CTA Handbook


National Licensing and Certification Organization (NLCO)
Certified Testing Administrator (CTA)
Candidate Handbook
Published by National Licensing and Certification Organization LLC (NLCO)
PO Box 232
Lititz, PA 17543 
Copyright © 2015 NLCO LLC
All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of NLCO LLC.  Published in electronic format in the United States of America.
About This Handbook

This Handbook serves as the principal source of information for those applying to take the Certified Testing Administrator exam.  Since every situation and every applicable rule cannot be cited in a document like this, other NLCO policies, practices, and instructions, may also apply.

This Handbook provides the information you will need about eligibility requirements; application procedures and fees; examination scheduling; examination content and scoring. You are advised to periodically check for any changes in NLCO policies, requirements, or forms that may be made after this Handbook is published. Although NLCO gives applicants and candidates as much advance notice as possible when policies and procedures change, it is always your responsibility to make sure that you are fully informed about the current requirements and policies. You should also consult our website to learn about any updates that may be introduced regarding eligibility, exam administrations, exam content or other policies.

The policies and procedures in this Handbook may be modified, amended, or cancelled by NLCO at any time, with or without notice. When policies are changed, you may be notified by e-mail, or by the issuance of a revised edition of this Handbook. This edition of the Handbook supersedes all prior policies or procedures as to the subjects addressed in it and all representations, oral or written. NLCO strongly recommends carefully reading and thoroughly understanding every topic in this Candidate Handbook.

Contacting Us

If you are unsure about an examination policy or procedure, contact NLCO at admin@tests.com.

About NLCO

National Licensing and Certification Organization LLC (NLCO) specializes in the development and administration of certification tests.  It was established in Delaware in 2014. 

Our mission is to:
  • Develop fair, valid and reliable certification exams to determine professional competence.
  • Provide education, services and guidance to certification candidates that helps them succeed in accordance with industry and professional standards.
  • Improve the standards of the industries that we serve through cooperation with entities that share this objective, including other accrediting agencies, governmental bodies, and groups whose areas of interest may coincide with those of NLCO.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and experience.
About the Certified Testing Administrator Credential

The Certified Testing Administrator (CTA) exam is designed for testing and assessment professionals whose primary tasks are operational.  The emphasis is on testing and assessment program implementation rather than creation, and the purpose is primarily within the organization rather than a testing and assessment department.

Eligibility Requirements
To become eligible to be certified as an Certified Testing Administrator and be authorized by NLCO to present and use the CTA credential, the following steps must be completed:
  1. An application must be completed and submitted on the NLCO website.
  2. All applicable fees must be paid.
  3. Once the application and fees have been submitted and approved by NLCO, the applicant will be authorized to take NLCO’s certification exam.
Before you submit an application to take the CTA exam you must make sure that you meet the criteria for eligibility.
The CTA certification is designed for the Testing and Assessment professional whom:
  • Focuses on executing Testing and Assessment programs (e.g., Managers, Test Administers, or Instructors);
  • Handles operational matters (i.e., selects, reviews, or administers assessments);
  • Works with or reports to individuals whose primary responsibility within the organization is the management of assessment programs;
  • Has at least one (1) to five (5) years of professional-level work experience, depending on education;
  • Holds a job that focuses on whole organizational assessment responsibilities rather than in a Research or Psychometric department;
  • Follows policies and guidelines for test administration; and
  • Seeks to gain credibility through increasing Testing and Assessment knowledge and experience.
Exam candidates must meet one of the exam eligibility requirements below to take the exam.
  • A minimum of one (1) year of experience in a Testing and Assessment professional position with a Master’s degree or higher
  • A minimum of two (2) years of experience a Testing and Assessment professional position with a Bachelor’s degree
  • A minimum of four (5) years of experience in a Testing and Assessment professional position with less than a Bachelor’s degree

To meet exam eligibility requirements, you must be able to demonstrate your work experience in a Testing and Assessment position. Work experience can be demonstrated by having:
» Direct supervision of those who deliver Testing and Assessment services, OR overall accountability for a specific organizational function related to assessment.
» Independent decision-making about important matters AND some testing and assessment knowledge.

Work experience and job titles tend to be:
  • Educators
  • Instructors
  • Test Administrators
  • Higher-Level Management
  • Training Personnel
All managers, supervisors, instructors or administrative staff have some testing and assessment responsibilities. However, if testing and assessment is not part of at least 1/4 of your job responsibilities, you are not eligible to take the exam. If selected for an exam application audit, you must provide official documentation, such as an official job description, verifying the required professional testing and assessment work experience.
Application Process and Requirements
Individuals applying to take the CTA exam must complete and submit the application form along with the proper fee.  The application is online.
Your submission of your application electronically means that you understand and agree to certain conditions as part of your application. Specifically:
  1. You acknowledge and agree to abide by all applicable NLCO policies and procedures, including the consequences of noncompliance. 
  2. The information entered on or in connection with your application is accurate and correct to the best of your knowledge. If the information is not true or accurate, your application may be denied.
  3. You authorize NLCO to obtain additional information about your qualifications and application for testing.
Approval Process
Submission of an application does not automatically guarantee your eligibility to take the CTA exam. Once your application is received, there may be a processing period to process your payment and review your application.
After your application is approved, NLCO will issue a Notice to Schedule (NTS) to you via email.
Be certain to review your NTS for accuracy. Your name should match the name on the identification that you will present to the test proctor.
About the Exam
The test consists of 100 test questions designed to be completed in 2 hours. The exam covers the following subject areas:
  1. Test Analysis and Reporting - Understanding the meaning of a test
    score; communicating scores to parents and other stakeholders. 
  2. Test Development – How to write test items, various formats of test
    items; principles for writing good test items. 
  3. Test Proctoring and Security – Steps to take when proctoring an exam to
    maintain test security; threats to test security (including student
  4. Test Selection - What types of tests are available; what is the
    appropriateness of different test types based on assessment goals; what do
    you look for in an assessment when evaluating its quality, 
  5. Test Reliability – The meaning and purpose of reliability in testing; what
    types of reliability are important based on the purpose of the test. 
  6. Test Scoring - How are test scores computed; what types of scores are
    available; what do they mean 
  7. Test Theory - basic principles; recognition of error; use of
  8. Test Validity, Reliability, Fairness - how these concepts are used
    in selecting an appropriate test. 
  9. Legal Issues in Testing - how to avoid discrimination in testing 
  10. Testing in Practice - basic understanding and recognition of test
    use in other contexts (education, psychology, certification, etc.); what
    types of assessments are used. 
Scoring the Exam
Exam results are reported as Pass or Fail to indicate whether a candidate demonstrated the knowledge required to meet the standards of competence defined by NLCO and industry experts.
The passing standard for the CTA exam is set by NLCO using recommendations from professionals in testing and psychometrics.

The passing or “cut-score” for the exam is empirically determined and validated. NLCO uses the statistical Modified Angoff method to decide how many questions a candidate must answer correctly to pass the exam. The Modified Angoff method is commonly used to set standards in the testing industry.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) are briefed on the Angoff method and take the test with the minimally competent examinee in mind. SMEs are then asked to provide estimates for each question of the proportion of “minimally competent” examinees that would be expected to get the item correct. The estimates are generally based on the item’s difficulty value.  For example, an item rated as 50 percent indicates that the group expects half of the examinees should answer the item correctly.  This is a more difficult item than one that is rated as 75 percent. Several rounds or reviews are generally conducted with SMEs allowed to modify their estimates given different types of information (e.g., actual examinee performance information for each item, other SME estimates, etc.). The final determination of the cut score is then determined.
Achieving Certification
If the applicant passes the exam, the exam result notice will inform the applicant that he or she is a certified testing administrator according to NLCO’s standards and authorized to use the CTA credential.  An applicant who is informed that he or she failed the exam, will not be certified or authorized to use the CTA credential.
Once you have received notification from NLCO of passing the exam and of certification, you may represent and advertise yourself as certified.  Typically, the acronym CTA is used after or in relation to one’s name to indicate the credential.
Retaking the Exam
If a person fails the exam, he or she may retake the exam. There is no waiting time between attempts or limit on the number of attempts a person may take the certification exam.  Applicants retaking the exam must submit a new application form and pay the exam fees each time the exam is attempted.

If you believe that a decision has been made that is not consistent with NLCO’s commitment to fairness in the examination process, the matter should be brought promptly to the attention of the Executive Director. Your complaint will be investigated and there will be no retaliation against any applicant or candidate who files a complaint in good faith, even if the result of the investigation produces insufficient evidence to support the complaint.
If certain individuals with specific medical conditions require special accommodations, please complete a Request for Testing Accommodations form.
Reporting Certification to Third Parties
NLCO maintains a record of applicants and certification.  If a certified person wants NLCO to confirm a credential to a third party, like a prospective employer, a request must be submitted in writing  by the certified person that authorizes NLCO to release certification information to the third party.  The only information that will be released is whether a person is certified.
Fraud, Cheating and Forfeiture of Fees
In the event of a fraudulent application or cheating on the certification exam, NLCO reserves the right to confiscate all fees to offset any administrative or legal costs associated with the investigation and adjudication of the case.
Confidentiality Policy

The NLCO respects the privacy of all examination applicants and candidates. All materials submitted or received in connection with applications and all examination scores are held in confidence, except upon permission for disclosure from the applicant or candidate or except as required by law, including governmental licensing bodies upon appropriate written request.
Non-Discrimination Policy
The NLCO does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs, disability, marital or familial status, ancestry, national origin, nor any other category that is protected by federal law or applicable laws and regulations.
CTA Exam Development
NLCO follows certification-industry best practices to create and update all of its exams. Practicing psychometricians are involved in every step of the exam development process. The  following are the steps taken to develop exams:
  • Step 1: The exam content is based on the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.
  • Step 2: Professional psychometricians write the exam questions based on the standards.
  • Step 3: The questions are sent to another group, which checks for accuracy and proper coding.
  • Step 4: Approved questions are then “pre-tested” for purposes of psychometric assessment.
  • Step 5: Final items to appear on the test are selected.
  • Step 6: Cut-Score or passing score set during first operational administration of the test items.
Ethical Standards
Those holding a CTA credential from NLCO must commit and abide by the following:

American Psychological Association:  APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct       

American Psychological Association.  The Report of the Task Force on Test User Qualifications      

American Psychological Association Executive Summary:  The Report of the Task Force on Test User Qualifications 

American Psychological Association, Third Party Test Observers:  http://www.apa.org/science/programs/Testing and Assessment/third-party-observers.pdf
Exam Development Team
Denise Truskosky – Denise holds a doctorate in psychology and has over twenty years experience in psychometrics, applied research and statistics.  Prior to opening her own consulting business, she  was the Director of Research Operations at CTB McGraw-Hill, as well as a Research Scientist Manager.  Denise received her Doctorate degree in applied research, statistics and psychometrics from Southern Illinois University.
Mary Rehm – Mary has over fourteen years experience in the educational and assessment industry.  Currently, she is the Director of Test Development at Questar Assessments.  Prior to that, she was a psychometrician with Exemplar Global.  Mary received her Masters degree in research and evaluation from the University of Wisconsin.
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