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2021 Clinical Component FAQs

CAPR is committed to addressing all candidate concerns regarding the 2021 Clinical Component. Please check this page regularly for updates.


Q. In the absence of in-person interaction, will candidates be expected to come up with new methods of assessing or treating conditions?

Candidates will not be presented with any scenarios that are impossible to address in the virtual environment and, therefore, are not expected to come up with new methods of assessment. In the virtual environment, candidates will not be asked to perform formal outcome measures, special tests, standardized assessments or treatment techniques that require physical contact between a physiotherapist and a client. However, candidates are expected to demonstrate their competence and clinical reasoning skills by knowing why and when to use these skills, describing how to perform them, and interpreting and acting on the results or outcomes.   Added February 12, 2021 


Q. Are candidates taking the Clinical Component in the virtual environment at a disadvantage compared to candidates who take the in-person exam?

There is currently no evidence that candidates will be at a disadvantage because they are taking the Clinical Component virtually. After each administration of the 2021 virtual Clinical Component, CAPR will be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the exam delivery, including the experiences of candidates, examiners and key stakeholders. The evaluation will also include a detailed psychometric analysis of candidate performance in each station and on the exam as a whole. Such an analysis is required to assess the reliability, validity, and fairness of the virtual exam, just as it is for the traditional in-person format. If the psychometric analysis determines that any exam content was inappropriate (e.g., too difficult for candidates to perform in a the virtual medium) or unfair (e.g., if examiners were unable to assess something in a station), it will not be counted towards candidate scores.  Added February 12, 2021 


Q. Why are candidates given only three chances to pass the clinical exam?

Research has shown that providing candidates with two attempts to pass a competency-based exam achieves the optimal balance between fairness to candidates and protection of the public. Allowing additional attempts disproportionately advantages candidates who are not competent by increasing the likelihood that they will eventually be misclassified as competent. CAPR, and many other licencing bodies, allow candidates three attempts to pass the exam, rather than the recommended two.
Added February 12, 2021 


Q. Why has a virtual Clinical Component been chosen over a “touchless” Clinical Component?

A. CAPR has committed to deliver a Clinical Component that cannot be derailed by the continuing pandemic. A ‘virtual’ exam, hosted in an online environment, is the only way we can guarantee safe and stable delivery of and equitable access to the Clinical Component in 2021.

An in-person but “touchless” Clinical Component would rely on the availability of exam facilities and the loosening of restrictions on gatherings in some jurisdictions. It would also require examiners and standardized patients/clients, as well as participants, to subject themselves to in-person interactions and, in many cases, require participants to travel across municipal, provincial and national borders to access the exam.


Q. Will the virtual Clinical Component require proctoring through online services, or will candidates be required to attend a testing facility.

A. The virtual Clinical Component will be monitored by live remote proctoring services. You will not be required to attend a physical testing centre.


Q. How will the virtual Clinical Component be structured?

A. The 2021 Clinical Component will:

  • be comprised of 12 clinical stations (down from 16 stations in 2020);
  • be built to satisfy the exam blueprint;
  • assess physiotherapy knowledge, clinical reasoning, safe and professional behaviour and communication skills at an entry-to-practice level;
  • not include any written elements (the 5+5-minute couplet stations have been eliminated from the exam).

Q. How will a virtual Clinical Component, with no element of touch, work?

A. The exam will be an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE), just as it was before. In each of the 12 clinical stations, candidates will engage with a standardized patient while being observed by an examiner. Candidates will be assessed on their physiotherapy knowledge, professionalism and clinical reasoning and communication skills.


Q. How will the Clinical Component assess physiotherapy competency in the absence of touch?

A. The Clinical Component is intended to assess a candidate’s ability to safely and effectively apply the principles and processes of physiotherapy and to demonstrate communication skills and professional behaviour at an entry-to-practice level. Through our consultations with physiotherapy educators and regulators, we have confirmed that this can be achieved without touch. The 2021 Clinical Component will focus on the application of clinical skills and knowledge at the top level (“Does”) of Miller’s pyramid (see Figure 1, below) and on the higher-order cognitive functions from Bloom’s taxonomy (see Figure 2, below).

Figure 1: Miller’s Pyramid


Figure 2: Bloom’s Taxonomy


Q. What is the passing criteria for the 2021 virtual Clinical Component?

A. The 2021 Clinical Component will have two passing criteria:

  1. The Total Score criterion: candidates must achieve a pre-determined total score across the 12 stations to pass the exam;
  2. The Critical Incidents Criterion: candidates must demonstrate safe, professional practice across all 12 stations.

Q. What is the Number of Stations criterion and why is it not being used for the 2021 Clinical Component?

A. To pass the former, 16-station Clinical Component, candidates had to pass a predetermined number of exam stations, known as the Number of Stations criterion, in addition to achieving an overall exam score that meets or exceeds a minimum total score (known as the Total Score criterion), and demonstrating safe and professional actions and behaviours (known as the Critical Incidents criterion). For the 2021 Clinical Component, the Number of Stations criterion will not be used because it has been determined that using this criterion for a 12-station exam does not yield optimal reliability.


Q. What are the confirmed Clinical Component dates for 2021?

A. Confirmed dates for the Clinical Component are:

  • March 20 (Saturday) and 21 (Sunday), 2021
  • June 5 (Saturday) and 6 (Sunday), 2021
  • August 28 (Saturday) and 29 (Sunday), 2021
  • November 13 (Saturday) and 14 (Sunday), 2021

Q. How can I continue to study?

A. You can continue to study as if you were preparing for the 2020 version of the Clinical Component. CAPR is changing the method of exam delivery (i.e., virtual instead of in-person), but the physiotherapy knowledge covered by the exam remains largely unchanged. You can continue to use CAPR’s PCE Key Reference List, Clinical Component Practice Questions, and PCE Blueprint to direct your studying.

Q. How will CAPR prepare candidates for success in the virtual environment?

A. CAPR recognizes that a robust orientation program will be a key to candidate success in the online environment. We are committed to ensuring that candidate anxiety about the new method of delivery does not impact their performance on the 2021 Clinical Component.

As early as January 2021, CAPR will begin delivering a comprehensive orientation program. This program will include written resources, live and recorded webinars, town hall forums and the opportunity to test out the virtual exam environment.


Q. Does taking the Clinical Component virtually in 2021 count as an official attempt to pass the exam?

A. Yes. Although the 2021 version of the Clinical Component will be delivered virtually, CAPR has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the exam will remain a valid method of assessing physiotherapy competency at an entry-to-practice level. One of CAPR’s guiding principles in adapting the Clinical Component has been to ensure that the virtual Clinical Component is as similar to the in-person exam as possible. This ensures that candidates who have previously attempted the in-person Clinical Component will not experience a completely different exam in their second or third attempt.

Additionally, because the virtual delivery method is new for all candidates—whether they are on their first attempt or their third—CAPR will deliver substantial orientation resources, including clear guidance about how their skills will be assessed in a virtual environment and how to interact with the new exam delivery software.


Q. Why is the cohort for the March 2021 administration smaller than for subsequent administrations? How does this support CAPR’s goal of clearing the backlog of candidates who are waiting to take the Clinical Component?

A. CAPR is committed to ensuring that the first administration of the new virtual exam runs smoothly for candidates. We believe we can reduce the risk of logistical issues by reducing the logistical complexity of the first administration. Based on our projections, we can take this conservative approach to the initial administration in the best interest of participants and still achieve our goal of accommodating the 2020 and 2021 cohorts of candidates by the end of 2021.


Q. Does it cost less to run the Clinical Component virtually than in-person?

A. No. Most of the costs involved in running the Clinical Component, including station development/ modification, psychometric services, and Standardized Client and Examiner recruitment, training and compensation, are the same for a virtual exam and an in-person exam. While CAPR will not be renting physical exam sites, contracting on-site staff, or paying for catering this year, the cost of the software licences and remote proctoring services required to run the virtual exam more than replaces these costs. The fee for the exam will remain as posted on our website here.

Q. Will candidates be prioritized on a first-come first-served basis?

A. For the most part, candidates will be prioritized based on the date their application was received and for which 2020 administration they were registered. However, CAPR is aware of candidates who have been disproportionately impacted by the cancellation of the Clinical Component in 2020 (e.g., candidates who, due to licensing restrictions in their jurisdiction, can work neither as a physiotherapist nor as a physiotherapy resident until successfully passing the Clinical Component). Provincial/territorial regulators have advised CAPR of candidates who should be prioritized due to such regulatory considerations.

Q. Is any new content being developed for the 2021 Clinical Component?

A. All administrations of the 2021 Clinical Component will be comprised of stations developed by the CAPR Clinical Test Development Group (CTDG)—which is composed of volunteer, subject matter expert physiotherapists from across Canada—for use on the in-person Clinical Component. In some cases, minor modifications will be made to stations to ensure their suitability for the virtual environment. Adaptations will be made while preserving the validity of the station as established by the CTDG.


Q. How will CAPR ensure that all candidates have access to information and resources regarding the 2021 Clinical Component?

A. CAPR will contact all registered candidates by email every time a new resource or orientation session is available. Please add as a trusted source in your email account, and alert CAPR if your email contact information changes.
CAPR will also always share all such updates on our website and social media to ensure we connect with all registered candidates. We are committed to ensuring that all candidates receive ample and equal orientation to the new delivery method.


Q. When will orientation materials be provided to candidates?

A. In the upcoming weeks and months, CAPR will continue to provide updates regarding the structure, content and delivery of the 2021 Clinical Component. This will include a comprehensive orientation program, comprising written resources, live and recorded webinars and townhall forums. All orientation materials will be shared through email and on our website and social media.

Q. How will the candidate be assessed by the Examiner in a virtual setting?

A. The Examiner will observe and assess all the candidate’s interactions with the Standardized Clients just as they would in an in-person setting. The Examiner may engage with the candidates when appropriate just as they would in an in-person setting. As part of the orientation program, CAPR will provide candidates with clear direction about how to demonstrate their skills in the virtual environment.


Q. When will candidates have confirmation of which administration they will be assigned to?

A. CAPR will contact candidates about their Clinical Component administration date in December 2020. All candidates will be contacted by email with this information.


Q. Will every station include a live Standardized Client or will some stations use images or video?

A. All stations will include a live Standardized Client. Candidates will not be asked to comment on images or video.


Q. Will the Clinical Component be available in French as well?

A. Yes.