The NSCA wants to be sure your test scores give an accurate representation of your skill and knowledge level. Since different forms (or versions) of an NSCA exam may vary in difficulty, we use scaled scoring to ensure a fair assessment no matter which version you are given.
After taking an NSCA certification exam, you will receive two scores: a raw score and a scaled score. Your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly on your exam, but these scores are not intended to guide your future test preparation as they are based on limited information as compared to your total test performance.
The scaled score is statistically derived from your raw score. Scaled scores range from 1-100, and you must earn a scaled score of 70 or higher to pass.
The passing score reflects the amount of knowledge that a committee of experts has determined to be appropriate for credentialing. A criterion-referenced standard setting procedure and expert judgement are used to evaluate each item on the entire examination in order to identify the passing point. Therefore, your score is not based on a curve—it is determined independently of all other exam candidates.
As new forms of the exam are introduced, a certain number of questions in each content area are replaced by new questions. In effect, some versions of the exams are slightly easier or harder than others. To adjust for these differences in difficulty levels, a procedure called “equating” is used. This method makes certain that an exam created will correlate to the difficulty of an exam created 5 years ago.
The equating system used—and the manner in which the passing point is established—follows nationally-recognized psychometric protocols supported by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Review the NSCA Certification Handbook to best understand the exam process.