PAEA End of Curriculum™ Exam: New Forms, Updated Standards, Updated National Data, and More

On January 10, 2022, PAEA will be releasing new forms of the End of Curriculum™ exam. Along with the new forms, there will be updated national data on student scores as well as revised standards. PAEA will also post the annual Safe Exam Browser update at that time. 

Updating the Standards 

The PAEA End of Curriculum exam standards (i.e., the scores corresponding to the dividing lines between Limited, Satisfactory, and Advanced Medical Knowledge) were set initially in 2019. Once set, standards are reviewed regularly to ensure the score scale and categorical scores defining each policy level adequately support the interpretation and use of the exam scores. Changes to test content or changes in the test-taker population necessitate revisiting the standards, with the best practice being to reconvene a standard setting panel and undergo the standard setting process in light of the changes to curriculum or student population. 

Following the administration of the End of Curriculum exam in 2020 and 2021, it was found that students were performing significantly higher than originally expected when the standards were set in 2019. In order to provide meaningful feedback to students and programs, a virtual standard setting utilizing updated performance data collected in 2020 and 2021 was convened between August 16 and September 9, with a total of 22 subject matter expert panelists participating in the process. Panelists discussed the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of PA students demonstrating different levels of medical knowledge, and reviewed an End of Curriculum exam form in its entirety, with each panelist ultimately making a recommendation for the scores necessary to achieve Satisfactory Medical Knowledge and Advanced Medical Knowledge. 


With the launch of the End of Curriculum exam in 2020, the three policy levels of Limited Medical Knowledge, Satisfactory Medical Knowledge, and Advanced Medical Knowledge were established with a scaled score of 1400 necessary to achieve Satisfactory Medical Knowledge and a scaled score of 1525 necessary to achieve Advanced Medical Knowledge. Following the culmination of the 2021 panel’s work and aggregation of their recommendations, a score of 1400 was again put forward to differentiate between the policy levels of Limited Medical Knowledge and Satisfactory Medical Knowledge. However, the panel recommended shifting the score necessary to achieve Advanced Medical Knowledge from 1525 to 1555.  

Upon reviewing the work and recommendations of the panel, the standards were officially approved by the PAEA Board of Directors in September as the final step in the standard setting process. The graphic below is what students will see upon receipt of their score reports, which includes their own performance relative to the performance levels and national average.

Next Steps 

The updated standards will be reflected in End of Curriculum exam score reports beginning in January of 2022. The established score scale of 1200 to 1800 will remain consistent and allow for comparisons between scores from 2020, 2021, and subsequent years (e.g., a score of 1500 in 2020 is comparable to a score of 1500 in 2022). The increase in the Advanced Medical Knowledge standard means that programs should expect more students to score in the Satisfactory Medical Knowledge policy level and fewer students to score in the Advanced Medical Knowledge policy level. Moving forward, exam performance and the appropriateness of the standards will continue to be monitored. 

Safe Exam Browser Updates 

If you are administering the End of Curriculum exam on or after December 22, PAEA recommends that you have your students or IT department download and install the new version of the browser and the new launch file for configuration. Aside from regular updates, this version includes a fix for Mac users that had occasionally been experiencing an error message when starting the browser. Additionally, new security features will prevent the browser from starting on computers that have a second monitor, which must be disconnected from the computer before beginning the exam. As always, the updated files will be available at

To learn more about the End of Curriculum exam and the recent updates,  please review our End of Curriculum Faculty Guide and the 2021 standard setting addendum, or visit the PAEA End of Curriculum website. 


Denise Rizzolo, PhD, MPH, PA-C

Director, Research & Publication

Assessment and Evaluation Specialist for PAEA

Robert Furter, PhD, MBA

Senior Director, Research & DataOps, Principal Psychometrician