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J Athl Train. 1995 March; 30(1): 59–62.
PMCID: PMC1317830

Performance on the Athletic Training Certification Examination Based on Candidates' Routes to Eligibility

Chad Starkey, PhD, ATC
Chad Starkey is District I Director at NATA Board of Certification, Inc., Athletic Training Curriculum Director at Department of Physical Therapy, Bouvé College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115.


The National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification initiated a task force whose purpose is to evaluate the criteria that determine eligibility for the athletic training certification examination. Candidates may qualify to take the examination through one of two routes: an academic-based curriculum program or the practical education, work-experience-based internship route. The certification examination is comprised of three sections: a written examination, a written simulation, and a practical examination. We retrospectively examined certification examination scores during a 2-year period to determine whether a significant difference existed between the two groups of candidates. Test results for first-time candidates sitting for one of the nine examinations administered during 1992 and 1993 were extracted from the data base maintained by Columbia Assessment Services, Inc (Raleigh, NC) and grouped according to the candidates' route to eligibility. Curriculum candidates had significantly greater scores than did internship candidates on each of the three parts of the examination. Although the test analysis yields strong statistical power in interpreting these results, examination outcomes may also be influenced by the structure and content of the academic program followed, the quality of the clinical experience, the heterogeneity of each of the routes, and the psychosocial rigors of the examination process.

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