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Scoring and Equating

Standard Setting and Rescaling

The passing score of a an examination is determined through a psychometric process called standard setting. The purpose of standard setting is to determine the minimum acceptable level of performance in the competency domains targeted by the examinations.

Standard setting is a rigorous process by which a panel of dentists from across Canada reviews all questions in an examination to establish the score required for the minimally competent dentist to demonstrate competency. This minimum score is a representation of the minimum amount of knowledge for a dentist to be considered safe to the public. This becomes the passing score for the examination. The passing score is then rescaled to a 75. Rescaling has no impact on pass/fail decisions, rather is a consistent way of reporting a score.

A simplified example of rescaling looks like this. If the standard setting team has set the minimum result to be a competent dentist at 55% , an examinee that scored 55% on the exam will have a re-scaled score of 75 written on their result report. Similarly, all other raw scores are adjusted to a rescaled score.

Test Equating

Test equating is a standardized statistical process that is used to ensure each version of an examination is of equal difficulty.

After the answer score sheets have been scanned, NDEB staff and Chief Examiners perform a detailed statistical analysis of the questions. Part of this statistical analysis involves identification and possible elimination of any questions that may not have performed as expected statistically. The questions selected for one version of an examination may be easier, or more difficult, than another version, so the NDEB uses a test equating process to ensure that all versions are of equivalent difficulty. The result is that the performance required to meet the standardized passing score is the same for each version and that examinee results from different versions are comparable.

Frequently Asked Questions

A committee, consisting primarily of general dentists recommended by Provincial Dental Regulatory Authorities, selects the questions for use on examinations.
Questions used for each administration of the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ), the Written Examination, and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) are developed and reviewed by content experts who are primarily faculty members at Canadian faculties of dentistry.
No, NDEB examinations contain more than one hundred questions. The overall rescaled score does not indicate the number of questions answered correctly. An examinee who receives a score of 74 could be one or several questions away from passing the examination.
No. An examinee does not need to answer 75 percent of the questions correctly to receive a rescaled score of 75. The rescaled score is not the percentage of test questions the examinee answered correctly as it also takes into account the difficulty of the exam as established by a panel of experts through standard setting.
No. The cut score that determines whether an examinee passes or fails is based on the recommendation of a subject matter expert panel through a process called standard setting. In this process, the panel has the opportunity to view the actual exam content and will then consider the content against the level of skill required of a competent dentist to set a pass mark. NDEB examinations are not designed to pass or fail a pre-determined percentage of examinees. If an examinee demonstrates competence to safely enter practice by answering a sufficient number of questions correctly, they will pass the examination regardless of how other examinees perform.