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Two of the methods used to determine pass marks for online assessment within MSD are:

  1. The ‘Cohen method’ sets the pass mark relative to the performance of the best-performing students (typically the 95th centile) on the basis that these students will not vary significantly from year to year. This method requires a fairly large cohort of students for reliability. Cohen-Schotanus, J., & van der Vleuten, C. P. (2010). A standard setting method with the best performing students as point of reference: Practical and affordable. Medical teacher, 32(2), 154–160.
  2. Variations on the Angoff method (see e.g. QuestionMark handout) in which subject matter experts determine how likely a minimally competent or borderline candidate is to answer correctly. This can be applied question by question and then summed. Alternatively, variations on the Ebel method can be used to classify questions according to difficulty (e.g. easy, medium, hard) and relevance (e.g essential, important, acceptable and questionable). The Angoff likelihoods can then be applied to each class of question. This method requires a group of subject matter experts to go through an assessment question by question. We have a spreadsheet which can be used to collate Ebel-Angoff ratings.

Others, not used in the MSD as far as we are aware, but worth considering, are: the Hofstee method and the Borderline method for OSCEs