Practical Examination Appeals

Appeals of practical (i.e., OSCE) examination results are always challenging. Invariably there are disputes as to the candidate’s right of access to examination materials and criteria for grading. The examination body must be fair, but also needs to preserve the integrity of the examination (which is expensive to develop) for future candidates. In addition, the procedural fairness requirements may be challenging to articulate as, at the end of the day, the decision is based on expert professional judgment.

While the brief reasons in Alizadeh v National Dental Examining Board of Canada, 2017 ONSC 3947 leave one wishing for more, they are still helpful. The Divisional Court indicated the following:

  • Courts will show deference to the standards, established by the expert examination organization, for passing the examination.
  • Courts will also show deference to the appeals process developed by the organization and held that:
    • At least where credibility is not an issue, a paper hearing is fine; and
    • Providing access to the examination materials with restrictions is sufficient. (Unfortunately, the restrictions in this case were not identified.)
  • Reasons for the decision on appeal must be given, but they can be brief.

In this case, the Court found that “there is no basis for this Court to interfere with the clinical evaluation”.

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