Pilot scoring, also called provisional scoring, is a task that bolsters the validity of a test. It is important because it allows psychometricians to examine performance and analyze the data to provide quantitative feedback to the test development team. With this data, the psychometricians, working with subject matter experts, determine what is the raw score needed to pass the exam.
In order to set the passing score, a statistically appropriate amount of data needs to be collected. Depending on the number of test-takers actively seeking certification in the particular healthcare field, it can take up to eight weeks to obtain a large enough sample to support a determination of the passing score. During that period of time, test takers will need to wait to learn whether they have passed the exam.
Not all new exam releases require a pilot scoring period. Candidates are notified in advance if the new exam they are taking requires pilot scoring and a delay in issuing exam results. If there is not a pilot scoring period required for an exam, candidates will receive exam results right away.