What is a passing score?

A passing score is the score set by the ICC and/or/with the Exam Devel-opment Committee (EDC) as the minimum score needed to pass the exam. This score is technically called a scale score and is set as 75 for the National Certification exams.

How is a passing score set?

A passing score is set as part of the process at the Exam Development Committee. This part of the process involves setting item-level cut-scores, using the expert judgment of the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who are at the EDC. These experts determine what the mini-mum is that the candidate needs to know in order to obtain the certificate, and a passing score. If you’d like to participate as an SME, visit www.iccsafe.org/certification and click on “Get Involved.”

What is a scale score? A scaled score transforms a raw test score (the number of test questions an-swered correctly) into other measurement units, called a scale score. However, please know that a scale score is not the number of questions answered correctly, nor the percentage of questions an-swered correctly.

Is the current test more or less difficult than prior tests, or future tests? There are multiple forms of the ICC examinations. While these forms were developed from the same set of content specifica-tions, the levels of difficulty of the forms will vary because different exam questions appear on different forms. Some of these questions by their nature (and designated in the cut-score) are more difficult than others, even though they pertain to the same section of the exam. It would be unfair to require a candidate taking a collection (form) of somewhat more difficult questions to answer as many questions correctly as a candidate who took an easier form. So, we use a statistical procedure known as scaling to correct for differences in test form difficulty.

Think of it this way. Let’s say an elementary school hired the ICC to create an exam to test for knowledge of aspects of mathematics. Further, let’s say the exam was called “Addition and Subtrac-tion,” and the Exam Information Bulletin states it is a 100-item exam.
Look at the first ten questions of two different exam forms, both of which measure the concept of  "Addition and Subtraction":

Question Exam Form 1 Question Exam Form 2
1. 2 + 4 = 1. 6 + 9 =
2. 6 + 4 = 2. 16 + 26 =
3. 7 – 3 = 3. 18 – 16 =
4. 18 + 15 = 4. 23 + 99 =
5. 16 – 4 = 5. 86 – 44 =
6. 8 + 8 = 6. 5 + 1 =
7. 4 + 9 = 7. 29 + 88 =
9. 4 + 15 = 9. 48 + 96 =
10. 7 – 4 = 10. 55 + 38 =


As you can see, the questions on Form 2 are a bit harder than the questions on Form 1. If these were both 100-item exam forms with such a continuing mix of items, it would be unfair to require the students who were administered Exam Form 2 to answer the same number of questions correctly in order to pass.

Why scale the scores?

If we simply reported the total number of questions answered correctly (the raw score), there would be a different passing score for each form of the test (because of those differ-ences in difficulty). This would be confusing to candidates. So, we convert these raw scores to a con-stant scale such that, say, the designated 75 continues as the minimum score required to pass re-gardless of the form administered, knowing the number of correct answers needed to pass varies from form to form and from year to year.

What is reported?

Scaled scores of 75 or above are reported as PASS. The ICC does not report the numeric score; the score report simply indicates a passing score by saying PASS. Those who fail the exam are provided the numeric scaled score, along with diagnostic information of their performance on major content areas. This information is for self-evaluation only.