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Med Teach. 2017 Apr;39(sup1):S75-S79. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2016.1254752. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Challenging the arbitrary cutoff score of 60%: Standard setting evidence from preclinical Operative Dentistry course.

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a Faculty of Dentistry , King Abdulaziz University , Jeddah , Saudi Arabia.
b Faculty of Medicine , King Abdulaziz University , Jeddah , Saudi Arabia.
c Medical Education Department , University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago , IL , USA.



This paper conducted standard setting (SS) (Angoff and Hofstee methods) to determine cutoff scores for summative examinations and to compare the derived passing levels to the existing fixed passing score of 60% in the Faculty of Dentistry at King Abdulaziz University.


Historic performance data for final examinations in preclinical Operative Dentistry course were used by four raters to conduct both Angoff and Hofstee methods to determine the cut off scores for three academic years (2012, 2013, and 2014).


Both methods yielded higher than 60% cut off scores for each year. For the first examination of academic year 2012, the cutoff score was 64.75, while it was 63.5 for year 2013, and 66.75 for the last academic year of 2014. Hofstee scores were 64.5, 65.25, and 62.25 consecutively for years 2012 through 2014.


Using Angoff or Hofstee methods, yielded higher than the fixed 60% passing score currently used by the dental school. The use of Angoff method alone is encouraged as there were limitations to using the Hofstee method to determine the cut off score. This finding provides preliminary support to use evidence-based SS methods to determine the cutoff score for the whole Dentistry program.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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