PAEA's exams are designed using a content blueprint and topic list originally developed by PAEA's Assessment Council, a group of PA educators from around the United States. The blueprint for each End of Rotation™ exam focuses on assessing the knowledge gained in the relevant supervised clinical practice experience, while the PACKRAT® and End of Curriculum™ exams focus on broad clinical knowledge. Each blueprint indicates the specific systems and tasks, and the item distributions deemed appropriate to the exam. The topic lists then indicate a sampling of the key disease processes that fall into each content area. Not all topics will appear on every exam, nor is the full detail of the included topics indicated on the topic list. Subject matter experts who write the questions strive to limit obscure diagnoses, determining whether the content is appropriate for students at the relevant stage of their education.
The Assessment Council reviewed and considered the NCCPA PANCE blueprint when building the PAEA blueprints, and conducted a broader peer review in the case of the End of Curriculum exam. However, the PAEA exam blueprints are not strictly modeled on the NCCPA PANCE blueprint as they reflect educational standards, not practice standards. PAEA has not followed NCCPA's lead to include professionalism questions, as ours are medical knowledge exams intended to complement program-level assessments in other areas.
The blueprints and topic lists are updated periodically to reflect changes in terminology and medical knowledge, and are reviewed and validated to ensure that they reflect the current standard of PA education. The publication date always appears on the bottom of the document. Faculty will be notified about substantive changes well in advance. That will help them to prepare any updates to objective and curriculum mapping, and to update students for what to study.