Behind the Scenes: BOC Exam Scoring Process and Timeline
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One of the biggest pieces of feedback the BOC receives from Program Directors, educators and exam candidates is: Why does it take so long to get my BOC exam results?
Each BOC exam administration window is approximately two weeks, and it takes another two to four weeks for results to be posted once that window has closed. During the post-exam window, psychometric analysis is completed to ensure exam fairness and integrity.
Psychometric Model - Based on Actual Number Taking the BOC Exam
The timing of reported scores depends highly on which type of psychometric model is being deployed. The choice in which model and how to score the exam is determined by a number of factors, particularly the size of the population taking the exam. The BOC has a relatively small number of candidates taking the exam and as a result the psychometric model used must be analyzed after the exam to ensure comparability with previous and future exams. The extra time taken to report scores from a BOC administration helps ensure the accuracy and fairness of the results.
Some health care professions with larger candidate populations are more likely to be capable of providing immediate scoring. For example, there were just over 2,400 first-time candidates in the 2022-2023 exam year (Mar-Feb) who took the BOC exam and there were over 200,000 first-time candidates who took the nurses NCLEX exam in 2022. NCLEX is an example of a program with a substantially larger population allowing for same day results. As you can see, what is right for the BOC exam may be different than other certification programs and is a function of the conditions of measurement associated with that program such as population size, exam mode and other factors.
Explanation and Timing
After the exam
has been administered, several steps are necessary to ensure fairness and
integrity of results. Each step is critical and drives our timeline.
window (process takes 2 to 4 weeks)
- Once the exam administration window closes, testing experts analyze the performance of each question as well as the full exam. The question analysis:
- Validates the accuracy and fairness of exam scores
- Involves BOC expert review of each individual question for psychometric quality (statistics that fall outside a set of parameters are flagged and warrant further investigation)
- Confirms the answer key and ensures questions were scored appropriately
- The BOC then conducts an equating study, which is a technical procedure that establishes the comparability of scores over time to have equivalent meaning on different exam versions. This ensures the passing standards are the same from test to test.
It is more appropriate statistically to do this study following an exam given the size of the population and is considered best practice based on the guidelines and standards of testing. This process provides a level of quality assurance before scores are finalized so that the most accurate decision about each candidate is made.
Bottom Line: The Importance of the Process
The BOC ATC® exam is a high-stakes exam and accuracy of results is of the utmost importance in awarding this credential, as well as vital to the safety of the patients to whom ATs render care. A number of stakeholders – including patients and state regulatory boards - depend on the certification of an AT representing proficiency in the necessary skills to perform job duties. The validity of the certification exam depends on a quality testing process. Results that candidates earn need to be accurate estimates of their proficiency in athletic training. The process BOC employs ensures accurate pass/fail decisions based on candidate performance.
The full BOC exam process is specifically outlined and consistently implemented to ensure validity – both before and after administration. The BOC ATC® exam is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and all exam policies and procedures align with NCCA Standards. At the end of the day, as an accredited credentialing organization, the BOC is required to continually validate exam performance and scoring using statistics to drive that validation process.