Exam Development Summit a Whirlwind Success!

Although some surprise spring snow on the East Coast thinned the ranks slightly, 61 Exam Development Board members came together in Atlanta, Georgia, last week for the fourth annual PAEA Exam Development Summit. Over the course of three and a half days, writers worked diligently to review more than 1,500 items that will appear in the:

  • 6th version of the End of RotationTM exams being released in July
  • 23rd version of PACKRATTM coming out in November
  • First version of the End of CurriculumTM exam, which will be pilot tested this fall before a January 2020 release. (Sign up here to be the first to know more.)

After a short first afternoon of reunions, norm-setting, and item review, the event formally kicked off with a lively opening dinner and reception, which concluded with some healthy competition that saw members racing to answer 20-year-old questions from the first APAP GRADRAT exam. Changing standards of care made it quite a challenge, but a team from the Emergency Medicine & General Surgery Exam Development Board kept cool heads and prevailed to get all 10 answers correct.

The next morning, members were treated to a thought-provoking keynote talk from Peter DiCaprio, a consultant at Cook Ross, who spoke about unconscious bias and the ways your engrained experiences can influence your actions — and your clinical scenario writing — despite your best intentions, and gave participants tools for thinking through potential problem areas.

Then the intense work began. During the summit, each exam development board gathered in a room and painstakingly reviewed every item the group members wrote during the year’s production cycle to make sure they are as strong as possible before students see them. They made tweaks based on the most current medical standards (including the American College of Cardiology’s 2017 hypertension guidelines) and what is appropriate for students at the relevant stage of their education — specific to each exam’s purpose. Select members also performed key validation of each exam, reviewing the statistics of items from the active exams to ensure they are performing as expected among students, putting a critical eye to their group’s work if it is not as clear as expected.

New item writers participated in training on the work ahead of them, with a workshop led by PAEA Editor in Chief Kim Cavanagh. Our eight new writers jumped right in to review items, then learned more about item construction in PAEA style.

On Friday evening, participants took a break from the meticulous work to let loose at the World of Coca-Cola. They had a private tour of the museum, learning about the original medicinal purpose of Coca-Cola.

Then they enjoyed a special dinner in the Taste It! Room, where everyone sampled beverages from around the world.












On Saturday was the Business Meeting, which focused on updates on PAEA Assessment and the Exam Development Board work. It was also an opportunity for the PAEA Assessment Team to share our gratitude with participants for their tireless dedication.

PAEA President Lisa Mustone Alexander gave remarks during the Business Meeting, thanking participants for their contributions on behalf of the Board. There was also a drawing to recognize all of those writers who managed to balance their day jobs, personal lives, and volunteer commitments to complete their assignments on time. After another long day of item writing, members had a chance to get out of the hotel they were sharing with NCAA Sweet Sixteen fans, in town to witness some thrilling upsets, and enjoy the buzz of Atlanta. The meeting concluded on Sunday afternoon with a race to the finish line.

We are elated with the accomplishments of the summit and look forward to kicking off the 2018–19 process with equal enthusiasm and collaboration. Thank you to the Exam Development Board members, chairs, and staff who gave long hours and positive energy to ensure the success of PAEA Assessment products.

Photos courtesy of PAEA staff members Emily Yunker and Chiquita Carey.