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Joined: 2009-02-08

Hi evreybody!
dose anybody know how do they calculate the pass and fail score for MCQ?
Thanks alot.

dotdynamic's picture
Joined: 2008-08-06
PEBC exams pass/fail scores

Hi Neda,

The answer to that is yes but it is not as straight-forward as one might hope. The PEBC use a system called 'a criterion-referenced pass/fail standard'. What this means, in very simplistic terms, is that an expert panel decide what competencies an acceptable candidate should have and what difficulty of questions they should be able to answer. An expert panel then looks at the exam paper for that year and go through each question deciding on the probability that a competent candidate (as determined previously) will answer that question correctly. The panels estimated question difficulties are then averaged, which results in a minimum satisfactory performance level for that exam (not really a pass mark). This method of determining a pass or fail standard will be subject to a small percentage of error so there is usually an allowance for marks that are borderline.

So what does that all mean? :? Well it means that the exam does not have a pass mark as such. Instead the exam has a weighting system, if you answer a lot of questions wrong that the PEBC determines that a competent candidate should be able to answer you are more likely to fail. On the other hand if you answer a lot of questions wrong that the PEBC have determined that a competent candidate would be more likely to get wrong then you may not be failing (and when you find those hard questions during the exam it can definitely feel like you are never give up!)

It's a hard concept to understand when you are used to exams with definite pass marks. So my advice is don't think about how many questions you need to answer in order to pass, think about the kind of questions the PEBC are suggesting you should be able to answer. For example, if you come across a question that gives you a patient's specific medical history, and their post operative lab values, and then asks you to determine the best medications to use given those lab values and their medical history, it may be likely that the PEBC are expecting a high percentage of candidates to not be able to answer that correctly (though this is not to say you should not have some knowledge in these areas). As such if you get this question wrong it won't necessarily make the same contribution towards the chances of you failing, as it would in a traditional exam (in a sense it's not like getting a whole question wrong). If however, you can not answer questions like, calculate the weight of drug required to make a 100ml of 10% w/v solution, then you know you are most certainly in big trouble.

It is worth noting although each exam contains 300 questions (150 per sitting) only 200 are used to determine your score. The other 100 questions are pretest questions. This means they are questions that are put on the exam to see how well/poorly candidates respond to the question in order to determine if they will be used in future exams. So again if you get a number of questions wrong it may not be contributing to the likelihood of you failing as much as you think (but never assume a question is a pretest question).

Despite all of what I have said above, please bear in mind that the PEBC exams are very challenging exams and every question you get wrong is a missed opportunity in increasing the likelihood of you passing the exam. While studying for the exams never pass a question over because you think it is above the expected standard, find the answer whatever it takes.

In summary don't worry about how many questions you need to answer in order to pass (you will never know that), worry about gaps in your knowledge in areas that the PEBC expect competent pharmacists to be proficient in.

Joined: 2008-12-01
i should not answer a question i dont know its answer!

dear, dotdynamic
does that mean i should not answer a question i dont know its answer??!
or what is appropriate action when dealing with a question i dont know!?
what about guessing for a question iam not sure its answer,
or chosen an answer by luck for question i dont know.

dotdynamic's picture
Joined: 2008-08-06
You should attempt to answer

You should attempt to answer every question even if you are not sure! There is no negative marking involved in the above system so you will not lose marks for answering a question.