Standard setting

Standard setting in OSCEs aims to reach a consensus on professional values and standards that determines those candidates who have sufficient skills to proceed on to the next level of study or qualification. There are numerous methods of standard setting in OSCEs, for example the modified Angoff method or the Hofstee method. However the borderline regression method appears to have gained popularity in most medical schools. In this method, examiners are asked to complete the checklist score for a candidate performing a station. Following this they are asked to award a global score or grade. The number of scores can vary however for the purposes of this training resource we will use a 5 point global score rating scale - namely:

  • outstanding
  • very good
  • pass
  • borderline
  • fail

The borderline grade reflects those candidates whom the examiner feels haven't performed enough to pass the station but equally not enough to clearly fail. Following this candidates' checklist scores are collated. The global scores are also collated and statistically regressed against the checklist scores. This process will then derive the cut or passing score.

Examiners tend to favour this method of standard setting given that it is less time consuming and based on actual observation rather than on a hypothetical candidate's performance.