Sample Questions for the CPTC Practitioner Exam

This page provides sample questions from the CPTC Practitioner exam. The sample questions show the range of topics from 9 core skill areas in technical communication and the types of questions that will be asked. The rationale and correct responses for the questions are located at the bottom of this page. All questions are based on material found in the body of knowledge used for the exam, Richard Johnson-Sheehan's textbook Technical Communication Today, 6th edition.

4 Multi-Part Sample Questions

Question 1

Answer the following questions about the contexts, which will influence users' experiences of the website

1. Members typically access the website using a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer at home or work. Which of the following contexts does this inform?

  1. Physical and economic
  2. Physical and mobile
  3. Ethical and mobile
  4. Ethical and economic

 

2. The new website requires additional security protocols for login to the members' area of the website. This may require upgrades to the different devices used by members to access the site. Which of the following contexts does this inform?

  1. Ethical and physical
  2. Ethical and economic
  3. Mobile and economic
  4. Mobile and physical

 

3. Subject matter experts and marketing staff are concerned about the use of references and idioms used in written website content, particularly for global audiences. Which of the following contexts does this inform?

  1. Physical
  2. Economic
  3. Mobile
  4. Ethical

 

4. Management concurs with subject matter experts on the use of collected membership data for marketing purposes. Which of the following contexts does this inform?

  1. Physical
  2. Economic
  3. Mobile
  4. Ethical

 

Question 2

Answer the following question above visual design for global audiences.

The design for the original website was a culturally deep design specifically selected for North American web interfaces. An extensive use of blue was made for titles, fonts, and navigation bars.

Current web analytics and feedback from the membership department indicate that nearly 15% of members are now from Japan or Southeast Asia. The number of members from other countries is also predicted to grow significantly in the near future. As a result, the team has been advised to update content on the website to align with guidelines for the design and use of visual information for global audiences.

Lines 1 to 5 in the table below consist of an assertation statement and a reason statement. For each line identify the appropriate option, from options A to E, that applies. Each option can be used once, more than once, or not at all.

Option Assertion Reason
A True True AND the reason explains the assertion
B True True BUT the reason does not explain the assertion
C True False
D False True
E False False

 

Assertion Reason
1 As the original design was culturally deep, no changes will be required to the design conventions used. BECAUSE Culturally deep interfaces are designed to work across a variety of cultures.
2 In future the in-house design team should avoid the use of complex shapes when using symbols in international web pages. BECAUSE Standard organizations such as ISO have created a number of international symbols for cross-cultural use.
3 It would be appropriate to check whether the extensive use of the color blue throughout the website works for the Japanese audience. BECAUSE Where possible, colors that have negative associations for other cultures should be avoided.
4 Where photographs of members at social events are being used these will need to be re-evaluated and possibly removed. BECAUSE For global use, wherever possible photographs should be replaced with simple pictographs of humans.
5 It would be a good idea to include more culture-specific symbols in the site to increase its appeal to a broader range of global users. BECAUSE Culture-specific symbols are a good way of reflecting readers' design preferences and expectations.

 

Question 3

Answer the following questions about research the project team is proposing for some of the website updates.

  1. One of the key update areas will be the member-only web pages. These will provide information about specialist aspects of technical communication. To help identify the new content required, the team will first produce a concept map of their research subject. Using this, they will then identify a proposed angle for their research. Is this an appropriate approach for planning this research?
  1. No, because the team should first use concept mapping to help sketch out the research methodology.
  2. No, because the research question should be formulated before choosing an angle and the research methodology.
  3. Yes, because choosing an angle will help identify a suitable research question for gathering the content to meet members' needs.
  4. Yes, because the concept map will help show the sequential steps of the research process.

 

2. The team has gathered specialist information to be included in the member-only web pages. The team member is concerned that some of the authors may have plagiarized their content from other sources. She has asking the researchers to only use sources where there is evidence that the author has acknowledged sources through in-text citations and the use of a reference list. Is this an appropriate approach to this research?

  1. No, because the work of others should be paraphrased by using quotation marks around the text.
  2. No, because any researched information on technical communication can be considered “common knowledge” and therefore does not need citing.
  3.  Yes, because the use of information sources with in-text citations and reference lists helps build credibility with the readers.
  4.  Yes, because in-text citations are the preferred documentation system for technical communication.

 

3. To create a highly reliable historical account of the organization, the team will need to research content to update the organization's history. Their sources of information will be print copies of the organization's annual reports containing accomplishments, in addition to the existing website descriptions of the organization's history. Is this an appropriate approach for conducting and completing this research?

  1. No, because this approach only includes evidence from one side of the research triangle.
  2. No, because the approach does NOT include similar information from empirical sources.
  3. Yes, because including similar information from print and electronic sources suggests the evidence is sufficient for a high degree of reliability.
  4. Yes, because there are two independent sources of evidence.

 

4. When researching the historical account of the organization, the team has decided that in addition to the website's description of the organization's history and the organization's annual reports, they will gather information from historical press releases from TSO. The team has assessed that these sources will be free from bias. Is this an appropriate assessment of this information's reliability?

  1.  No. because published press releases from TSO may present possible organizational bias.
  2. No, because bias applies to the researcher and not the sources of information.
  3. Yes, because the information sources are written by informed parties.
  4.  Yes, because the organization and its members can vouch for the reliability of the content.

 

5. The team is mapping out the research methodology for the research question: “What are the benefits of professional membership of the Technical Standards Organization?” One of the major steps for this research will be to poll members on their view of the organization and the value it has given them. As there are now 50,000 members, extra time is being allowed in the final step of the methodology for statistical analysis of survey results. Is this an appropriate approach to developing the research methodology for this research question?

  1. No, because content sources must be determined and triangulated prior to mapping out a research methodology.
  2. No, because analyzing findings is part of the technical writing process and NOT a recommended step of the research methodology.
  3. Yes, because at the end of the research methodology time should be left to focus research on a chosen angle.
  4. Yes, because at the end of the research methodology time should be left for analyzing findings.

 

Question 4

Answer the following questions about content writing for websites.

Based on specific communications that will be included in the new website, you are tasked with making recommendations for specific content publishing and content reuse that will inform the social media strategy used by the organization.

Column 1 is a list of proposed communications. For each communication in Column 1, select from Column 2 the MOST appropriate social/website media option for this communication. Each selection from Column 2 can be used once, more than once, or not at all.

Column 1 Column 2
1 Summary of newly revised terms and conditions of membership A. Blog content
2 Instant updates on an upcoming webinar B. Wiki content
3 Weekly audio discussion of the pros and cons of a new technology product released C. Microblog content
4 Procedural demonstration of how to register for upcoming webinars D. Video content
5 Image library with extended descriptions of organization-sponsored events E. Podcast content
6 Best practices and workarounds from members and staff for updating member profiles on the website

 Rationale for the Sample Questions

Question 1

1.

  1. Incorrect.  Physical is correct but economic contexts involve any related costs and benefits (computer equipment or software upgrades) and not how members access the website
  2. Correct. Physical contexts involve where readers will use your document (at home) and mobile contexts involve how a reader will read your document (on a computer or tablet)
  3. Incorrect. Mobile is correct but ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values. and well-being of others, including global audiences.
  4. Incorrect. Ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values, and well-beings of others, including global audiences. Economic contexts involve any related costs and benefits (computer equipment or software upgrades) and not how members access the website.

 

2.

  1. Incorrect. Ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values, and well-being of others, including global audiences. Physical contexts involve where readers will use your document (at home)
  2. Incorrect. Economic is correct but ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values, and well-being of others, including global audiences.
  3. Correct. Mobile contexts involve how a reader will read your document (on a computer or tablet) and economic contexts involve any related costs and benefits (computer equipment or software upgrades).
  4. Incorrect. Mobile is correct but physical contexts involve where readers will use your document (at home).

3.

  1. Incorrect. Physical contexts involve where readers will use your document (at home).
  2. Incorrect. Economic contexts involve any related costs and benefits (computer equipment or software upgrades).
  3. Incorrect. Mobile contexts involve how a reader will read your document (on a computer or tablet)
  4. Correct. Ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values, and well-being of others, including transcultural (global) audiences.

4.

  1. Incorrect. Physical contexts involve where readers will use your document (at home).
  2. Incorrect. Economic contexts involve any related costs and benefits (computer equipment or software upgrades).
  3. Incorrect. Mobile contexts involve how a reader will read your document (on a computer or tablet).
  4. Correct. Ethical contexts include impact on the social or cultural issues, or how a document might impact the rights, values, and well-being of others, including how their personal data would be used for marketing purposes.

 

Question 2

1 False The original design was culturally deep, targeted at a North American audience. This would use language, symbols, and conventions to reflect that audience and would not be suitable for a variety of cultures. False The shallow design is best suited for use with a variety of cultures.
2 True Common symbols can have very different meanings in different cultures. To avoid offending readers a good approach is to use simple shapes. True Standard organizations have created a number of international symbols but this does not explain why a team should avoid the use of complex shapes in the future.
3 True The choice of color can influence how transcultural (global) readers interpret the message. True When designing an interface colors that have negative associations should be avoided. The answer is A as this is why the use of color should be checked on the website.
4 True Transcultural (global) texts should use images of people carefully. Facial expressions, clothing and hand signals can give different messages in different cultures. False When using symbols icons of humans should be replaced with simple pictographs but there is no requirement to replace photographs with pictographs.
5 False For transcultural (global) use culture-specific icons should be avoided. True Culture-specific symbols are used in culturally deep interfaces to reflect the readers' design preferences and expectations.

 

Question 3

1.

  1. Incorrect. The approach is correct. However, the use of concept mapping to sketch out the research methodology relates to step 3 – develop a research methodology. In step 1 concept maps are used to define the research subject.
  2. Incorrect. The approach is correct. First you must define your research subject, which includes choosing an angle, then formulate a research question and then develop a research methodology. In step 1 concept maps are used to define the research subject.
  3. Correct. First you must define your research subject, which includes choosing an angel, then formulate a research question and then develop a research methodology.
  4. Incorrect. The approach is correct but the concept map in step 1 is used to define the boundary of the research subject. It is in step 3 – define the research subject that concept mapping can be used to sketch out the research methodology.

 

2.

  1. Incorrect. The approach is appropriate. When paraphrasing the work of others, make sure you cite them with an in-text citation and a full-text citation in a references list.
  2. Incorrect. Whilst commonly used terms don't need to be cited, published secondary sources require proper acknowledgement and citation.
  3. Correct. Documenting sources helps build credibility with readers by showing them the support for your ideas.
  4. Incorrect. The approach is correct (see Rationale C) but there is no preferred documentation system for technical communications.

3.

  1. Incorrect. The approach is not appropriate because it gathers evidence from 2 not 3 sides of the research triangle (electronic and print sources).
  2. Correct. The approach is not appropriate because it does not include empirical sources. Similar facts from all three side of the research triangle including print, electronic, and empirical, allows you to be reasonably confident that the evidence collected is reliable.
  3. Incorrect. If you find evidence from only 2 sides, the evidence is probably still reliable, though you should be less confident. A high degree of reliability is required, so this approach is not appropriate.
  4. Incorrect. A high degree of reliability is required, so similar facts should be gathered from all three sides of the research triangle and not just two independent sources.

4.

  1. Correct. All sources of information have some bias and published press releases are likely to present possible organizational bias as press releases are likely to be used to promote the organization.
  2. Incorrect. Bias applies to the source of information as well as the researcher.
  3. Incorrect. Content produced by informed parties does not mean it will be free from bias, all sources of information have some bias.
  4. Incorrect. Although the organization and members can vouch for the reliability of the content, this does not mean it is free from bias. All sources of information have some bias.

5.

  1. Incorrect. The approach is appropriate. Collecting evidence from sources and triangulating sources are later stages of the research process… The research methodology will determine what and how evidence will be gathered.
  2. Incorrect. The approach is appropriate. Analyzing the findings is the step at the end of the methodology where statistical analysis of findings would be conducted.
  3. Incorrect. Whilst the approach is correct this is not because the final step of the methodology is used to focus research on a chosen angle. The angle of research is determined when defining the research subject.
  4. Correct. The approach is appropriate and analyzing the findings is the step at the end of the methodology where statistical analysis of findings would be conducted.

 

Question 4

1 Correct [A] Blogs are websites that contain a series of posts written by a specific person or team on announcements, new ideas, projects, or feedback on new ideas.
2 Correct [C] Microblogs are similar to regular blogs, except  they limit posts to a specific number of characters, used to send our quick updates or announcements
3 Correct [E] Podcasts are used to communicate (using audio content) with clients, customers, and help build awareness about a company and its products
4 Correct [D] Videos are used to communicate (using video and/or audio content) with clients, customers, and help build awareness about a company and its products
5 Correct [A] Blogs are websites that contact a series of posts written by a specific person or team on announcements, new ideas, projects, or feedback on new ideas. Whilst microblogs are becoming increasing visual and Twitter does not count images in its character limit, microblogs generally have some character limitation. Blogs would be more appropriate for library of images and extended descriptions of events.
6 Correct [B] Wikis are websites that let users add and modify content, including continual updates of documents in the technical workspace.