Understanding Your Score

Understanding Your Score

Understanding Your Score

Scoring for Certification Exams

Understanding Your Score

How is my exam scored?

What is a passing score?  A passing score is the score set by the ICC and/or/with the Exam Development 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 minimum 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 “Exam Development Committees.”

What is a scale score?  A scaled score transforms a raw test score (the number of test questions answered 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 answered 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 specifications, 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 Subtraction,” 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”:

 

Exam Form Scoring Example

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 differences in difficulty). This would be confusing to candidates. So, we convert these raw scores to a constant scale such that, say, the designated 75 continues as the minimum score required to pass regardless 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.

Can my exam score be cancelled?

The Code Council reserves the right to revoke or withhold any examination scores if, in its sole opinion, there is adequate reason to question their validity. Reasons are:

  • Giving or receiving assistance with answers during testing
  • Using unauthorized materials during testing
  • Failing to abide by the rules presented or directions from the proctor(s)
  • Attempting to, or removing examination materials or questions from the testing center.

In cases of examination irregularities which are suspected at testing centers, the scores of the individual(s) involved will not be released unless approved by the Code Council. Additional sanctions may be authorized by the Board, which may include restrictions on retesting for up to three (3) years.

Some scores may be rendered invalid because of circumstances beyond the examinee’s control, such as faulty examination materials or mistiming. These situations will be investigated; when such occurrences result in cancellation of an examinee’s scores, the Code Council will arrange for a makeup examination for the examinees concerned.

Scoring for Contractor/Trades Exams

Most Contractor/Trades examinations require a candidate to answer at least 70 percent of their ques-tions correctly in order to pass the exam. The Master Electrician examination requires 75 percent of the questions to be answered correctly to pass. Particular licensing agencies may require a passing score of higher than 70. It is important that you carefully read the relevant bulletin or contact the licensing agency for information regarding their minimum passing requirement.


Can my exam score be cancelled?

The Code Council reserves the right to revoke or withhold any examination scores if, in its sole opinion, there is adequate reason to question their validity. Reasons are:

  • Giving or receiving assistance with answers during testing
  • Using unauthorized materials during testing
  • Failing to abide by the rules presented or directions from the proctor(s)
  • Attempting to, or removing examination materials or questions from the testing center.


In cases of examination irregularities which are suspected at testing centers, the scores of the individ-ual(s) involved will not be released unless approved by the Code Council. Additional sanctions may be authorized by the Board, which may include restrictions on retesting for up to three (3) years.


Some scores may be rendered invalid because of circumstances beyond the examinee’s control, such as faulty examination materials or mistiming. These situations will be investigated; when such occur-rences result in cancellation of an examinee’s scores, the Code Council will arrange for a makeup ex-amination for the examinees concerned.

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