The Certified Master Inspector Exam (CMIE) is a valid and reliable advanced-level exam that assesses the skills and knowledge required to perform home inspections at a master inspector level of competence. It is not to be confused with the CMI Formula.
The CMIE's purpose is to serve the public by providing an advanced competence-assessment tool for experienced inspectors to distinguish themselves under the Certified Master Inspector® professional designation. The CMIE has the secondary purpose of serving governments and regulatory boards by providing an assurance of a level of competency for home inspectors that is above minimum standards, specifically for licensing-reciprocity purposes. Because passing the CMIE demonstrates a knowledge and skill level that surpasses the mere governmentally licensed or regulatory-compliant level of the home inspection profession, the CMIE has the goal of being adopted for licensing-reciprocity purposes between states and provinces. The CMIE is not a minimum standard exam and does not assess basic knowledge; therefore, it should not be used as an entrance exam for the inspection profession's trade associations. Other minimum standard exams, such as EBPHI's NHIE and InterNACHI's Online Inspector Exam, are better suited for such purposes.
The CMIE was developed using a blueprint based largely on InterNACHI's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, with test methodology based primarily on standards for education and psychological testing by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education's Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The CMIE also relies on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies' Standards for Accreditation, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other applicable standards.
The CMIE, developed by InterNACHI over many years, measures the professional competence of home inspectors based on the critical job components and delineated skill sets from its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, as well as interviews, mock inspections, surveys, observations, group discussions, and data collected from the 75,000+ exams already taken. With the industry's most popular exams, quizzes and online education, combined with its 255,000-page website and 804,000-post message board (both of which are the largest in the industry), InterNACHI, the largest home inspection association in the world, collects and possesses more home inspection exam question/answer data and industry information than all other private and government entities combined.
Unlike other home inspection examinations that may use a panel of experts (if at all) to review and validate each question once, the CMIE exploits its ongoing access to almost every expert in the field. The questions/answers and any related performance issues stand the test of time under continuous scrutiny through InterNACHI's open-to-all Question of the Day, InterNACHI's open message board, InterNACHI's open-to-all existing exams and quizzes, InterNACHI's online education, InterNACHI's exam prep tools, InterNACHI's expert trainers/educators, and InterNACHI's various professional committees. In essence, everything the industry knows, every question ever asked to test that knowledge, and every right and wrong answer ever given to those questions are forever examined to verify technical accuracy and content validity. Other existing home inspector examinations admit that their content is based solely on one old role-delineation study. Exploitation of InterNACHI's massive data-collection abilities has permitted the build-up of a supplemental bank of psychometrically sound items (questions) that are rotated into the CMIE pool, replacing obsolete items with items of similar content and difficulty. This is especially important in the home inspection industry where the pool of items used in licensing exams is widely known and circulated. The massive culling of this industry-wide data also provides a vast, published item reference in support of legal defensibility.
The CMIE covers eight major content domains, all of them job-related. They are listed as follows, along with the weight-percentage that each domain carries:
- industry terms: 5%;
- building and mechanical systems, including roof, exterior, basement, foundation, crawlspace, structural, heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows and interior: 20%;
- inspection methods, techniques, defect recognition and analysis: 31%;
- common building and construction codes: 4%;
- wood-destroying organisms: 8%;
- health, safety and environmental issues, including lead, asbestos, radon and mold: 6%;
- condition documentation, report generation and client communication: 15%; and
- professional practice and ethics: 11%.
The CMIE is an open-book exam. Exam-takers are free to bring and use any written notes or printed (non-digital) reference material during the exam; however, the use of hand-held electronics or laptops is prohibited. Calculators are also prohibited and unnecessary. The items in the CMIE are biased toward application, analysis, dynamic problem-solving, and defect recognition, where the exam-taker demonstrates learning at a higher cognitive level by applying his/her knowledge on new material. New material includes a referenced photo or diagram, or a situational/hypothetical stem question. The CMIE can be administered open-book as it simulates the situations that home inspectors face every day. Biasing the CMIE toward application, analysis, dynamic problem-solving and defect recognition gives the exam a high degree of validity for predicting inspector success in the field. Other existing home inspection licensing exams are based on recall. These minimum standard exams do nothing more than test the exam-taker's ability to remember the correct answers and re-state facts.
Because InterNACHI is already the largest provider and administrator of home inspection exams and quizzes, inappropriate, poorly worded, ambiguous or questionable questions and/or answers are quickly recognized and revised or removed from future versions. In addition, new items are developed as the industry evolves. With exception of the lightly weighted content domain industry terms, the CMIE does minimize the effects of ancillary skills (such as terminology familiarity) by using commonly used phrases, including synonyms (where available). This also minimizes the effect of geographic bias so prominent in the inspection industry.
Each stem question in the CMIE is meaningful in and of itself. In other words, the questions are worded so that the exam-taker could predict the correct answer after merely reading the question. For instance, Q. Radon... A. exposure increases one's chance of contracting lung cancer would be worded as follows: Q. Radon exposure increases one's chance of... A. contracting lung cancer. (Note that this is not an actual item found in the CMIE.)
Negatively stated questions appear on the CMIE only when necessary. For instance, when technically correct, "should not slope downward" would be worded "should slope upward" on the CMIE. Negative stems that include terms such as "except for" or "does not include" are avoided in the CMIE.
Because use of "all of the above" and "none of the above" should not be used as distracters (incorrect answer options), the CMIE does not incorporate such answer options at all. Because very few things in professional settings are "always" or "never" true, the CMIE uses such terms judiciously.
InterNACHI formally and informally validates every question and every answer choice (correct and incorrect). Each item is validated to ensure that the knowledge and/or skill tested by the item is essential for one to be deemed a Certified Master Inspector®, validated to assure that the keyed correct answer is, in fact, correct without ambiguity, and validated to ensure that the incorrect answer options are, in fact, incorrect, but still plausible enough to provide distraction. Distracters (incorrect answer choices) found within the CMIE are not tricky or deceptive, but instead employ common errors.
The CMIE contains 250 questions. Exam-takers are
given five hours to complete the exam. This is ample time to answer
every question. With the exception of the first few questions, which are non-scored, easy, and designed to help exam-takers acquaint themselves with the exam-taking process, all items are drawn randomly from the eight domain pools while maintaining their relative percentages.
As part of the psychometric analysis performed on the CMIE, each question's pass/fail rate is calculated and recorded each time the question is answered so that the question's difficulty is quantified over time. Regular checks comparing the answers given by experienced, skilled inspectors with those offered by inexperienced, unskilled inspectors verify that each question contributes to testing the exam-taker's competency. Also, at the end of every exam session, descriptive statistics that are customized for each exam-taker are displayed, along with a full-color pie chart depicting that particular exam-taker's weaknesses.
Even though each item on the CMIE has only one correct or clearly best answer, the CMIE's scoring system permits a modest reward for the next best answer choice and a severe penalty for a very wrong answer choice.
The CMIE's scoring system is much more advanced than existing home inspector exams to the benefit of public safety. Each item is validated to determine the relative importance in assessing the exam-taker's knowledge and skill, as is each answer to each question. Then, each is weighted accordingly. Not only are the questions in the CMIE weighted, but the answers are weighted as well, in the sense that an exam-taker is penalized severely for incorrectly answering questions that indicate that he/she could cause physical harm to the public, but not greatly rewarded for correctly answering such questions. This same scoring is used for questions that test minimum competency. Likewise, difficult questions (defined as questions that lie outside or nearly outside the scope of a home inspection) are weighted such that the exam-taker is not severely penalized for answering incorrectly. Other existing home inspector exams' questions and answers are all weighted the same in terms of scoring.
The CMIE is a proctored, five-hour exam that is administered by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) in various locations throughout North America. The cost to take the CMIE is $200. InterNACHI has contracted with more than 350 community colleges, universities and home inspection schools to assist in administration of the CMIE. One may take the CMIE as often as one wishes, with no wait period between attempts. Exam-takers must bring and present photo identification. Acceptable forms of photo identification include a driver's license, state identification card, passport, or military ID.
Exam-takers are free to drink beverages during the exam. Exam-takers are free to take a break during the exam, but the five-hour time clock does not stop. It is unlikely that any exam-taker will need more than the generous five-hour time limit given, even with breaks. Obviously, exam proctors and administrators are unable to help with answering questions found on the exam, and exam-takers may not talk with each other during the exam.
All CMIE testing facilities meet guidelines that ensure handicap accessibility, quiet and security, and comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act in accommodating exam takers who, because of a disability, require special arrangements.
The Certified Master Inspectors Examination (CMIE) is the home inspection industry's only valid, reliable and legally defensible, advanced-level examination. Certified Master Inspector® is a U.S. Registered Trademark #78325155, trademarked in Canada, and a professional designation attained only by the very best inspectors.