After key validation, a procedure designed to identify items that may be miskeyed or not functioning as expected, candidates' responses are scored and converted to standard scores. The standard scores are scaled so that the minimum passing score on each examination is 500.
The certification examinations assess a clearly defined domain of knowledge and skills. Candidates are certified upon achievement of a passing score on the examination.
The specialist certification examinations are criterion referenced, and the passing score for the examination is based on the content of the exam and an analysis of candidate performance.
Each specialty council forms a standard-setting committee composed of individuals who represent the spectrum of practitioners in the specialty area and who are diverse in the origins of their practice, theoretical approaches, practice setting, geographic area, sex, and race. Each standard-setting committee then participates in a content-based standard-setting study conducted by NBME. An outcome of each committee's standard-setting study meeting is the recommendation of a passing standard for the respective specialty examination. ABPTS makes a final decision regarding passing standards for each of the specialty examinations.
NBME scores the specialist certification examinations, and candidates are issued a report that specifies their score, the passing score on the examination, and an analysis of performance according to the major competency areas tested. Although the score is based on the actual number of questions answered correctly, it is a scaled score. ABPTS requires a scaled score of 500 to pass the examination.