Q1. What is Pre-PAC?

Q2. Who is the target audience for Pre-PAC?

Q3. How are the assessments and certifications used?

Q4. What competencies are addressed in each assessment? How do I know what content is covered on the test?

Q5. How do the career clusters and employability skills fit into Pre-PAC?

Q6. Do Pre-PAC products meet the federal Perkins mandates for third-party assessments and industry recognized certifications?

Q7. Are the assessments required for my secondary/post-secondary program? Who must be tested? Are Pre-PAC assessments recognized or approved for use in my state?

Q8. Who was involved in developing the assessments and certifications?

Q9. What steps have been taken to ensure that the products are valid, reliable, and psychometrically sound?

Q10. Is there a study guide available for Pre-PAC assessments?

Q11. What is the format of the assessments? Are the assessment items available for review?

Q12. What is the cut score to earn "Pre-Professional Certification"?

Q13. When are scores released to the test candidate and to the testing site?

Q14. How can scores be used by individual test candidates?

Q15. How can scores be used to document program effectiveness or promote program improvement?

Q16. What are the guidelines and procedures for administering Pre-PAC assessments?

Q17. How much do the assessments cost?

Q18. Is the assessment timed? What is the average time needed to complete an assessment?

Q19. What is the timeframe involved in Pre-PAC assessment administration? When can assessments be administered?

Q20. Why would a business, employer, or non-academic site administer and use Pre-PAC assessments?


Q1. Pre-PAC (Pre-Professional Assessment and Certification) is a premier national assessment and certification program providing an integrated system that recognizes individual competency achievement and builds value of programs through accountability (achievement levels and improvement trends), articulation possibilities, and business/industry recognition.  Through Pre-PAC, AAFCS offers a portfolio of third-party, standards-based assessments and corresponding industry certifications in a variety of content areas.  Click here to see the full portfolio of products.

Q2. Pre-PAC assessments are designed for targeted use in secondary and post-secondary family and consumer sciences programs and for employers conducting staff development and training for pre-professionals.  Eligible candidates for the pre-professional credentials have not attained a bachelor's degree.  Individuals with a bachelor's degree or higher are eligible for the AAFCS professional certifications.  The assessments have application in a broad range of education, community development, staff development, and human resource settings where there is a need to document or validate competency achievement.  

Q3. The assessments/certifications can be used to: (a) document exit-level achievement in rigorous secondary and community college programs; (b) meet federal mandates required by Perkins IV legislation; (c) facilitate seamless articulation , placement, and credit-by exam within post-secondary institutions; (d) validate competencies required for employment at the pre-professional/paraprofessional level; and (e) provide an industry-recognized certification. 

Q4. The domains/topics and competencies addressed in each assessment and certification are driven by industry standards.  In addition, they are based on relevant content standards and consistent with the National Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences Education and the National Career Clusters Initiative.  A chart illustrating the correlation of Pre-PAC products to the National FCS Standards is available. The competency lists/blueprints for each assessment are posted online.  Click here to access the "Portfolio of Products and Services", click on the assessment title in the list, and scroll down on the page to the section titled “Assessment and Certification Resources.”  The 1st bullet is the blueprint/competency list.  The 3rd bullet is a link to the Assessment Information Bulletin that also outlines the assessment content (beginning on page 7).

Q5. The assessments/certifications are consistent with the Essential Knowledge and Skills identified in the National Career Clusters Initiative.  Currently, the Pre-PAC assessments/certifications align with 11 of the 16 career clusters. Click here for the Pre-PAC Correlation Matrix to the Career Clusters.  In addition, the assessments are used to validate competencies required for employment at the pre-professional/paraprofessional level which could improve employability and be used as a hiring tool. 

Q6. Yes, the AAFCS Pre-PAC products are gold-standard, third-party assessments that meet the Perkins IV mandates and requirements at the federal level for industry-recognized certification and program accountability.   Perkins funding and guidelines vary from state to state.  Schools should check district and state policies regarding the use of Perkins funds to cover assessment costs. 

Q7. Requirements for the implementation of assessments to measure technical skill attainment (outlined in Perkins IV) in secondary and post-secondary programs vary from state to state.  Pre-PAC products are currently recognized, identified on state assessment lists, and/or approved for use in many states.   You will need to check with your state department of education, state CTE department, and/or state FCS program manager regarding state requirements, mandates, and policies for testing. 

Q8. AAFCS engaged the assistance of a broad range of esteemed business, industry, and education practitioners, leaders, and professionals from across the nation to assist in assessment and certification development.  For each assessment/certification developed, twelve-member Development Panels were convened to work with a Development Panel Coordinator.  Eight panel members represented business/industry sectors corresponding to the focus of the assessment/certification.  Additionally, there were 4 panel members who were content specialists representing secondary and postsecondary education.  The Development Panel members for each assessment are identified on each assessment webpage and in the Assessment Information Bulletin.

Q9. To be valid, an assessment needs to assure that test content is measuring what is intended to be measured. Each assessment is developed and aligned with available national and industry standards.  The assessments reflect the core competencies required in the content area as identified by the subject matter experts who participated in the development of the assessment.  Reliability of the assessments is achieved through extensive pilot testing and psychometric analysis to ensure that the assessment accurately measures the identified competencies.  Item statistics (item difficulty and item discrimination) are monitored consistently to ensure that the items are performing at acceptable levels. 

Q10. An Assessment Information Bulletin for each assessment can be downloaded from the Pre-PAC website.  The Bulletin includes an expanded competency list and sample test items.   These items are helpful to individuals to ensure adequate preparation for the assessment.   Many programs have utilized the content of the Bulletin as a tool for developing their own study guide.  To access the Bulletin, go to “Portfolio of Products and Services” page, click on the assessment title in the list, and scroll down to the section titled “Assessment and Certification Resources.”  The 3rd bullet links to the Assessment Information Bulletin.

Q11. A large bank of high quality, valid assessment items have been developed and pilot-tested for each Pre-PAC assessment.  Each assessment administered is a unique combination of 80, four-option multiple choice items randomly selected from the item bank in accordance with the assessment blueprint (regarding content and cognitive complexity).  Each of the items has only one (1) correct response. Of the 80 items presented on the assessment, 70 are scored and 10 are non-scored (used for piloting and research purposes).  The assessment is administered on-line only. There are no paper-pencil versions of the assessment available. The Assessment Information Bulletin includes an “assessment at a glance” table that indicates each topic area and the specific number of items included in the assessment.  Although the actual test items from the test bank are not available for review, the assessment blueprint and the expanded competency list are available for download on the AAFCS Pre-PAC website.  The blueprint and expanded list have been widely used to correlate and align curriculum. In addition, sample test items are included in the Assessment Information Bulletin.  To experience the appearance and navigation of the online assessment, a sample assessment is available. To access, click on the link and log in with your name and "Sample" as the group, and click "Enter." Click on the "State Capitals Demo" sample assessment and begin. Click here to access the sample assessment!

Q12. The cut scores to earn pre-professional certification for each individual assessment may vary.  The cut scores are evaluated, established, and posted on the Pre-PAC webpage annually.  Click here to access the current and complete list of certification cut scores.

Q13. Individual assessment results are available to the test candidate immediately upon submission of the assessment.  Using log-in credentials provided by AAFCS, the test site administrator and test site coordinator have access to the individual and test site results within 24 hours of test administration.  There are a variety of standard reports available to the test site.  There are no additional costs for those reports.  The reports include:  score list reports, transcript reports, and assessment overview.  The test site reports include individual candidate data, as well as overall mean scores, mean scores for each domain, and standard deviation.  In addition, test sites can export their results into Microsoft Excel for long-term storage and tracking.  In the reporting system, the results can be sorted and filtered based on demographic factors. 

Q14. The assessment results provided to each candidate identify (a) overall test score; (b) indication of whether student earned cut score for “Pre-Professional Certification in [Assessment Name]”; and (c) break-down of scores by domain/topic area.  This allows the test candidate to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.  The National Averages are published annually on the AAFCS website.  Test candidates can compare their results to the national average. Results and scoring data from AAFCS Pre-PAC assessments can be used to document competency achievement, target gaps or weaknesses in performance, guide curriculum changes/improvements, and demonstrate accountability to stakeholders.   Scores may be used to facilitate articulation with post secondary institutions.  For example, scores could be used as a basis for advanced placement of secondary students or credit-by-exam.   Individuals should check with individual institutions regarding the acceptance of Pre-PAC scores.  Institutions seeking more information regarding the use of Pre-PAC assessments for these purposes should contact AAFCS.

Q15. With the assessment results, the test site can look for patterns or trends regarding strengths and weaknesses in each of the domain areas.  This will aid in data-driven decision making regarding changes or improvements in curriculum, instruction, and/or professional staff development.  Test sites can also compare their scores and certification rates to the national averages and national certification rate.  Academic programs can really benefit from having exceptional programs with curricula that are aligned with industry-recognized standards; providing programs that can offer better career opportunities for students; documenting the number of certifications earned to meet Perkins IV requirements and measure technical skill attainment; and improving student preparation and ensuring a workforce that meets the demands of the 21st century. Furthermore, the data can be used to target instructional needs and to provide program evaluation data for funding purposes. 

Q16. In order to purchase and administer Pre-PAC assessments, there must be a Test Site Approval Agreement completed and submitted for each site/testing facility.  Once approved, the test site coordinator and administrator will receive an email confirmation with the site approval code.  With this code, the site can access the order center to purchase assessments.  Once assessments are purchased and candidates are registered for the assessment, the test site identifies and sets their testing window. The assessment must be completed in a proctored environment.  Proctor guidelines are available on the Pre-PAC website.  Proctors for the AAFCS Pre-PAC exams must be test site employees; thus, volunteers are not able to serve as proctors. School and district guidelines should be followed with regard to the proctor selection. For security and liability purposes, AAFCS recommends that the teacher/instructor on record (who is actively teaching the content to test candidates) should not be the sole proctor for test administration of their students. The teacher/instructor on record can serve as a proctor-observer for the test administration.

 AAFCS Pre-PAC policy does not allow teachers to sit for the exam and earn the credential.  If there is a state or district mandate/policy in place requiring the assessment/certification for teachers, then a written waiver of the requirement would need to be received and approved.  The waiver must be emailed to  For states/districts who have an approved waiver, there are limitations on the actual test administration (for example, they must have a separate administration that is remotely-proctored and they are unable to test with their students).  AAFCS offers remote and live proctoring.   If approved, a separate order must be placed for the assessment.

AAFCS also provides a “Candidate Guide to Assessment Administration” that can be downloaded and distributed to test candidates.  The assessment typically takes approximately one hour to complete. The test is administered completely online using an Internet browser.  The technical requirements necessary for testing are provided on the Pre-PAC Management System website.  There is no additional software or download required for testing.  Although the test is not timed, test candidates must complete the assessment in one testing session. The entire assessment process is facilitated through an online system, the Pre-PAC Management System

Q17.There is no fee for becoming an approved test site by AAFCS.  The costs associated with administration are limited to the actual costs of the assessments.  The assessments and certifications will be offered to individuals and programs at affordable rates.  Payment for Pre-PAC products and services can be made by check, purchase order, or credit card.  Click here for pricing. There are two products available for purchase for each assessment: single administration and test/retest administration. The single administration product provides a one-time test administration.  The test/re-test administration provides an initial administration and the opportunity for the same candidate to retest before the end of the testing year. Test/retest administrations are often used for pre- and post-testing. There must be a minimum of 48 hours between the test and retest administration.  Data reports provide performance results in each of the domain/topic areas.  Thus, the test/retest product can identify strengths and target gaps/weaknesses of the test candidates in the specified domains/topics addressed within the assessment. 

Q18. Neither the individual assessment items nor the assessment itself is timed.  The assessment includes 80 test items (70 scored, 10 unscored and used for research purposes).  The average testing time ranges from 45 to 55 minutes.   This time will vary from candidate to candidate.  The assessment must be completed in one sitting.  There must be a minimum of 48 hours between the test and retest administration.

Q19. Pre-PAC assessments are available for administration throughout the Pre-PAC testing year (September 1 through June 30).  Thus, test sites can specify and follow their own timelines for administration.  Once assessments are purchased and test candidates are registered for the assessment, the test site identifies and sets their testing window.  To get started, the test site must complete the current year Test Site Approval Agreement. Please allow for two business days for the agreement to be processed once it has been submitted and two business days for orders to be processed. Once processed, test sites can register test candidates and then begin test administration.  There must be a minimum of 48 hours between the test and retest administration.

Q20. A non-academic site might be a community-based program or employer who is seeking to (a) validate competencies required for employment at the pre-professional level; (b) recognize the achievement of their employees or clients; or (c) enhance efforts to provide targeted staff development based on performance results. The assessment can be used to validate competency of individuals seeking employment, to acknowledge quality employees, and/or to enhance staff development.  With the assessment, employers gain the ability to validate competencies required for employment at the pre-professional level, recognize the achievement of their employees, and enhance efforts to provide targeted staff development based on performance results.  Business/industry employers benefit from having qualified pre-professionals who will make productive employees; making more informed and effective hiring decisions; and bridging the gap between industry and education in the development of a highly-skilled, future workforce.