CPIA Item Writing Instructions

CPIAs have the option to earn continuing education credit hours by submitting exam items (exam questions) for approval. Credential holders can earn two credit hours for every five questions accepted by the CPIA Council up to a maximum of 10 credits.

The CPIA Council reserves the right to accept or deny items, and to require item authors to revise their questions in order to conform with the specifications listed on this page. Download a PDF of these instructions.


All questions must be in multiple-choice format, with four plausible answer options and one correct option. The options cannot include "all of the above" or "none of the above."

The question stem must either appear in question form or as an incomplete statement:

Question Form Incomplete Statement
Who was the first President of the United States?

a. Thomas Jefferson

b. George Washington

c. Samuel Adams

d. John Hancock

The first President of the United States was

a. Thomas Jefferson

b. George Washington

c. Samuel Adams

d. John Hancock

Incorrect answer options are oftentimes referred to as distractors. When developing distractors, authors should make sure that they have different meanings from the correct answer, and that all four options have similar structures, so a candidate would not be able to choose the correct answer solely based on grammar or appearance.

Authors should also avoid writing question stems that contain negative statements, such as "Which person has not served as President of the United States?"

Content and References
Questions must relate to a topic covered in the CPIA Body of Knowledge/Content Outline and be based on information necessary for an institutional IACUC administrator. The correct answer must be founded within the Key References. Both the Body of Knowledge/Content Outline and the Key References can be found in the CPIA Handbook.

Personal opinions, institutional policies and procedures, and species-specific questions should not form the basis of test items.


Please submit your examination items via email to the CPIA Council at certification@primr.org at least three months prior to the date of certification expiration. Your documentation should include the following:

  • Exam items and four plausible answer options
  • Correct answer
  • Content area the question covers
  • Key Reference (including the section/chapter, if applicable) to which the question relates

Sample Examination Items

Please note that the correct answers are in bold, and the Key References to which each question relate are also included.

Exam Instructions: In the following questions, choose the one best answer.

Which of the following is a required member of the IACUC?

a. Institutional official

b.Laboratory animal technician

c. Individual not otherwise affiliated with the institution

d.Representative from a local animal advocacy organization

Key Reference: PHS Policy IV.A.3.b, AWAR 2.31(b)(3)(ii). Guide pg 24

Note that all four options are job titles/descriptions
According to USDA Regulations, an IACUC may have no more than how many members from any one administrative unit?

a. 3




Key Reference: AWAR 2.31(b)(4)

Note that all four options are numbers within a similar range; if one of the options were to be a number quite different from than the others (e.g., 30), that would be an indication
The IACUC may suspend an activity only after

a. A vote of a majority of the quorum present at a convened meeting.

b.A discussion with the Principal Investigator takes place.

c.The institutional official has been notified in writing of the event.

d.All fact finding of the event has been conducted and documented.

Key Reference: PHS Policy IV.C.6, AWAR 2.31(d)(xi)(6)

Training and instruction of personnel must include guidance in which of the following areas?

a. Effective writing of animal use proposals

b. Proper use of personal protective equipment

c. Appropriate communication with animal activist groups

d. Research or testing methods that limit the use of animals

Key References: PHS Policy IV.A1.g, AWAR 2.32(c)(2)



If you have any questions, please contact the PRIM&R office by email at certification@primr.org or by calling 617.423.4112, ext. 123.