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 of 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 an examinee answers correctly and their relative difficulty, as well as the relative difficulty of the 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.  

For additional information on score analysis click here.

For invalidation of scores policy click here

When Will I Get My Scores?

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

Part IV Scores & Appeals

Concerns During Exam Administration

If at any time during the Part IV Exam administration you encounter a situation that might have a significant impact on your performance, immediately notify the NBCE official in charge at the test site. The official will attempt to resolve the matter according to administrative guidelines established for the Part IV Exam. Administrative problems that are not brought to the attention of test site personnel may be impossible to resolve after the exam is over.

Post-exam Review

Following the exam, the NBCE will carefully review the statistical performance of each test question and will read and research examinees’ written concerns regarding test questions. Final scores will be determined after all test questions have been evaluated by the Testing department. To ensure that each exam is scored accurately, the NBCE will also thoroughly check the answer sheets of each examinee. You will not be allowed to review exam questions or answer sheets following the administration of the exam.

Part IV Appeals

An examinee may submit a written appeal if the examinee believes that his/her examination results were adversely affected by administrative irregularities during the examination. An administrative irregularity is anything unexpected or unplanned that impacts the normal operation of an exam administration. 

Examples of an administrative irregularity (includes, but not limited to):

*Weather events, power failures, health/safety/welfare concerns, issues with exam materials, etc.

A failing score is not by itself sufficient grounds for an appeal.

The NBCE charges a processing fee of $150.00 to review appeals requests. The NBCE must receive the appeal and fee payment no later than 10 business days following the release of scores.

If the NBCE upholds an appeal, it will:

  • Void the examinee’s failing score
  • Offer the examinee an exam retake, free of charge
  • Refund the appeal fee

The appeals process is the final authority and, if the appeal is denied, there is no further review by the NBCE.

You may file and pay for an appeal through your Part IV application in your mynbce account. First, click on the view button by your Part IV application. Then, click on file appeal and follow the steps. You will receive an email once the appeal has been reviewed and a final decision is determined. This option is only available for 10 days, beginning on score release day.

Why Are The Examination Scores Not Immediately Available?

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.

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.

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.

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