Passing Standard

Obtaining a score at or above the Passing Standard demonstrates you have the knowledge necessary to practice competently at the entry level. We established the Passing Standard through a process using content-experts’ judgment, empirical data, and policy considerations.

Because the practice of medicine changes over time and content of an examination changes periodically, we re-evaluate and update the Passing Standard approximately every three-to-five years.

We use judgment-based approaches, such as the Modified Angoff method and Bookmark Method, which are based on the judgments of a panel of content experts. These content experts are practitioners in the specialty and, in the case of existing examinations, APCA Certificants in the specialty of the examination for which the standard is being set.

Invitations to be on the panel are extended to content experts who represent the diversity of all practitioners in the field in terms of age, gender and geographic region, among other factors. When approving the passing standard, the APCA Council Members review the results from the panel’s content-based standard setting exercises, trends in examinee performance, score precision (and its effect on the pass/fail outcome), and historical record of passing standards.