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Research Library

Professional Exams

The Professional Exam constitutes an integral part of many contemporary professional integrity systems.


Author(s): Hugh Breakey and Charles Sampford

The ‘Professional Exam’ refers to a course of exams, usually designed and administered by a Professional Organisation, to assess the expert knowledge of aspiring professionals and – in concert with other mechanisms – to accredit them for entry into the profession. The term typically refers to written or online exams (multiple-choice, short answer or essay), but is sometimes employed to connote a broader suite of assessment tools, including simulations, role-plays and practical tasks measuring oral skills.

This title explains:

  • The history of the professional exam;
  • The professional exam’s strategic placement within an array of further mechanisms for ensuring knowledge expertise across the profession;
  • The several distinct functions the professional exam can fill, depending on how it is implemented; and
  • Potential risks and limitations in employing the professional exam.


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