PA-CAT Scoring and ReportingInformation for Candidates and Programs
“Strong correlation between scores on the PA-CAT and academic performance is seen. Our weakest students were noted to have the lowest PA-CAT scores in their cohort. Additionally, our strongest students performed well on the PA-CAT. This tool may be helpful in screening potential applicants, as well as monitoring students who may be at risk for poor performance.”
PA-CAT Score Reporting
Within 8 weeks after you have taken the PA-CAT™, your Official Score Report will be available online for two years from the date of your test administration, and Official Transcripts will be sent to the institutions you designated to receive your scores.
Your PA-CAT scores will be reported on your Official Transcript.
Physician Assistant programs and departments will only accept Official Transcripts. The Official Score Report that will be available online cannot be submitted to a school in lieu of an Official Transcript
Under no circumstances will scores be reported over the phone, in an email, or faxed.
Interpreting Your PA-CAT Scores
PA-CAT is not an exam with a passing score. PA programs using the PA-CAT as part of their admissions process will receive the following information:
- Candidate Exam Scaled Score
- Candidate Subject Group Scaled Score
Essentially, the PA program using your PA-CAT will use your results to see how they compare to the results of other candidates applying to the same school(s) as you, and how your results compare to a national sample of exam takers.*
*Note: Because of the COVID virus situation, fewer candidates were able to take the PA-CAT during this period than planned. Therefore, individual percentile rankings are not included in initial score reports. However, for reference, an early norm table of quintile rankings, subject to change, is provided in your notification email. This early norm table will provide useful comparisons of individual performance against the total cohort of PA-CAT examinees to date, and until such time that sufficient data exists to provide individualized candidate percentile rankings
PA-CAT Scores FAQ
What is a “Norm Table”?
A norm table is a table of values representing the aggregate PA-CAT test results from all candidates. A norm table typically shows rankings of the results for comparative analysis. Initially, the PA-CAT norm table groups candidate scores by quintile with each quintile representing the scores of 20% of the examinees. These are ranked as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th (or bottom) quintile. Candidates whose scores were equal to or better than 80% of all the candidate scores would fall into the top quintile. Candidates whose scores were lower than 80% of all candidate scores would fall into the 5th or bottom quintile.
Do all of the PA-CAT test items count toward the total score?
Questions found in standardized exams must be rigorously tested prior to their use to ensure that they are at the appropriate level of difficulty, do not result in bias, and accurately measure the concept to be tested. Thus, the PA-CAT includes both “active” questions and “pilot” questions. The pilot questions do not count toward the score but are included in the exam for evaluation prior to possible use in later versions of the exam.
The PA-CAT covers 9 subjects, but I only see three sub-scores. Why is that?
The PA-CAT consists of 200 scored items covering nine subjects. Some subjects, like anatomy and physiology, are weighted more heavily on the exam. For statistical accuracy, only the subject areas with the most questions can be compiled into a sub-score. The smaller subject does count toward the overall exam score and are important measures of student knowledge in those areas. Scoring results in Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, and Chemistry have the most impact on your overall PA-CAT score.
How will PA programs use my PA-CAT score as part of their admissions decisions?
PA Programs evaluate a variety of criteria and candidate qualifications in order to determine if a candidate is a good fit for their program. Historically, many PA programs used the GRE as a standardized exam to help determine the academic strength of a candidate. The PA-CAT is designed to be more closely targeted to measuring candidate knowledge in the foundational subjects new PA students need to understand well in order to succeed in PA school. Thus, the PA-CAT is designed to help programs determine whether a candidate is academically prepared for PA school, the results of which will be used as part of a holistic admissions process. PA-CAT results might also help PA programs distinguish between candidates with similar qualifications and experience.
For more questions, check out the PA-CAT Scores FAQ link below!
Important Information for Participating Programs
PA-CAT scores will be reported on a scaled basis to minimize measurement errors and to maximize reporting accuracy of results across different versions of the exam. A scaled score can also help better differentiate between academically weaker and stronger examinees based on item difficulty and other factors. Scaled scores also help all stakeholders more accurately compare results over time. For additional information about the PA-CAT consult the PA-CAT Program Information Guide.
Exam Master would like to thank Julie Kinzel and the students at Drexel University's PA program for allowing us to capture their students in action, on their way to becoming PAs!
Pictures courtesy of Julie Kinzel and the students at Drexel University PA.