Setting the Pass/Fail Standard
One of the most important components of a high-quality and defensible examination program is a fair and reasonable approach to identifying a "cut" score – the score at or above which a candidate is deemed to have passed an examination.
For the NBOME’s COMLEX-USA examinations, a "passing score" means the examinee has demonstrated at least a minimal level competency by scoring at or above the level judged to be required for safe and effective practice of osteopathic medicine at the supervised level (e.g., COMLEX-USA Level 1, Level 2-CE, Level 2-PE) or for the unsupervised, independent practice of osteopathic medicine (e.g., COMLEX-USA Level 3).
Every three to five years, the NBOME reviews the standards for minimum competency required to pass COMLEX-USA examinations. This process, typically referred to as "standard setting," may result in a change in the "cut score" (or scores) needed to pass an examination.
The current schedule for periodic review of the pass/fail standard is as follows:
- COMLEX-USA Level 1: The standard will be revisited in 2014-2015, and a new standard will likely be implemented with the new testing cycle beginning May 2015.
- COMLEX-USA Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation: The standard will be revisited in 2013-2014 and a new standard will likely be implemented with the new testing cycle in June 2014.
- COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation: The standard for the Biomedical/Domain was revisited in 2012-2013 and a new standard will be implemented with the new testing cycle July 2013. The standard for the Humanistic Domain was revisited in 2011-2012 and a new standard was implemented with the new testing cycle in July 2012.
- COMLEX-USA Level 3: The standard will be revisited in 2014-2015 and a new standard will likely be implemented with the new testing cycle in March 2015
Periodic review and resetting of the pass/fail standards for COMLEX-USA examinations ensures the standards of osteopathic medical licensure assessment reflect current medical education and medical practice. The process is consistent with the NBOME’s mission of protecting the public by assessing competencies for osteopathic medicine and related health professionals.