Examination Committee Comments on Pass Marks for Full v Partial Related Exams
By Daniel Roth, Examination Committee Chairperson
In response to concerns regarding the relationships between the pass marks and pass ratios for Exams 5, 5A and 5B, the Exam Committee reiterates that pass marks are based on an evaluation of the points required on the questions provided in the exam, and are not directly related to how candidates may or may not have performed on those questions, or how candidates performed on other exams.
The pass mark for an exam is generally the sum of the point requirements determined for the individual items. The committee has been applying this approach to its typical four-hour exams for a number of years, and similarly follows this approach in establishing the pass mark for Exam 5.
In establishing final pass marks, the committee considers the sufficiency of the time allotted to complete the items for each exam independently. Because the partial exams are restricted to fixed partial time allotments, it is possible that time adjustment(s) could result in the sum of the pass marks for Exams 5A and 5B being less than the pass mark for Exam 5, even though the item-specific standards are the same. Although the committee’s determination of time adequacy is not made public, the release of the pass marks will reveal that the sum of the partial-exam pass marks is not less than the full-exam pass mark for the 2011 sitting.
The committee is aware of suggestions that the partial exam pass marks should be adjusted upward relative to the sum of the item-specific standards to redress a perceived lack of fair treatment between partial exam and full exam takers, but the committee views such adjustments as contrary to its standard-setting process. The committee sees no reason to fail candidates who have scored the required points on their tested items because they are perceived to have had a less challenging study schedule or testing environment.