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From:Lee & Peggy Wenk <>
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For those taking the HT/HTL exams:

There is an article in the August "Laboratory
Medicine" that you might be interest in, about
the scoring of the ASCP Board of Registry
(BOR) certification exams.

First of all, they explain how they give the
exams: The test gives a test question. If you
get it right, the next question is slightly 
harder. If you get it wrong, the next question
is slightly easier. The candidate needs to
answer enough "harder" questions to put them
over the 400 degree of difficulty pass range. 
Each question must be answered, before the 
next question is  given. At the end, the 
candidate can review the questions, and 
change answers if they want to.

Then, the article asks - does going back and
reviewing AND changing the answers increase
or decrease the candidate's final score?

They looked at (if memory serves me correctly.
I'm at home, the article is at work) about 
30,000 tests. The pass rate BEFORE reviewing 
was 67%. The pass rate AFTER reviewing was 69%.

So, it does look like reviewing and changing
the answers helps to raise the pass rate by
2% points.

I would suggest to only change those that you
know are wrong. Every year, I have at least
one student who, on my exams in the School,
tends to change more right answers to wrong
than from wrong to right. (I always "threaten"
to make that student take my exams with a
pen with no erasure!)

Also, the article mentions a method seen that
the test-taker was purposely trying to make an
easier test for themselves. They answered the
first 20 questions with the answer #1 (four
choices of answers, 1 through 4). They did not
have enough time to read any of the questions.
(BOR gets readings on overall time each candidate
took to take the exam, and time taken for
each question.) So this person purposely
answered wrong on the first 20 questions,
with the hopes of getting an easier exam. They
took the entire exam, then went back and
reviewed their answers, and changed many of
the first 20. They did pass, but their
final score was, in all likelihood,
below their true knowledge level.

(I have "heard" of people doing this before.
I always tell my students NOT to do this,
as you can dig yourself into a hole, and not
be able to answer enough questions correctly
to get yourself above the pass rate. Particularly
if you don't know the material that well.
And considering the national pass rate for
both HT and HTL is 50%, personally, I think
this would be too risky for the majority of
HT or HTL candidates to try. SO DON'T DO THIS!)

The article also mentioned that the tests are
now set up that, if someone misses 40 out of the
100 exam questions, the exam automatically
starts asking questions at the pass rate degree
of difficulty, rather than the low degree of 
difficulty that the person is working at. This
is a way to stop the "cheating" of trying to
get an easier test and possibly having the
candidate dig the hole too deeply so they
can't pass.

The article also mentions a couple of other
things they are looking at, to try to
stop these types of "cheating" techniques.
Look over the article, and see what the
ASCP BOR is thinking about.

That's the summary of the article. There's
more information about the number of 
questions changed, their pass rate, etc.
I would recommend that program directors
of Schools read this article, plus anyone
thinking about taking the exam, and those
who are supervisors who train techs on the

One request - If you found this article
helpful/useful, PLEASE fill out a
reply post card that is in the journal and
mail it in. We need to let "Laboratory Medicine"
know  that we need/want these kinds of articles.


Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)
William Beaumont Hospital
Royal Oak, MI 48073
(Also on the ASCP "Laboratory Medicine"
Editorial Advisory Committee."

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