Frequently Asked Questions

Sero! is an award-winning knowledge assessment platform based on concept mapping.

In Latin, sero means “to join together.” You see it in words like serotonin, which “joins together” neurons. In concept maps, the relations join together the concepts to form propositions, basic units of knowledge.

Language-based assessments – like multiple choice (MC), fill-in, or essays – have long suffered from challenges. MC essentially assesses recognition, fill-ins assess recall, and essays require writing skills. MC and fill-in present questions in a sequence – treating each as though they are unrelated. MC are difficult to write well, while essays are difficult and time-consuming to grade.

Sero! provides a holistic assessment of HOTS and domain knowledge. Emphasis is placed on assessing concepts and how they relate. Answers become dependent on other answers, so Takers have to think through an entire segment of the domain rather than recognizing or recalling bits. They can express the depth of their knowledge regardless of their writing capabilities.

Concept maps assess Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Bartlett’s list is still one of the best for explaining HOTS:

  • – interpolation : filling in information that is missing from a logical sequence
  • – extrapolation : extending an incomplete argument or statement
  • – reinterpretation : rearrangement of information to effect a new interpretation

These are the same skills that Sero! helps to assess – regardless of the topic or domain.

To quote education researcher Steffen Schaal, “the validity and reliability of Concept Mapping assessment has been properly explored.” Almost 50 years of empirical research support this claim. The U.S. Department of Education’s Science Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress calls for the sort of assessment Sero! provides – check it out on page 107 of the Framework.

Sero! compares a Taker’s map to a MasterMap, which represents the knowledge and reasoning that is standard, common and/or commonly agreed to, or perhaps known only by the experts, for any given domain.

Detailed explanation: The score for a Taker’s map is calculated by adding one point to the total score for each answer the Taker provided that matched the MasterMap. The total is then divided by the total number of items in the entire assessment. If an item requires multiple answers (for example, ConnectTo that connects to multiple concepts), the score is added equal to the number of correct answers divided by the total number of answers required. If additional or missing answers are provided, the Taker is demerited half the credit of a correct answer for that item.

In some ways, yes. They are new to most Takers, so Sero! provides instructions and help. Sero! assessments can also vary in difficulty depending on the domain content, number of items in an assessment, and the types of assessment items. This flexibility gives Assessors lots of options to use in their specific assessment context.

Sero! can be used whenever someone’s understanding of a domain or topic needs to be assessed. For learners, this might be at the beginning of a course or module to gauge how and what they understand, so that they can be taught from that point. Or throughout the module, to gauge how they are doing. Or at the end, to gauge whether they got it and to figure out where they should go next.

In professional use, job candidates can take Sero! assessments to determine whether they really know their stuff. Or shortly after hire to determine what onboarding activities will be necessary and where to start on the training pathway.

Assessors can author their own maps using Sero! or other concept mapping programs (we recommend CmapToolsTM). When assessors create their own map, they can organize maps as they see fit and to reflect the knowledge they want to assess, and they can pinpoint particular conceptual knowledge.

Sero! Learning Assessments offers maps authoring services – email us at for details. 

We know there are lots of tools that enable drawing, sharing, and linking concept maps. However, none provide the end-to-end support for knowledge assessment. You can use those tools to draw concept maps, but you’ll have a lot of manual work to do if you want to conduct an assessment.

One way to think about it: If other concept mapping tools are like WordTM and PowerPointTM – Sero! is like ExcelTM.

xAPI is an e-learning software specification that allows learning content and learning systems to share data with each other that records and tracks all types of learning experiences. We have developed Sero! to be xAPI from the get-go. You can read about it here.

Contact us at if you are looking for more information on Sero!’s xAPI vocabulary.