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Special Events

CSEP Changes to Meet Your Needs

As the event industry evolves, so does the certification process for establishing a professional standard.

The United States and many other parts of the world recognize ISES' Certified Special Events Professional designation as the leading certification for the event industry. The CSEP process is assessed constantly so it will accurately gauge the industry's expertise. Specifically, the examination process has undergone a stringent review over the last two years.

Recognizing its strengths and finding its weaknesses was just a start. The ISES Certification Committee, along with independent testing administrator Schroeder Measurement Technologies, logged hundreds of hours refining and improving the exam and its administration process.

The results below outline recent program changes that are a giant step forward in improving the exam's ability to test candidates accurately. They also make it extremely accessible to event professionals worldwide.


  • Testing locations can now be provided worldwide for any candidate who requires a facility.

  • The exams are now available four times a year — a jump from two to three times a year. At each time, the CSEP candidate can choose the most convenient day from a 15-day window. This greater flexibility allows candidates to take their own schedule into consideration when registering.


  • The exam is now two examination sections instead of three, while maintaining its reputation as one of the most rigorous certification exams in the hospitality industry.

  • The entire process is completed on a computer using a proprietary testing interface. The various exam components — multiple-choice and written sections — are now a breeze, with full-review capabilities, bookmarking, timing, calculations and progress-tracking all in front of the candidate's eyes.


  • A vast effort to evaluate current questions for fairness, applicability, usage and contradictions was undertaken. Now, a bank of up-to-date standardized questions exists. The exam itself is based on a wide scope of event management work and general knowledge.

  • SMT ensures that all questions reflect accurate measurement of a candidate's abilities.

  • The exam's written portion was redesigned to more accurately test a candidate's ability to apply currently accepted event management practices to specific event scenarios.

  • A redesign of the grading mechanics reduces the subjectivity in certain exam sections' scoring. The scoring is now far more objective.


  • The computer-based testing interface managed by SMT enables scores to be received faster.

  • Because test scores and question-answer patterns are archived, the exam can be updated regularly and assessed for question validity.

  • ISES will now have an “archive of performance” to gauge its certification program and look at multiyear progress of the industry and the exam as a whole.

  • ISES is potentially the only association that has designed a certification process that includes both multiple-choice and written components for testing purposes.

Evolution is a slow-moving process that is the aggregate of countless individuals' efforts over many, many years. The CSEP exam is now the product of these innovators, the 2006-07 ISES Certification Committee, led by Michael Tannen, CSEP, who took on the monstrous project of updating and modernizing the CSEP designation, and those who commit themselves to the process of becoming certified in the event industry. We hope the impact of these recent changes will have a lasting impact on global certification and standardization.

Name: Kevin White, CSEP, CSEP Chair

Company: Empire Force Events Inc.

Address: 71 W. 23rd St., Sixth Floor, New York, NY 10010 USA

Phone: 212/924-0320

E-mail: [email protected]

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