OEBC Enhances Its Entry-to-Practice Exam

December 22, 2021

To ensure its entry-to-practice examination represents the essential elements for safe and effective patient care and health care in Canada, OEBC is pleased to announce the following enhancements to its exam for Spring 2022.

New Blueprint

The foundation for the OEBC exam is a competency model that reflects the overall knowledge, skills and behaviours required to practice as an optometrist. The exam components drawn from the question/item bank evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to optometry practice at the entry-to-practice level. A new Blueprint was approved on December 13th.

The OEBC Exam Blueprint:

  • outlines the exam structure—cases selected per domain and practice area
  • outlines the topic areas
  • provides performance indicators for the enabling competencies at the entry-to-practice level
  • informs candidates about what the exam could test and the weighting of each area
  • guides OEBC in designing consistency in exams
  • gives all candidates equal opportunity to prepare for the exam and show whether they have the competencies necessary to practice optometry safely and effectively

OEBC appreciates the generous support from the College of Optometrists of Ontario regarding the new competency model. In addition, the new Blueprint and the enhancements below were only possible through the support of its dedicated team of volunteer optometrists.

Integrated Skills Testing

Introducing three new integrated skills assessment stations which require candidates to explain the testing procedure, demonstrate the skills, take measurements and then provide a treatment plan based on a standard set of clinical data. The skills measured relate to tonometry, gonioscopy, retinoscopy, and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy (BIO).  Thus, all 12 stations of the objective structure clinical evaluation (OSCE) components now have a standardized patient as part of an authentic clinical scenario.

Patient Interaction Scale

Optometrists make sound decisions to help their patients based on the evidence and exhibit professionalism in all patient encounters. They engage the patient, establish a rapport, and create an atmosphere where the patient feels comfortable expressing their concerns and posing questions. In addition, optometrists must be sensitive to a diverse patient population, respect patient autonomy in decision making, and adapt assessment and care appropriately.

OEBC’s new patient interaction measures a candidate’s interpersonal, professional and organizational skills in eight areas: empathy, coherence, verbal communication, non-verbal communication, trust, honesty & integrity, focus on the patient and respect. Examiners will assess the quality of patient interaction at every station in the OSCE. The scoring rubric for the new scale is published in Appendix B of the Blueprint.

Standard Setting

Optometrists develop the content for OEBC exam components, and psychometricians ensure that each test item and process meet psychometric standards. With the introduction of Integrated Skills assessments, where an examiner is present at every OSCE station, OEBC will now use borderline regression, which is a standard-setting methodology well-suited for dynamic assessments such as OSCEs to determine the passing score. In addition, OEBC continues to utilize the widely adopted Modified Angoff method when determining passing scores for the written exams.

Candidate Study Guide

OEBC’s candidate study guide has been updated to reflect the above changes. The French version will be published in January.

Clinical Exam Returning to Montreal

OEBC is pleased to be offering two Spring administrations. After a six-year absence, we are returning to École d’optométrie de l’ Université de Montréal on May 7th. The OSCE is being provided at Waterloo on April 24th. OEBC returned to the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry & Vision Science (WOVS) for its 2021 administration of the OSCE. WOVS provided excellent support to meet public health protocols to administer two OSCEs during the pandemic successfully.

The written component of the OEBC exam is offered on April 7th via Remote Proctoring. It is a case-based, computer-delivered exam. In addition, the written exam now includes cases using high-resolution images of eye-related issues.

Registration opens on January 3, 2022.

Enhanced Reports

Stakeholders have been looking for additional feedback regarding candidate performance on OEBC’s exams. Every scoring item on the exam is being mapped to the new Blueprint to provide enriched detail to unsuccessful candidates and optometry schools. During the Winter, OEBC will be reaching out to stakeholders regarding the report templates. The results for the Spring 2022 administration will be shared on the new templates.

About the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC)

Founded in 1995, the Optometry Examining Board of Canada develops and administers a common national examination on behalf of the provincial optometric regulatory bodies — its members.  The organization delivers a psychometrically valid and defensible assessment to demonstrate entry-to-practice competence in optometry in Canada. Its bilingual examinations are developed and administrated by the profession and for the profession.