Psychology Board of Australia - First national psychology exam quality assurance project completed
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First national psychology exam quality assurance project completed

12 Mar 2019

The Psychology Board of Australia (the Board) has completed a quality assurance project to improve the national psychology exam’s reliability and use.

The Board introduced the national psychology exam (the exam) in 2013 to ensure a consistent professional standard of psychologists who apply for general registration across the various non-accredited training pathways. The exam is one of many regulatory tools used by the Board to protect the public.

The Board is committed to ensuring the exam provides the best possible assessment of the competencies required for general registration as a psychologist in Australia and has agreed to regularly review and evaluate the exam content, effectiveness, processes and policies. The project was a major step in this commitment.

What was done?

The project evaluated the quality and functioning of the exam to ensure that it is fair, reliable, effective and fit-for-purpose. The project also aimed to identify any areas of the exam that should be improved.

What were the results?

The project results showed that:

  • The exam appears to be well-suited to its intended population with adequate item difficulty to ensure that those who pass the exam can demonstrate the core competencies for safe practice on the public.
  • The 70% pass mark is working well and reinforces this benchmark as the minimum level of applied knowledge required for independent psychology practice.
  • There is considerable overlap between the four exam curriculum domains. This result supports the Board’s policy to require candidates to pass the exam overall, rather than passing each domain in addition to achieving an overall pass mark. The Board considers that requiring candidates to pass all four domains in addition to an overall pass would be unnecessary regulation.
  • The item bank sufficiently assesses the competencies for general registration.

The project results demonstrate that the exam is an effective, strong and reliable regulatory instrument. The project indicates that the exam is a useful regulatory tool in the Board’s suite of tools to ensure that candidates are suitably trained and qualified to practice the profession in a competent and ethical manner that protects the public.

Next steps

The Board will author a peer-reviewed journal article on the project results. Stakeholders will be advised when an article is available.

Minor improvements to targeted exam items will be undertaken to further strengthen the exam as part of the quality assurance process.

As a next step in the Board’s commitment to regularly review and evaluate the exam content, effectiveness, processes and policies, the Board will be reviewing the Guidelines for the national psychology exam and the Policy and procedure for candidates who fail the national psychology exam three times during 2019.

Page reviewed 12/03/2019