Is the PCE Reliable?


For exams, reliability means consistency and repeatability from one exam administration to the next and from one examiner to the next.

How do we measure reliability?

We use several statistical approaches but the most well-known is the Cronbach Alpha which describes the extent to which all the items in a test measure the same concept – in our case, the practice of physiotherapy.  It is expressed as a number between 0 and 1.

Is our PCE reliable? Yes.

The number of questions on a test affects reliability scores. The average Alpha score for our 200-question written exam is 0.882 and for the 16-station clinical exam is 0.6721. Both scores are considered very good.

How do we achieve reliability?

  • Standardized examiner training
  • Standardized training of patient actors
  • Identical test and answer sheets
  • Centralized scoring
  • Centralized decision-making regarding safety and professional incidents


  1. 2017 PCE data: Average Cronbach Alpha for WC & CC total score criterion