The National Board administers two types of examinations: complete, integrated comprehensive examination Parts; and a short, limited-scope, special examination. The three Parts of the standard "National Boards" are designed primarily for different stages of a candidate's optometric education and training. Special examinations, on the other hand, are designed primarily for practitioners who wish to broaden their scope of practice in accordance with expanding practice statutes. Listed below are the National Board examinations scheduled for 2017.
Comprehensive Part Examinations ("National Boards")
The three comprehensive examination Parts are designed as a complete set of examinations to assess the cognitive, psychomotor, affective, and communication skills that are essential for entry-level optometric practice.
Each examination Part is developed by a broad geographic cross-section of the optometric community, which includes faculty members, state board members, and practitioners. These subject-matter experts comprise test development committees that are responsible for developing a specific portion or section of an examination Part. For written examinations, this activity consists of reviewing, editing, and selecting test items written by the National Board's team of consultant item writers and case writers. All test items are scrutinized for accuracy, conformance to the specific test content outline, and appropriateness for entry-level difficulty.
Each examination development committee is represented on one of the three examination councils, each of which also has representation by a liaison member from the Board of Directors. Every council is responsible for the integration of the component sections of one of the Parts, and may be responsible for a related special examination (e.g., TMOD). Throughout this process, the examination councils are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the entry-level appropriateness of all test content.
Each examination council also directs and reviews the scoring of the corresponding examination Part. This process includes the identification of flawed test items that should be deleted from scoring and any irregularities that might exert either a random or systematic deleterious effect on the scoring. The councils are accountable to the Board of Directors, which is ultimately responsible for the validity of the examinations, and the reliability of the examination results.
Part I ABS, Part II PAM, and TMOD are administered twice each year. Both administrations of the respective Parts are designed to be alike with respect to content, difficulty, and pass-fail cutoff scores. As these examinations are integrated tests, they each have one overall pass-fail standard that must be met. This allows candidates to compensate for areas of relative subject-matter weakness by other areas of relative strength. However, candidates who fail the overall Part must repeat the entire Part. Part III CSE is administered throughout the year.