Get trustable results : Require a topic score as a prerequisite to pass a test

John Kleeman HeadshotPosted by John Kleeman

If you are taking an assessment to prove your competence as a machine operator, and you get all the questions right except the health and safety ones, should you pass the assessment? Probably not. Some topics can be more important than others, and assessment results should reflect that fact.

In most assessments, it’s acceptable to define a pass or cut score, and all that is required to pass the assessment is for the participant to achieve the passing score or higher. The logic for this is that success on one item can make up for failure on another item,  so skills in one area are substitutable for skills in another. However, there are other assessments where some skills or knowledge are critical, and here you might want to require a passing score or even a 100% score in the key or “golden” topics as well as a pass score for the test as a whole.

This is easy to set up in Questionmark when you author your assessments. When you create the assessment outcome that defines passing the test, you define some topic prerequisites.

Here is an illustrative example, showing 4 topics. As well as achieving the pass score on the test, the participant must achieve 60% in three topics: “Closing at end of day”, “Operations” and “Starting up”, and 100% in one topic: “Safety”.


If you need to ensure that participants don’t pass a test unless they have achieved scores in certain topics, topic prerequisites are the way to achieve this.

2 Responses to Get trustable results : Require a topic score as a prerequisite to pass a test

  1. John,

    Sharon and I called these “nonsubstitutable items.” An unwieldy term to be sure, but then again we work in the testing field. 🙂 Topic as QM uses it is way more friendly, but potentially confusing as it has traditionally been used to define content subsets– topics. I have no alternative word at the moment though.

  2. Anita says:

    I have tested this out as I have an assessment that has that kind of requirement. We have to be careful with how this is set up in the AM.

    The Assessment Outcome must have the “PASSED” outcome and the pre-requisite set up first. Then set up the “FAILED” outcome but the score must be set range from 0% to 100%. – In that order

    Example if your pass score is 80% or above:
    “PASSED” Outcome = 80%-100%; with pre-requisite = “selected folder for mandatory questions” minimum score of 100%
    “FAILED” Outcome = 0% – 100%

    With the above set up, I was then able to view my end of assessment message with scores and the assessment outcome status label is also correctly labelled (i.e. PASSED/FAILED)

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