History of the Klingon Language Certification Program

Klingonist and member of the KLI d'Armond Speers explains how the KLCP test was set up, and why some of the decisions were made(1).

Grading the test

I have tried to be consistent, fair and permissive in grading of KLCP tests. The goal is not to make someone discouraged by grading hyper-critically, and to allow room for creativity (language is not a 1:1 thing).

For each question in the test bank there is an explanation of the purpose of the question, what is being tested by the question. These are printed in the answer keys with the expected answer(s), which the proctor uses when grading. When I'm grading tests, I am specifically looking for mistakes that pertain to the purpose of the question. If someone answers the question correctly but is not strictly adhering to the vocabulary or grammar of their test level, I do not count that as an error. I would not count off if someone used -'e' in an answer in the level 1 test. If there are vocabulary or grammatical errors that do not pertain directly to the purpose of the question I count off a single point rather than marking the whole question wrong. If they completely miss the point of the question, or the number of errors exceeds the available points per question (5 points per question for levels 1 & 2), then I just count the question wrong. If someone is making that many errors per question, then they really aren't at that level yet.

Whenever I distribute tests to someone else to administer and grade, I provide these instructions. With multiple test administrators over a period of many years, it's easy to see how these guidelines may not be followed consistently. I have not personally attended a qep'a' or qepHom in several years, or administered tests, though I do still regularly generate new tests from the test banks for qep'a'mey and qepHommey. It sounds like we may need to get some written guidelines for test administrators and strive for greater consistency in grading.


Creation of the KLCP was a group effort. I designed the structure with Lawrence M. Schoen (3 levels with 3 pins, because of the cultural importance of the numeral 3). There are 100 questions for each level in the test bank (plus the reading comprehension questions for Level 3), and generating tests means selecting questions from the test bank at random. Level 1 is a sub-set of TKD; level 2 is all of TKD; and level 3 is open-season on all available materials (mainly including additional materials from KGT). We produced written guidelines for each level, describing the vocabulary and grammar that was in scope. Questions were written to be distributed evenly across the topics for each level. Each question in the test bank was reviewed by multiple highly-skilled speakers when we were creating the program, following the written guidelines for the level. I have all of this in a MS Access database, which allows me to manage the randomization and generation of tests and keys quickly and easily. We put a ton of thought and effort into it, to make it as fair, correct and relevant as we could. And ultimately, it is intended to encourage people to achieve certification; it is supposed to be a positive experience.

Future of the KLCP

All of that being said, we now have the benefit of many years of experience, which we didn't have when we were creating the program. And if it's not achieving its goals of encouraging learning and rewarding progress, then we should be open to that feedback and willing to make adjustments. The challenge is that the more significant the adjustments (severely limiting the vocabulary for level 1, for example), the more effort will be involved in re-developing the test bank. If we make Level 1 too simple, then the gap between Level 1 and Level 2 becomes huge. And to be honest, I would not be able to do this re-development work, so someone else would have to take it over completely. Taking out the questions about the suffix number would be easier, and I agree that it's probably too pedantic for the level 1 test. These questions would have to be replaced with something else, maintaining balance across the topics for the level. I'm not sure how many questions there are like this in Level 1, but if anyone has interest in writing some new replacement questions, I'd be happy to work with them on improving the test bank.


1 : Message to the Email Discussion Forum of March 31st 2014

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