ACS Exams began as a Division of Chemical Education project in September 1930 by many of the same pioneers who founded the Division in 1921 and the Journal of Chemical Education in 1923. The first chair of the Examinations Committee was Dr. Otto M. Smith of Oklahoma A & M College (now, Oklahoma State University). The first ACS chemistry test, in general chemistry, was released in 1934 and a new general chemistry test was released annually until the beginning of World War II. The qualitative analysis test series began in 1939; the organic test series in 1942; and the quantitative analysis series began in 1944. High school tests were added in 1957. During World War II, the committee produced both civilian and military forms for the US Armed Forces Institute. The military forms were kept secret.
After World War II, the examinations program was expanded to include virtually every undergraduate course in chemistry. Dr. Smith retired as chairman of the Examinations Committee in 1946 and the Division appointed Dr. Theodore Ashford to chair the committee. Dr. Theodore Ashford held that post until 1986, when ill health forced him to retire. Dr. Jeff Davis of the University of South Florida served as acting Director of the Institute through 1987. St. Louis University housed the examinations program from 1950 to 1960; and the University of South Florida from 1960 until 1987.
In 1987 Dr. Dwaine Eubanks was appointed Director and the Institute was moved to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Lucy Pryde Eubanks participated extensively in the activities of the Institute and was appointed Associate Director in 1988. The Institute was moved to Clemson, South Carolina in 1992, when Dr. Eubanks joined the faculty of Clemson University.
In 2002, Dr. Thomas Holme was appointed Director and the Institute was moved once again, to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). The first Associate Director appointed was also at UWM, Dr. Kristen Murphy.
In 2015, Dr. Murphy was appointed Director of ACS Exams Institute and the present and permanent location of the business operations were moved to Berthoud, Colorado. Dr. Jeffrey Raker, University of Southern Florida, was appointed Associate Director.
Although initially called the Examinations Committee, the name was changed in 1984 to Examinations Institute to better reflect the broad scope of assessment activities that were being carried out. An eight-member Board of Trustees was appointed by the DivCHED Executive Committee to oversee the operation of the Institute. Members of the Board serve three-year terms.
The Operations of the Examinations Institute are overseen by the Board of Trustees – a committee of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society.
Scope of Examinations Institute Programs
Since 1988, the Examinations Institute has broadened its mission to include every aspect of chemistry assessment. While paper-and-pencil tests for end-of-course use and for placement examinations continue as important parts of the program, the Institute now sponsors the development of new types of tests; including, for example, both a conceptual exam and a laboratory safety exam released in 1996. Test-item banks for high school chemistry and for general chemistry are provided for teachers who seek high quality questions to use on their classroom tests. Small-scale laboratory assessment materials are now available from the Examinations Institute. The Institute also publishes a booklet Writing Tests and Interpreting Test Statistics, as well as analyzing statistical data for chemistry teachers.
Recent additions to the products available are student study guides for the General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry exams. These items have been very popular with students, and provide a fundraising opportunity for Student Affiliates groups.
How to Become Involved
The value of assessment materials to the chemical education community is a direct result of volunteer efforts of hundreds of high school and college chemistry educators from throughout the United States. The programs of the Examinations Institute provide an excellent way to become involved in national programs of the Division of Chemical Education, and we always welcome volunteers. The best way to begin is to offer your service on a test committee in your area of specialization. Send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, complete address (including phone, FAX, and email), and a short paragraph describing your professional background and teaching situation.