June 9, 2012 Hatem

CertML, Open Markup Language for Certification exams

I was looking recently for an exam markup language and I was surprised there is none ! I had some mock questions in text format that I wanted to turn in a standard format then develop an exam engine for personal use, especially that I’ve found many limitations in most exam engines available on the net.

The idea that I have questions in different sections or knowledge areas, then the final exam should be a selection of 20% from the first knowledge area, 30% from the second … etc. Also many real exams provides additional questions that are not marked. For example an exam with 100 questions, including 10 questions non marked, so the final score will be based on the 90 only. Interesting if you want to try real exam conditions.

Let’s take a sample exam, we can have the format as below :

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<CERTML xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="CertML.xsd" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
 <title>Sample Mock Exam</title>
 <description>Exam description</description>
 <meta name="CertAuthority" value="Sample1" />
 <meta name="ExamCode" value="SPL-001" />
 <meta name="Version" value="1.0" />
 <meta name="CreateDate" value="6/7/2012" />
 <meta name="LastUpdate" value="6/7/2012" />
 <meta name="questions" value="100" />
 <meta name="unscored" value="0" />
 <meta name="PassingScore" value="75" />
 <meta name="time" value="120" />
 <section id="1" name="section1" value="30"/>
 <section id="2" name="section2" value="24" />
 <section id="3" name="section3" value="46" />
 <question id="1" section="1" complexity="4" correct="3">
 <option value="1">Option 1</option>
 <option value="2">Option 2</option>
 <option value="3">Option 3</option>
 <option value="4">Option 4</option>
 <reference>Reference book page 13</reference>

We can easily write an engine to parse this XML and generate a final exam. This is just a proposal for a new open standard for certification exams, I might have missed few issues, so your comments are very welcome.  If you know an existing format that will be very good also.

CertML XML Schema available here
CertML DTD is available here
CertML Sample Mock Exam here.

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