The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching quality of life through safe and effective exercise and physical activity. Since 1985, ACE has been a resource for consumers who draw on its comprehensive research and rely on the organization’s evaluation of fitness professionals. ACE has grown into the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world. Nearly 50,000 individuals hold more than 55,000 ACE professional certifications in four disciplines within fitness and wellness.
As ACE grew, the organization needed assistance developing and delivering their examinations in a consistent, highly secure, and operationally efficient manner. One critical challenge ACE faced was determining how to manage the transition from paper and pencil testing to internet-based testing. ACE’s paper and pencil testing was expertly conducted by Castle, but it was limited to four quarterly testing dates that required significant logistical management and financial capital, and limited the program’s availability to potential certificants. ACE recognized the need for a test delivery process that addressed their candidates’ growing desire for greater convenience while maintaining strict test security, delivery consistency, and operational effectiveness.
“Castle was able to meet the rapidly growing needs of our candidates while maintaining the exam integrity . . . .This has been of great value to ACE and to our candidates.”
Todd Galati ACE Director of Credentialing
The Castle Solution
For more than two decades, ACE has partnered with Castle for ongoing psychometric consultation and test development and delivery services. Castle works with ACE to develop multiple examinations annually for use in ACE’s four certification programs: Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach, and Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist. Historically, Castle has been responsible for booklet and answer sheet printing and tracking, providing experienced proctors for the exams and processing scheduling requests for paper-based examinations. Today, Castle continues to provide these services while helping ACE to transition to primarily internet-based testing at proctored testing sites for ACE’s more than 10,000 candidates annually. Castle scores the examinations and reports scores to candidates and to ACE. “Castle has truly been a partner for ACE,” said Todd Galati, Director of Credentialing for ACE. “They have provided us with reliable, quality management of our high-stakes testing services, while also helping to guide us through the processes of earning and maintaining NCCA accreditation for the four ACE certification programs.
Key to serving ACE’s evolving need was the addition of Castle’s global testing network for computer delivered testing. ACE launched their tests in Castle’s network in a pilot study and have since expanded delivery throughout Castle’s worldwide network. Castle continues to deliver paper-based exams for ACE at over 50 sites in the U.S., Canada, and around the globe.
Initially, ACE offered paper-based test administration only. Castle added psychometrically sound, secure online test administration to ACE’s business model. This expanded the pool of potential candidates while increasing customer satisfaction by improving convenience and choice. Within two years of offering internet-based testing to their candidates, about 80 percent of ACE candidates were choosing the convenience of online testing over paper and pencil delivery.
Throughout the course of the relationship, ACE relies on Castle’s deep understanding of psychometric practice and its convenient, secure, global test delivery. The organization trusts Castle’s ability to ensure the credibility and validity of ACE certification examinations within the fitness industry. “The shift in candidate preference from traditional paper and pencil testing to internetbased testing happened far quicker than we had anticipated,” said Galati. “Castle was able to meet the rapidly growing needs of our candidates while maintaining the exam integrity and moving our larger programs to IRT equating to allow for immediate score reporting. This has been of great value to ACE and to our candidates.”