Understanding Scaled Scores

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Introduction: In January 2015, CIMA syllabus as well as the way to examine students’ knowledge has changed. Since then we have OT exams (computer based, that can be taken anytime in a dedicated centre) and case studies (computer based, 4 times a year). OT exams’ questions are kept in a database and each time a student sits down to an exam, 60 questions are randomly drawn and students have 90 minutes to answer them. Between January and November 2015, those questions were marked equally, despite some of the questions being long and difficult while others were short and easy.

Since November 2015, in an exam’s feedback part, you can also find a scaled score.

What is it and how does it work?

A scaled score is basically a weighted score that reflects a raw score the candidate has received, which gets adjusted by the difficulty level of each question and the ability you need to prove by a particular question.

A scaled score ensures that all candidates receive a score that is comparable across multiple versions of the same exam, potentially taken at different times. If you have taken an OT exam before, you have experienced that a “multiple choice” question with one correct answer is much easier than the “fill in the blank” question with a long scenario or even (our favourite…) “Select ALL that apply”.

Scaling the test scores and setting a passing standard ensure that all candidates are treated fairly.

The new assessment technique has the following three elements:

  1. An overall grade
  2. A scaled score between 0 – 150 (100 or above representing a PASS)
  3. An indication of performance against each of the competencies

The 2nd point is a novelty, a good one I shall say. Have a look how it appears in reality:

CIMA results scaled score proficient


To pass an objective test exam, you must achieve a scaled score of 100 or more out of 150, which makes a passing score 67% (as opposed to 70% previously). Each candidate has a different set of 60 questions. Those questions are drawn from a central database, so you may have few similar questions to your colleagues, but most likely they will be in a different order.

The passing standard, corresponding to a scaled score of 100, for each of the nine exams has been set independently using an industry recognised standard setting procedure where a panel of experts determine the minimum level of competence, or ability, required to pass each exam. The statistics used to indicate how students demonstrate the ability, were based on data from the past exams between January and November 2015.

The level of ability corresponding to the passing standard varies across the exams; i.e. the underlying ability level associated with the passing standard for E1 is slightly different than the underlying ability level associated with the passing standard for F1, because different content is being examined and therefore the level of minimal competence to be demonstrated is different.

If you would like to read more, this is a link to the CIMA official website with a link: scaled score explanation.


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