Performance Indicators for Exam Readiness

Scott Giles PT, DPT, MBA
Posted 9/15/23

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As you embark on your licensing journey it's essential to be risk-intolerant, meaning you should have the utmost confidence that your exam performance will surpass the criterion-referenced passing score. 
In this blog, we'll explore various performance indicators that can assist you in making a well-informed decision about when to take the exam. Much like preparing a plane for a long flight, ensuring you have the right amount of "fuel" (knowledge and skills) is critical to a successful journey.

Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

Making the decision to take the licensing exam involves carefully analyzing both quantitative and, to a lesser extent, qualitative data. Let's discuss some of the most useful performance indicators when determining exam readiness.

1. Overall Exam Score: One of the most compelling predictors of exam success is your overall exam score. Consistently strong scores across multiple practice exams from different sources indicate a high likelihood of passing the licensing exam. Assessing your exam scores using the “All Candidates Average Score” provides information on the relative difficulty of the given exam and offers a glimpse of your performance versus other students. The most essential take home message is that when making decisions using performance data, be sure to have enough data points to make valid judgements.

2. System Scores: Take a deeper dive into your performance by examining scores in different system categories (i.e., Musculoskeletal, Neuromuscular, Cardiopulmonary, Other Systems, Non-Systems). What type of trends are you observing? For example, are there specific categories where you are consistently performing strongly and others where you are consistently struggling? Have you incorporated these findings into your remedial activities? Be sure to pay extra special attention to categories that tend to have more questions (e.g., Musculoskeletal, Neuromuscular) as opposed to categories that have fewer questions (e.g., Cardiopulmonary, Non-Systems) on the actual exam. 

3. Item Response Data: Analyze item response data to identify trends in the types of questions you are missing. Are you missing questions where an extremely high percentage of other students are answering them correctly? Are you able to differentiate why a given incorrect option is not the BEST option even in instances where a reasonably high percentage of students selected this response?

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4. Basecamp Scorecard: If you utilize Basecamp, review your General Scorecard and the Arena Scorecard. A strong performance in these areas is indicative of solid academic command which is a foundational requirement to progress to the higher-level decision making required on licensing-like exams. Basecamp is a repetition tool and therefore all of your Scorecards should eventually look stunning prior to taking the exam!

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5. Online Advantage Leaderboards: If you utilize the Online Advantage – Student Version sample exams, the Leaderboards offer a wonderful opportunity to compare your mastery in five system areas and five content outline areas to other students. The exams are completely different than the questions in our review book and offer additional opportunities to experience alternate test items (i.e., video and scenario-based questions).

6. Study Stack: Keep track of the questions you want to review using the Study Stack. A simple click of the Study Stack icon allows you to add questions to your personal collection. As you progress through your study journey and your content knowledge continues to improve, you will notice that you use the Study Stack feature less frequently. This is a wonderful sign and a clear indicator of progress!

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7. Portfolio Distinction: Evaluate your mistakes in practice exams by classifying them as academic, decision-making or test-taking errors. Monitoring the frequency of each type of mistake allows you to adopt specific study strategies to address your individual issues.

8. Scoring vs. Elapsed Time: Track your performance over time when taking exams using Section Trends. Monitoring this type of information can provide valuable information related to concentration and endurance. For example, you may recognize that your performance slowly erodes with each passing hour or perhaps you experience a mid-exam lull before fully reengaging during the last hour of the exam. Many of the features we have discussed, like Section Trends, are diagnostic. However, once identified remedial strategies can be immediately implemented to improve exam performance.


In summary, your journey to exam success involves assessing multiple performance indicators. Objectively analyzing your readiness using quantitative and qualitative data is key to making the right decision about when to take the licensing exam. 
Remember, the licensing exam is a significant step in your professional career. By closely monitoring performance indicators and addressing areas of weakness, you can increase your chances of passing and ultimately achieving your career goals. Embark on your exam journey with confidence, knowing that you will be well-prepared to succeed.