NPPE Exam Blog

How many questions do you need to answer correctly to pass the NPPE exam?

There is no precise answer to this question for two reasons:

  1. The exam consists of 110 questions, 100 of which are marked and will make up your operational score while 10 are included only to test them for future use and will not contribute to your operational score. There is no way an exam taker can differentiate these 10 questions from the other 100.
  2. The exam is curved.

Nevertheless, some clues can logically be inferred.

The NPPE Candidate Guide on pages 12 and 13 says literally: “The cut score on the NPPE is a scaled score of 65 and determined using a best practice Standard Setting approach (i.e., the Modified-Angoff Method) where Subject Matter Experts from across Canada participate in setting the minimum standard required (i.e., minimum level of knowledge) for candidates to be able to demonstrate on the exam in order to pass. The scale score of 65 is NOT equivalent to a percent score of 65 (i.e., correctly answered 65% of the questions) due to the statistical equating method we implemented to ensure variations in exam difficulty from each session are taken into account to ensure fairness to all applicants taking an exam.”

It is important to distinguish the terms used above:

  • The operational score or percent score is the number of correctly answered questions out of the 100 valid questions. This can only be known to the examiners.
  • The scale score is the operational score expressed in terms of the scale of the curve. You need a scale score of 65 to pass the exam. This can only be known to the examiners.
  • Raw percent score is the number of questions (valid and test questions) correctly answered expressed as a percentage of the 110 questions of the exam. This can somehow be estimated by the exam takers.

Now, to get a raw percent score of 65%, you need to answer correctly 72 questions (i.e., 65% of 110). However, this translates into an operational score of 65% only if you answered correctly 65% of the 10 tested questions. In the worst-case scenario (i.e., when you answered correctly the 10 tested questions that do not contribute to your score), then you need to answer 75 questions to guarantee an operational score of 65%.

This operational score of 65% still does not guarantee a scale score of 65% needed to pass the exam. In some instances, you may need an operational score of less than 65% and in others more than 65%. Since there is no published historical data, it is impossible to estimate how far above or below the operational score is with respect to the scale score.

The conclusion would be that you need to answer correctly at least 75 out of the 110 questions to guarantee an operational score of 65% and expect that the operational score is above the scale score to get a scale score of 65 or better to pass the exam. If you consider a 5% margin to allow for this uncertainty, you need to answer correctly 79 questions that you can probably round off to 80. This means that you can afford to fail 30 out of the 110 questions.