Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Partnering with People

How is the pass mark for the exam set?

The pass mark is set in reference to the content and the difficulty of the test questions. The pass mark is NOT set using a norm-referenced approach such as “bell curving”. The pass mark is set by a panel of
content experts from across Canada. These content experts work closely with entry-level Registered Psychiatric Nurses, and include educators, experienced practitioners and administrators. The pass mark is set at a level that represents the performance expected of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse.

The panel of content experts reviews each exam question and produces ratings based on a common understanding of a competent entry-level practical nurse. In addition to these ratings, a variety of relevant data (for example, information on the preparation of new graduates, data on results from previously administered exam) are carefully considered to ensure that the pass mark that candidates must achieve on the exam is valid and fair. Based on this information, an appropriate pass mark is set. Also, to ensure fairness, the different versions of the exam are equated so that all candidates have to meet the same standard regardless of the version of the exam.

For each form of the RPNCE, the pass mark is the same across writing centres and across the four western provinces.

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