the credential, and that it is representative of the geographic and gender distribution of the certified population.
The APA® Board of Examiners recognizes that equal opportunity is fundamental to equality in all forms of human endeavor. Therefore, all administrative practices and procedures will be nondiscriminatory on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, lifestyle, national origin, gender, physical disability, or sexual orientation. This includes all certification and exam development activities. APA® subject matter experts go through training at the beginning of each certification committee meeting and before virtual item writing to ensure that the objectives of the meeting are understood and that the committee understands how to write exam questions that are equally appropriate for all members of the target population of candidates and that are unbiased and objective.
Disclosure of examination content or information to persons outside of the exam development committees is prohibited and constitutes a breach of security, compromising and invalidating the examination and certification in question. All exam development members are required to sign NonDisclosure agreements prior to participation, agreeing to abide by security procedures established by the psychometric staff to prevent compromise of any examination.