Supplemental Information

Posted in Examination

Preparation, Validation and Scoring of the Examinations

Preparation and validation of the certifying begin with selection of the Examination Committee members and proctors (EC members PDF, Proctor Application form).  Members and proctors are selected on the basis of experience, expertise, areas of interest, and access to examination materials. Employment sector (academia, diagnostics, industry) is also considered in selection of Committee members. Separate Examination Committees prepare the Veterinary Anatomic Pathology and the Veterinary Clinical Pathology Phase II examinations.  Both committees participate in preparation of the Phase I examination.

Each year, Examination Committee members and proctors compose written questions and submit microscopic and chemistry cases for consideration in the examination.  Submitted questions and cases are reviewed for accuracy, clarity and relevance.  All written questions are referenced.  A pool of approved questions and cases is selected to produce a balanced examination in accordance with the ACVPs Job Task Analysis.  This pool may include questions and cases of proven quality and discrimination from previous examinations to ensure overall balance.

Grading of multiple-choice questions is automated.  The computer-generated item analysis, including the discriminatory and difficulty coefficients of each question is considered by the committee before final determination of candidate scores.  Microscopic and case essays are graded by committee members and proctors using a grading key.  All responses to a given case are assigned to one committee member to ensure uniformity of grading.  

During the entire examination process, candidates are identified only by number.  Scoring calculations are checked at least twice before they are accepted as final.   Examination committee members never learn the names of candidates that correspond to candidate numbers.

The passing point (cut score) is determined prior to grading of the examination using the Angoff method (for objectively scored questions) and the Extended Angoff method (for subjectively scored questions).  For both methods, a panel of ACVP diplomates reviews every test item during a standard setting study. With the Angoff method, each expert determines if a competent entry-level candidate should be able to correctly answer each question, and estimates the percentage of the minimally acceptable candidate group that would answer the question correctly.  These estimates, made independently by each expert, are then combined across all experts and questions to produce the minimally acceptable score. 

In order to ensure that examinations are of comparable difficultly, regardless of the year in which they were administered, an equating process is used to compare the difficulty of examinations given in different years and to adjust scores to reflect any differences in difficulty.  These adjusted scores are used to determine if candidates pass or fail the examination based on the pre-established cut score.

For more detailed information concerning passing points and examination equating, please see the following: Cut Score and Equating (PDF)

Responsibilities of Candidates, Sponsors and Training Institutions (PDF)