American Chemical Society

Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute

A Short History

ACS Exams began as a project of the Division of Chemical Education in September 1930. It was begun by substantially the same group of pioneers in chemical education that had started the Division in 1921 and the Journal of Chemical Education in 1923. The first chair of the Examinations Committee was Dr. Otto M. Smith of Oklahoma A & M College (now Oklahoma State University). The first ACS chemistry test (in general chemistry) was released in 1934. Until the beginning of World War II, a new general chemistry test was released each year. The qualitative analysis test series was begun in 1939, the organic test series in 1942; and the quantitative analysis test series in 1944. High school tests were added in 1957. During World War II, the committee produced both civilian and military forms of college-level chemistry tests for the US Armed Forces Institute. (The military forms were kept secret.)

After World War II, the program was expanded to include virtually every undergraduate course in chemistry. Dr. Smith retired as chairman of the Examinations Committee in 1946 and Dr. Theodore Ashford was appointed to chair the committee. Dr. Ashford held that post until ill health forced him to retire in 1986. Dr. Jeff Davis of the University of South Florida served as acting Director of the Institute through 1987. The examinations program had been housed at St. Louis University from 1950 until 1960, and at the University of South Florida from 1960 until 1987.

In 1987, Dr. Dwaine Eubanks was appointed Director and the Institute was moved to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Lucy Pryde Eubanks participated extensively in the activities of the Institute and was appointed as the Associate Director. The Institute was moved to Clemson University in 1992.

In 2002, Dr. Thomas Holme was appointed Director and the Institute was moved once again, to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). In 2008, Dr. Holme and the Institute moved to its present location at Iowa State University. The Associate Director, Dr. Kristen Murphy, is still located at UWM.

While it was initially called the Examinations Committee, in 1984 the name was changed to the Examinations Institute, which better reflected the scope of assessment activities carried out through the program. A Board of Trustees was appointed by the DivCHED Executive Committee to oversee the operation of the Institute. Member of the Board are appointed by the Executive Committee.

The Institute is currently undertaking a project to digitally archive all the information it still possesses about the history of ACS Exams. If you have interest in such history and can make recommendations about ways that you, or others, might like to access historical documents, feel free to contact us with your ideas.