Volunteer subject matter expert Jennifer Hu, CTS®, explains that revisions to the CTS exam won’t change your current study plans.
Every five years, as part of its American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation, the CTS exam goes through a revalidation process. To kickstart the effort, several volunteer subject matter experts look at what has been, what is, and what should be, and make suggestions accordingly.
A relative newcomer to the AV industry, AV systems designer Jennifer Hu, CTS®, was a valuable voice in the recent discussions on proposed revisions to the CTS exam. Hu studied for and attained her CTS certification in 2015, shortly after joining the San Diego office of technology design and consulting firm Idibri.
“I was invited to participate, along with nine other CTS holders from all different walks of the industry and life,” says Hu, who has also been involved in the AVIXA Women’s Council and the Young AV Professionals Council. “I was able to represent designers as well as people who are new to CTS.”
She says it’s important to know that the people who revalidate the exam guidelines and write the test questions are a diverse group of actual AV professionals who have experience and expertise in the field.
“We are a group of volunteers who have already earned our CTS certification and want to make sure that the CTS maintains its value and credibility. The group was made up of people from around the world with varying levels of experience in the AV industry. We had people who work as designers, installers, consultants, technicians, technology managers, and manufacturer representatives. It was important to have a diverse group of people to represent the wide range of people who are interested in becoming CTS certified,” she says.
The mission for the group was to re-examine the CTS Job Task Analysis (JTA) and the CTS Exam Content Outline. The JTA identifies the knowledge and skills necessary for a professional in the AV industry, while the Exam Content Outline determines the content that should be included on the CTS exam and designates the number of questions related to each task that are on the exam. Updating the JTA is essential for revalidating the test, which in turn informs the question writers and the study guide.
“It was important that the revisions to the JTA reflected changes in technology and the industry to keep the test questions relevant. A certification needs to be up to date because it measures a person’s knowledge and skills and is an indication of how well they can do their job,” explains Hu. “Someone who is studying for the exam shouldn’t have to learn about outdated methods or technologies that they’re never going to use in real life.”
She acknowledges that the revisions weren’t drastic; it was mostly about reorganizing the questions and making sure the topics are relevant to the core demographic of CTS candidates.
“As we were revising the JTA, we had to keep reminding ourselves that the exam is meant to be taken by someone who has been in the AV industry for about six months. In the JTA, there is a distinction between ‘knowledge of’ and ‘skill in.’ For example, a person who is only six months into their AV career may need to have knowledge about project management activities, but is probably not conducting them as part of their job. We wanted to make sure that items in the JTA are accurately separated into the knowledge and skills categories,” she says.
The updated Job Task Analysis and Exam Content Outline will be included in the CTS Candidate Handbook and will be used as the basis for writing test questions and as a study aid for people working toward their CTS certification, which Hu sees as a great way for people to demonstrate their foundational knowledge and qualifications in the AV industry as well as an essential stepping stone for the specialized CTS-D and CTS-I credentials. “There really isn’t another AV certification as well known or recognized in the industry,” says Hu, who is currently working toward gaining her CTS-D certification.
“We were essentially editing the guidelines for writing the test and we’ve handed it off to the question writers now,” she says. “It was a fun process, learning how the test is made and how the questions are revised. I also got to meet a lot of great people in the industry!”