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Examinations

Examinations are an important way of establishing whether someone has the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to work in a regulated profession. Exams can therefore be critical in protecting the public's safety and interest.

Introduction

Of the 38 professions (in 35 separate regulatory bodies) that licensed people in 2012:

  • 32 require an applicant to successfully pass an exam.
  • 19 of the 32 require applicants to successfully pass more than one exam. Of the 19:
    • 11 require applicants to successfully pass 2 exams.
    • 4 require applicants to successfully pass 3 exams.
    • 4 require applicants to successfully pass 4 exams.
  • 8 of the 32 also require some applicants (typically from outside Ontario) to successfully complete an eligibility exam first, in addition to the other exam(s). An eligibility exam is typically used to determine the applicant's eligibility or readiness to write the registration/certification/qualifying exam or to meet the requirement of a mutual recognition agreement between the regulator and a regulator in another jurisdiction.

The table below, "Required Exams," lists the regulated professions and their exam requirements.

Issues applicants encounter

Exams are an important tool, but the administration of an exam requirement can create issues for applicants. The OFC advises regulators about issues applicants may encounter, such as the following.

Transparency

  • Exam criteria and options for meeting the requirement are not clear. For example:
    • Applicants may not be aware that the required exam is relevant and necessary for testing whether they have the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to practise a profession, or may not understand why.
    • Applicants may write an exam unnecessarily if they are not aware that they can produce evidence that may exempt them.

Objectivity and Impartiality

  • The measures regulators take (and/or the measures they ensure third-party qualifications assessors take) may not ensure that exams are assessed in a transparent, objective, impartial and fair way. Applicants may see the exams as biased or unfair.

Fairness

  • Exams can be expensive. For example, in 2012, exam fees for Family Physician applicants totalled approximately $5,400, and international medical graduates paid an additional $1,615 for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam (an eligibility exam). For internationally trained veterinary applicants, the 2012 exam fees totalled approximately $9,715.
  • Applicants who are unsuccessful may have limited opportunities to review or appeal the results, or they may not know what next steps (e.g., appeal or review, or options for re-scoring or re-taking the exam) are available to them.
  • Applicants may not be able to take the exam again. For example, applicants to the College of Nurses of Ontario are allowed to take the required exam only three times.
  • Applicants may be misled about opportunities to re-take an exam because of a lack of communication between post-secondary institutions and regulators. For example, a regulator may say that applicants can re-take an exam, but only if they go back to school and re-take the educational program for the profession. But the educational institution may have restrictions that prevent applicants from re-taking a program that they have already successfully completed. 
  • Exams may not be accessible and flexible for all applicants. For example:
    • Applicants may have to wait a long time to complete an exam because it may not be offered very often. Chiropodists, Dental Technologists, Denturists and Opticians offer required exams only once per year.
    • Exams may not offer accommodation for applicants with special needs.

What makes an exam transparent, objective, impartial and fair?

Various regulatory bodies have introduced or changed registration practices about exams to reduce challenges for applicants. Following are some highlights.

Being transparent

  • including information and resources for exam preparation on the regulator's website (such as a self-assessment tool, sample questions, suggested reading, tutoring, exam-orientation sessions, policies, and information about accommodation for special needs)
  • using an exam blueprint (and making it available on the regulator's website) to demonstrate the relationship between the exam questions and the required competencies (the skills and knowledge needed to practise the profession), and reviewing and revising the blueprint as needed
  • providing a comprehensive report about exam results to applicants, to help them identify any gaps in their skills and knowledge
  • providing applicants with information about appealing an exam and with procedures for taking the exam again. In the case of practical exams, this includes inviting all applicants to meet after the exam with a member of the regulatory body to discuss the exam and how to correctly approach it.

Being objective

  • relying on objective measures to consistently determine whether applicants meet the registration criteria (e.g., using multiple-choice questions that can be graded consistently)
  • having content experts and experts in test-validation and test-development create the exam questions
  • ensuring that exams are valid and reliable through consistent and comprehensive reviews
  • taking measures to ensure that third parties' exam administration and assessment are transparent, objective, impartial and fair by:
    • using standardized quality-control methods to ensure that applicants are being tested in an objective way
    • completing a number of reports and studies on the exam to ensure the exam content is valid
    • requiring third-party qualifications assessors to report to the regulator, after each exam, to demonstrate that the exam administration was valid and reliable

Being impartial

  • using marking guides, electronic scoring, or blind assessment to avoid subjectivity
  • establishing training and qualifying procedures to ensure that exam markers produce consistent and objective assessments

Being fair

  • making the exam available online so that applicants can take it outside of Canada
  • offering two different but equivalent exams (to allow for flexibility in fees and scheduling dates)

Required Exams

The following table lists the regulated professions that are currently licensing applicants. For each profession, the table shows the following:

  • the name and type of each exam that an applicant must pass in order to be licensed
  • whether the exam must be written by all applicants
  • the administrator of the exam

The table shows required exams for only the most common class of registration for each profession. Depending on the profession, these common classes of licence are referred to as “general,” ”practising,” ”full,” “independent,” “regular,” professional,” or “autonomous practice” licences.  Many professions offer multiple classes of registration with different requirements, which are not outlined here.

Applicants should consult the appropriate regulatory body for the most up-to-date information about required exams for their profession and class of registration.

Required Exams, by Profession (effective August 31, 2012)

Profession

Name and Type of Exam(s)1

Must be written by all applicants?2

Who administers the exam? 

Architects

Architect Registration Exam (ARE):
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes3

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards

Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC):
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes4

Ontario Association of Architects

Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists

No required exam.

--

--

Chartered Accountants

Uniform Evaluation:
Practical national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

Core-Knowledge Examination:
Ontario eligibility exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

School of Accountancy Examination:
Ontario eligibility exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

Chartered Accountancy Reciprocity Examination:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No5

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

Chiropodists

Registration Exam — Part A:
Ontario exam (combining theory and  jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice) that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Chiropodists of Ontario

Registration Exam — Part B — Objectively Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) & Part C Clinical Evaluation:
Ontario practical exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

The Michener Institute

Chiropractors

Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board (CCEB) Exam Component A & B:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board

CCEB Exam Component C — OSCE:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board

College of Chiropractors of Ontario Legislation and Ethics Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Chiropractors of Ontario

Dental Hygienists

National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

National Dental Hygiene Certification Board

Clinical Competency Evaluation:
Ontario practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No6

College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario

Dental Surgeons

National Dental Examining Board Written Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

National Dental Examining Board of Canada

National Dental Examining Board OSCE:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

National Dental Examining Board of Canada

National Dental Examining Board Equivalency Process:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No7

National Dental Examining Board of Canada

Dental Technologists

Registration Exam — Written Component:
Ontario exam (combining theory and jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice) that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Dental Technologists of Ontario

Registration Exam — Practical Component:
Ontario practical exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Dental Technologists of Ontario

Eligibility Exam:
Ontario eligibility exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

No8
 

College of Dental Technologists of Ontario

Denturists

College of Denturists of Ontario (CDO) Qualifying Exam — written:
Ontario theory-based exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Denturists of Ontario

CDO Qualifying Exam — practical/clinical:
Ontario practical exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Denturists of Ontario

Dietitians

Canadian Dietitic Registration Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Dietitians of Ontario

Early Childhood Educators

No required exam.

--

--

Engineering Technicians and Technologists

Professional Practice Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists

Engineers

Professional Practice Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Professional Engineers Ontario

Foresters

No required exam.

--

--

General Accountants

Professional Applications and CompetencyEvaluations (PA1): Issues in Professional Practice:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Certified General Accountants of Ontario

Professional Applications and Competency Evaluations (PA2): Strategic Financial Management:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Certified General Accountants of Ontario

Geoscientists

Professional Practice Exam:
National jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario

Land Surveyors

Statutes Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Association of Ontario Land Surveyors

Professional Examination:
Theory-based exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Association of Ontario Land Surveyors

Lawyers

The Barrister and Solicitor Exams:
Ontario theory-based exams that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Law Society of Upper Canada

Management Accountants

Case Exam:
Practical national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada)

Board Report:
Practical national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

CMA Canada

Entrance Exam:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

CMA Canada

Massage Therapists

College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) Registration Exam (Multiple Choice Questionnaire):
Ontario theory-based exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Massage Therapists of Ontario

CMTO Registration Exam (OSCE):
Ontario practical exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Massage Therapists of Ontario

Medical Laboratory  Technologists

Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science Medical Laboratory Technology Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science

Medical Radiation
Technologists

Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists Certification Exam
(Applicants write one of the following depending on specialty: Magnetic Resonance, Nuclear Medicine, RadiationTherapy, Radiological Technology):
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

Midwives

The Canadian Midwifery Registration Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Midwifery Regulators Consortium

Nurses

Registered Nurses — The Canadian Registered Nurse Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No9

College of Nurses of Ontario

Registered Practical Nurses — the Canadian Registered Practical Nurse Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No10

College of Nurses of Ontario

Jurisprudence Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario
NOTE: This exam will become a registration requirement on January 1, 2013.

Yes

College of Nurses of Ontario

Occupational Therapists

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Certification Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Opticians

Optical Sciences 1 — Eyeglasses Examination:

National exam (combining theory and practical) that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators

Optical Sciences 2 — Advanced Practice Contact Lens Examination:
National exam (combining theory and practical) that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators

Optometrists

Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry:
National exam (combining theory and practical) that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Examiners in Optometry

Ontario Optometric Jurisprudence Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Optometrists of Ontario

Paralegals

The Paralegal Licensing Exam:
Ontario theory-based exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

The Law Society of Upper Canada

Pharmacists

Pharmacist Qualifying Exam QE-I (Multiple Choice Questions):
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada

Pharmacist Qualifying Exam QE-II (OSCE):
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada

Jurisprudence Exam
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Ontario College of Pharmacists

Pharmacist Evaluating Exam:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No11

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada

Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Exam QE-I (Multiple Choice Questions):
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada

Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Exam QE-II (OSPE): National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada

Jurisprudence Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Ontario College of Pharmacists

Pharmacy Technician Evaluating Exam:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No12

Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC)

Physicians and Surgeons

Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part I:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Medical Council of Canada

Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part II:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Medical Council of Canada

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)  Certification Exam:
Theory-based national exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No13

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) Certification Exam(s):
National exam (combining theory and practical) that can be completed outside of Ontario

No14

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)

Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No15

Medical Council of Canada

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapy Competency Exam — Written Component (Qualifying Examination):
Theory-based exam

Yes

Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators

Physiotherapy Competency Exam — Clinical Component (Physiotherapy National Examination):
Practical exam

Yes

Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators

Psychologists

Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology:
National theory-based exam that can be written outside of Ontario

Yes

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

Oral Examination:
National practical exam that cannot be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Psychologists of Ontario

Jurisprudence and Ethics Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be written outside of Ontario

Yes

College of Psychologists of Ontario

Respiratory Therapists

Canadian Board for Respiratory Care National Certification Exam:
National theory-based exam that can be written outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Board for Respiratory Care

Social Workers

No required exam.

--

--

Social Service Workers

No required exam.

--

--

Teachers

No required exam.

--

--

Veterinarians

North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE):
National theory-based exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's National Examining Board

Clinical Proficiency Examination:
National practical exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No16

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's National Examining Board

Local Knowledge Exam:
Ontario jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

Yes

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario

Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination:
National eligibility exam that can be completed outside of Ontario

No17

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's National Examining Board

1The table identifies an exam's “type” according to these OFC working definitions:

  • theory-based exam: a written test of theoretical knowledge of the principles, processes and competencies (skills and knowledge) required to practise the profession.
  • practical exam: a performance-based test of the practical knowledge and ability to safely and effectively apply the principles, processes and competencies required to practise the profession. 
  • jurisprudence/ethics/professional practice exam: a test of the laws, regulations and standards that relate to the practice of the profession in Ontario.
  • eligibility exam: a test typically used to determine the applicant's eligibility or readiness to write the registration/certification/qualifying exam and/or meet the requirement of a Mutual Recognition Agreement.

2Professions have a variety of approaches to applications from professionals already licensed in another province. Some have a “local knowledge” or jurisprudence exam that such applicants must write. Others offer exemptions if the applicant has written and passed an equivalent exam acceptable to the regulator.

3Applicants complete either ARE or ExAC.
4Applicants complete either ARE or ExAC.
5Only members in good standing of an accounting body outside Canada that has signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the provincial and territorial Chartered Accountant institutes.
6Only applicants who have graduated from a non-accredited dental hygiene program.
7Only graduates of non-accredited programs.
8Only applicants whose education and training covered less than 80% of the competency profile of the Canadian Dental Technicians/Technologists.
9Only Registered Nurse applicants.
10Only Registered Practical Nurse applicants.
11Only applicants who have not completed a program of study accredited by The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs or The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (in the U.S.).
12Only applicants who have not completed a program of study accredited by The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs or who do not meet the minimum qualification requirements through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada.
13Only Family Physician applicants.
14Only applicants to specialty disciplines (that is, all applicants except Family Physician applicants).
15Only international medical graduates, international medical students in their final clinical year, and U.S. osteopaths.
16Only graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools and candidates who require more than two attempts to complete the NAVLE.
17Only graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools.

October 2012

Exemplary Practices

The OFC gathers regulatory bodies' exemplary licensing practices so that they may learn from one another. Exemplary practices about examinations are listed below.

  1. Briefing applicants about expectations and equipment before practical examinations.

    This practice concerns information sessions for candidates...

  2. Ensuring objectivity and impartiality during examinations

    This practice is of interest to regulators that conduct...

  3. Ensuring that examinations conducted by qualifications assessment agencies are objective

    This practice outlines measures to ensure the objectivity...

  4. Giving alternatives to applicants who have failed three exams

    This approach may interest regulators who want to give...