Cut-scores revisited: Feasibility of a new method for group standard setting

Boaz Shulruf, Lee Coombes, Arvin Damodaran, Adrian Freeman, Philip Jones, Steve Lieberman, Phillippa Poole, Joel Rhee, Tim Wilkinson, Peter Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Standard setting is one of the most contentious topics in educational measurement. Commonly-used methods all have well reported limitations. To date, there is not conclusive evidence suggesting which standard setting method yields the highest validity. Methods: The method described and piloted in this study asked expert judges to estimate the scores on a real MCQ examination that they consider indicated a clear pass, clear fail, and pass mark for the examination as a whole. The mean and SD of the judges responses to these estimates, Z scores and confidence intervals were used to derive the cut-score and the confidence in it. Results: In this example the new method's cut-score was higher than the judges' estimate. The method also yielded estimates of statistical error which determine the range of the acceptable cut-score and the estimated level of confidence one may have in the accuracy of that cut-score. Conclusions: This new standard-setting method offers some advances, and possibly advantages, in that the decisions being asked of judges are based on firmer constructs, and it takes into account variation among judges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 7 2018


  • Angoff
  • Assessment
  • MCQ
  • Standard setting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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