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How are the NBCE examinations scored?

The NBCE follows the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing established by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), and National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME). The goal of the NBCE is to develop tests that produce valid and reliable scores for all populations of test takers.

Reliability refers to score stability over time as well as internal consistency of the test. This means that whenever a test developed by the NBCE is administered, the results are replicable if the same individuals were tested again under similar conditions. We constantly study performance of our tests and eliminate factors that may contribute to unreliability of the scores.

Validity of test scores refers to the relation between the variability in the scores and the variability on the construct the NBCE intends to measure. We follow the idea of Lee Cronbach who described validation as the process by which a test developer or test user collects evidence to support the types of inferences that are to be drawn from test scores. We make sure that our tests are valid for all populations of test takers.

To produce scaled Board scores, the NBCE employs Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT) for its scoring practices. Because test questions are not equally difficult, we factor in the difficulty of each question. An examinee who correctly answers difficult questions is demonstrating greater knowledge than someone who answers the same number of easy questions correctly. As a result, the NBCE scaled score will depend on which items examinee answers correctly and their relative difficulty, as well as the relative difficulty of this specific exam. Therefore, the Board scores are not simply the number (or percentage) of correct answers.

The next step in scoring is a statistical process called equating, which allows the NBCE to compare performance on the current and previous versions of an examination. Through a series of statistical calculations, the NBCE equates its exams; then translates the equated scores into a scaled score between 125 and 800. Scaling is a complex process of associating numbers or other indicators with the performance of examinees. The reported scaled scores are obtained by converting raw scores onto a common scale to account for variability in difficulty across different test forms. Therefore, there is no direct relationship between the percentage of correctly-answered items and scaled scores

When will I get my scores?

Scores for Parts I, II, III, IV, and Physiotherapy are generally available online, six weeks after the examination. Scores for SPEC and Acupuncture are generally available online, three weeks after the exam.

Why does it take six weeks to score an examination?

The NBCE is committed to providing fair, valid, and reliable assessments. Our tests measure knowledge and skills, promote learning and performance, and support professional development for chiropractors in the United States and worldwide. At NBCE, we are passionate about our mission to advance quality of the assessment by following the best, up-to-date practices accepted in the fields of educational measurement and professional testing.  In order to assure that both the processing and scoring of NBCE examinations are done in a fair, secure and accurate fashion, it is necessary to follow a number of steps before the scores could be produced. These steps include:

  • Accounting for all answer sheets
  • Carefully reading all comments made by examinees
  • Researching certain questions based on the comments made
  • Processing scores, including answer verification
  • Conducting post-exam review for problematic test questions involving a panel of judges and several references
  • Hand-checking of scores just below the failing point
  • Proofing and posting scores to an individual’s permanent record
  • Printing and releasing scores
  • Additionally, we perform statistical item and test analyses for all phases of the testing program. These analyses involve computing a set of statistics for every item in each form on the test. Each statistic is designed to provide some key information about the quality of each item from an empirical perspective. It is also a quality control step to verify answer keys and that the item is performing as expected for the purpose of contributing to student scores.
How many subjects should I pass to pass the Part I or Part II examination?

You must pass all the six of the subjects in Part I and in Part II.

Therefore, to pass the Part I exam, you must pass General Anatomy, Spinal Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Pathology, and Microbiology.

To pass the Part II exam, you must pass General Diagnosis, Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis, Diagnostic Imaging, Principles of Chiropractic, Chiropractic Practice, and Associated Clinical Sciences.

What are the current pass rates for the examinations?

The NBCE does not predetermine the number or percentage of examinees who will pass any of its exams. Theoretically, as many as 100% of candidates could pass; or, conceivably, the passing rate could be 0%. While the majority of examinees pass our tests, the passing rate may vary from one chiropractic college to another, and from one year to another.

What is a score analysis?

A score analysis is available to any examinee with failing scores on Parts I, II, III, Physiotherapy, and Part IV. A separate analysis is provided for each failed exam (i.e., each Part I or Part II subject, Part III, or Physiotherapy).

Score analyses are provided as assessment tools for your benefit and will not be reported to any third party. You can access your score analysis and all other score reports through your MyNBCE user account.

Can I retake an examination that I passed in order to raise my score?

No. You are NOT eligible to retake an NBCE exam you have previously passed. You MUST have received express written request or requirement from a state licensing authority to do so.