• education;
  • medical;
  • undergraduate/*standards;
  • anatomy/*education;
  • educational measurement;
  • students;
  • medical/*standards;
  • curriculum;
  • Netherlands

Introduction  Comparisons of anatomy knowledge levels of students from various curricula show either no differences or small differences to the detriment of innovative schools. To pass judgement on the general level of students' anatomy knowledge, we need an absolute standard. The purpose of this study was to compare students' levels of anatomy knowledge as measured by a case-based anatomy test with standards set by different groups of experts.

Methods  A modified Angoff procedure was used to establish an absolute standard against which the students' results could be evaluated. Four panels of 9 anatomists, 7 clinicians, 9 recent graduates and 9 Year 4 students, respectively, judged 107 items of an anatomy test. The students' results on these items were compared with the standards obtained by the panels.

Results  If the standard established by the panel of Year 4 students was used, 64% of the students would fail the test. The standards established by the anatomists, clinicians and recent graduates would yield failure rates of 42%, 58% and 26%, respectively.

Conclusion  According to the panels' standards, many students did not know enough about anatomy. The high expectations that the Year 4 students appeared to have of their peers may contribute to students' uncertainty about their level of anatomy knowledge.