IAI Certification Test

Welcome to the public CLPEX.com Message Board for Latent Print Examiners. Feel free to share information at will.

IAI Certification Test

Post by Guest » Thu Oct 13, 2005 7:39 am

I am taking the Latent Print Certification test next week and I am scared to death! I have read all of the books, taken several practice tests, but I still get test anxiety. For those of you who have taken it, could you help me out?

How many T/F and multiple choice questions are there? Also, I know that I have to compare 15 latent prints, but how many inked prints will I have to compare to (please don't say 15!).?

Also, any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

User avatar
Gerald Clough
Posts: 559
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:27 am
Location: Lockhart, Texas

Post by Gerald Clough » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:45 am

I will say this. If you have studied the texts well, you will have no trouble with the written portion. It's comprehensive, but I really think that someone who has had a serious, broad and ongoing lively interest in the field would be okay.

Don't go in scared. It's tough enough without bringing your own stress with you into the test. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? You don't make sufficient identifications and get to do it again. Nothing wrong with that. Lots of thoroughly competent professionals have had to take their qualifying exams more than once, even more than two or three times.
"Nothing has any value, unless you know you can give it up."

Pat A. Wertheim
Posts: 838
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:48 am
Location: Morrow, GA


Post by Pat A. Wertheim » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:10 pm

There's more to taking this test and passing it than simple ability. For many people, strategy is the key -- a good strategy and you pass, a poor strategy (or none) and you fail it. Give me a call if you would like to discuss some ideas. (520) 746-4570

Danny L. Harness
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 5:31 am
Location: Xenia, Ohio


Post by Danny L. Harness » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:49 pm

Could you share your thoughts for the rest of us?

Pat A. Wertheim
Posts: 838
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:48 am
Location: Morrow, GA

Post by Pat A. Wertheim » Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:13 pm

No single strategy applies for all people. Some people are natural born "test takers" and other people freeze up at the mere thought of taking a test. There are people who are hyperactive and fast and people who are methodical and slow. There are people with high ability who could pass the test even on a bad day and other people who might pass on a good day but will most assuredly fail on a bad day. People have a variety of habits they have developed over the years of practice at fingerprint comparison, some people with more good habits and some people with more bad habits. I learned by watching thousands of people who took my class that I might recommend opposite strategies to two different people in the same class. The test should measure a latent print examiner's ability, but I am convinced that some who fail the test have the ability but went in without a strategy. I would be glad to discuss strategy with anybody, but I would be extremely reluctant to recommend a blanket strategy that would help some and doom others to failure.

Posts: 226
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 1:27 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

One Suggestion

Post by g. » Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:19 pm

I agree with you Pat on the various strategies.

One thing that helped me tremendously, was to prep. by "studying" for the comparison part. I for about 2 weeks before the test, each day put aside an hour or 2 to do an old CTS test or a proficiency test of some kind and time myself. Not exactly like the cert test, but it put me in a timed test mode and made me reinforce searching efficiently.

That is my # 1 recommendation. If you do any processing at all, you will ace the first parts. Focus on the comparison stuff.

When it came time to take the cert test, I was already in a "speedy, efficient search" frame of mind. Obviously though, you can never sacrifice accuracy for speed.

Hope that helps and good luck.


Pat A. Wertheim
Posts: 838
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:48 am
Location: Morrow, GA

Practice is good!

Post by Pat A. Wertheim » Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:01 pm

Glenn is right -- the vast majority who "fail" the certification test do so by failing to make the correct number of identifications. The rest of the test is easy by comparison (pun intended). I will be taking the test again soon (when my certification comes up for renewal, I apply for "new" certification so I can take the full test) and for practice, I have about 30 people I have finger/palm printed and lifted 30 or so latents apiece, all taken since I last took the test. That gives me a lot of practice comparisons to sharpen me up for the test.

Other general strategies:
1. Separate latent fingers from latent palms and inked fingers from inked palms. Compare fingers to fingers and palms to palms.
2. Separate the three phases of the examination process: A-C-E.
3. In "A" (analysis), study the latent for the best target group closest to a focal point, then memorize that target group by drawing it. Yes, draw a picture of each target you search.
4. In "C" (comparison), search the inked prints without constantly going back to the latent for reference. If you have memorized the target correctly, you will recognize it when you see it.
5. Finally, "E" (evaluation) is when you put the latent and inked side by side to finish the examination. Make sure you go all the way out. Don't stop short, as it is relatively easy to have, say, six "points" that "match."

But all of that is hardly strategy for the CLPE test -- those are just good habits to have at the workbench every day.

One other suggestion to help prepare for the certification test -- take the course Glenn teaches and when you do, let him know you are getting ready to take the certification test. Glenn will make sure you are ready for it.

Les Bush
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 4:29 am
Location: Australia

Testing of expertise

Post by Les Bush » Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:58 pm

Hello Guest,

I've been away from this site for a while so I hope that if you have taken the test that all went well. In Australia we have a different system of evaluating candidates for expertise but it is still similar in the sense that anxiety plays a part in how we perform. I think the issues you raised are more about the psychology of being tested rather than the subject material or skill. There is a wealth of advice about steps to take to minimise stress caused by anxiety. I can see from the other postings that you have been steered along paths that will improve your ability as a latent print examiner. What I'd like is that you look further at two issues. Firstly the experience you are having with this test is a good example of what contemporary court testimony will examine and expect from you as a professional witness. The qualification of being certified gives you credibility but then its up to you to keep that standard by your preparations for exposure to our adversarial court system. I firmly believe in recertification as a process for maintaining a professional working standard and eliminating the concept of 'life' qualification. The second is that you engage in study and research into fingerprint science. I'm about to retire but I still come across gems of wisdom such as my current study text called "Drawing on the right side of the brain". Not only does this book teach artistic skills but it thoroughly covers the concepts of left and right brain functions. There continues to be challenges in court about "how" we complete our latent fingerprint examinations. The answer comes from texts such as this where we learn about using our abilities to solve pictorial challenges such as comparing two impressions. Just as another little aside we can also use understanding of our human biology to address issues about latent fingerprint examinations being 'art' or 'science'. In the development of embryos there appears a gene known as the glyphogene responsible for creating patterns on the body. When mankind first started to record evidence of their history is was by drawings, carvings and symbols called hieroglyphs. Later the medical profession moved in to study patterns on our hands and feet and started the science of dermatoglyhpics. So finally we come to our science which truly does incorporate art and science (skin and patterns). We just need to know how much of each is involved in 'how' we solve forensic problems. It keeps one uncomfortably alert and humble.


Thank You

Post by Guest » Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:20 pm

Thank you to everyone who gave me tidbits of wisdom. It's nice to know there are people out there willing to help someone they do not know. I took my test today and now I have to wait for the results. The test was extremely difficult. I was ready to throw in the towel so to speak after four hours. I took a lunch break and came back refreshed. I found 12 of the 15, but two of them I feel a little uneasy about. In normal casework I would have asked another examiner or two to look at them before even thinking of calling them. The test really challenged me as an examiner. We'll see if I made the right choice for the test.

Kathy Saviers
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:41 am
Location: Salem, Oregon

Quality question

Post by Kathy Saviers » Thu Oct 20, 2005 1:48 pm

Hello Guest,

Since you just took the test, what was your opinion of the quality (clarity, contrast, sharpness) of the latent prints and the inked prints? I know a lot of folks (who haven't taken the test or are getting ready to take the test) worry that the photographs of the prints might be fuzzy. What did you think?

I took my IAI Latent Print Certification proficiency test a couple of months ago and I wish my casework latent prints were as sharp as the photographs on the test.



Post by Guest » Thu Oct 20, 2005 2:30 pm


The photographs were nice quality. I question some of the latent prints being "of value". I had a hard time calling some of the prints because there just wasn't much there. I'm sure an examiner with much more experience would feel more comfortable calling them (I have six years of experience). That's what I didn't like about the test. In real casework, I would have examined the difficult prints several times over several days and even asked another examiner to look at them. I felt the test was definitely challenging. In fact, half way through I was ready to throw in the towel. Luckily, my proctor told me to take a lunch break and try it again after a break (and it worked for me). I wish anyone getting ready to take the test the best of luck. I'm still crossing my fingers waiting for my test results!


Print Quality

Post by Gerry » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:12 am

I also had an issue with the quality of the prints. Most were out of focus and not photographed 1:1. I'd say a good percentage of these prints wouldn't have made it to my desk because of the low quality and number of points. On my test the majority of prints were palms which, at least in my department, make up a small percentage of our id's.


class by Glenn

Post by Guest » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:05 pm

What is the class that 'Glenn' teaches?


IAI Certification test

Post by stephanie » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:35 pm

Glenn's class is the Ridgeology Science Workshop-formerly taught by Kasey and Pat Wertheim (respectively). I had the benefits of taking the class taught by Kasey (two years ago) and Glenn this past August. The information is on this site on the training link. Gook luck!

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:20 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Print Quality

Post by jonstwedder3 » Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:30 am

Gerry wrote:I also had an issue with the quality of the prints. Most were out of focus and not photographed 1:1. I'd say a good percentage of these prints wouldn't have made it to my desk because of the low quality and number of points. On my test the majority of prints were palms which, at least in my department, make up a small percentage of our id's.

Just a couple of comments Gerry, I am past Chair of the Cert Board. Your comments on the quality of the test (I am refering to the quality of the photography and not the latents themselves) concerns me. The quality control of the test is pretty good. If you received a test where the prints were out of focus, or not 1:1, you should have let your proctor know. The proctor would relay that information to the Secretary and a new test would be sent. I know this may cause some delay, but it would certainly be your right. Not to say it can't happen, but I have to say that I have proctored many exams and never once received a comment about poor photography.

The Cert. Board receives comments about the difficulty of the test, the desire to have prints verified, and that some prints are not representative of what is normally seen in their shop. However, the LP Cert. Test is test of excellence and not mere proficiency. The test was never proported to be an approximation of daily case work. I agree that most latent prints we see routinely are not as difficult as the test (thank God), most of us don't work under time pressure when it comes to identifying a print, and we should always verify our results. Unfortunately, when testing, this is not possible.
John O.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 5 guests