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I achieved above the minimum component score for every component but still failed the exam. Why?
A candidate is required to reach the minimum required score for each component (anatomy, pathology and physiology) of the examination and is required to reach the minimum required overall score. The minimum required component scores represent the minimum acceptable knowledge in a component. The overall score represents the cumulative knowledge required to pass. The minimum component score allows a candidate to compensate for a weaker component by stronger scores in others, but ensures a minimum level of knowledge is attained. The cumulative minimum required component scores are set below the minimum required overall score.
If, however, you achieve above the minimum required component score for each component, as well as obtain an overall score within one error width of the required overall score on two occasions, your second attempt will be elevated to a minimum standard pass.
I achieved more than the minimum required overall score to pass the exam so why did I fail? What is a 'component fail'?
Although your overall score may be greater than the minimum required overall score to pass the exam, the additional requirement is to reach the minimum required score for each component (anatomy, pathology and physiology) as well. The cumulative minimum required component scores are actually set below the minimum required overall score. The minimum required component scores represent the lowest acceptable scores consistent with demonstrating adequate knowledge as a surgical trainee in that subject. Failure to reach the minimum required score for each component results in a 'component fail' and failure of the exam regardless of your overall score.
I've averaged my anatomy, pathology and physiology scores and they are above the minimum required overall score. Why did I fail?
Although there are three discipline components to the Generic Surgical Sciences Examination, they are not equally weighted. Anatomy is worth approximately 50 per cent, pathology and physiology approximately 25 per cent each. The relative contributions for each may vary slightly if removing questions from scoring is deemed necessary on final review of the analysis of results. Furthermore it is important that your score in each component is above the minimum required component score. If it is not, then your result will be a 'component fail' and thus you will fail the exam as a whole regardless of your overall score.
Why are the minimum required scores for each component and the minimum required overall score different between exams?
Each examination undergoes rigorous statistical analysis and as a result, the performance statistics for each exam are subtly different. The minimum required scores for each component and overall are reviewed and adjusted to account for differences in exam difficulty and to maintain standards. This ensures that candidates are not disadvantaged by a slightly more 'difficult' examination.
Why are the contributions for each component of the exam not exactly 50% for anatomy, 25% for pathology and 25% for physiology?
The examiners setting the exam construct test questions for each component that are approximately 50 per cent for anatomy, 25 per cent for pathology and 25 per cent for physiology. A comprehensive review of the examination and how each question performed means that some questions may be removed from scoring the examination (only after review and consensus by the relevant committee). When this occurs, the contributions for each component alters slightly, and the whole examination is scored from a reduced total. This may slightly change the relative contribution of each component of the examination, but not the worth of each correct (or incorrect) response.
Can I combine minimum required component scores over multiple examinations to achieve an overall pass?
No. Only component scores in a single examination can be used.
The scores in my latest sitting are above the minimum required scores of a previous exam but I still failed. Why?
Each examination, the minimum required scores (for each component and overall) are reviewed and adjusted to account for differences in exam difficulty and to maintain standards. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the examinations are of similar difficulty, variations due to the use of different questions has to be taken into account and the minimum required scores adjusted accordingly to ensure fairness to candidates. This means that the minimum required scores will be slightly higher if the exam is slightly easier or the minimum required scores will be slightly lower if the exam is slightly harder.
Why does it take so long to get results back?
While efforts are underway to reduce the time it takes to get results back to candidates, producing the results requires more than just scoring and marking. The anatomy spot questions need to be reviewed individually by members of the Anatomy Committee and all results undergo statistical analysis and review.
All questions from all disciplines which are found to be statistical outliers or are performing unexpectedly are reviewed when the Anatomy, Pathology and Physiology Committees convene in Melbourne after the examination. These questions are discussed and may be remarked or removed from the examination scoring if they are felt to be detrimental to the candidates.
Following this process the entire exam is analysed again to determine the final candidate scores and the minimum required score for each individual component of the examination (anatomy, pathology and physiology) as well as the minimum required score overall.
Finally, applications for special consideration are deliberated by the Surgical Science & Clinical Examinations Committee before all results are finally ratified and then released to candidates.