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Transforming healthcare assessment with Surpass and the next-generation Assessment Centre


This case study explores how PAEA selected Surpass Assessment to deliver assessments for their physician assistant candidates with a new Assessment Centre designed to enhance the exam experience for students and faculty.
Discover how Surpass is the perfect choice for medical schools looking to deliver tests securely anywhere in the world.

Medical test shown on a laptop and tablet.

About the organisation

PAEA is the only national organisation representing PA educational programmes in the United States. Currently, all accredited programmes in the country are members of the Association. PAEA provides services for faculty at its member programmes, as well as to applicants, students, and other stakeholders.

Organisation type: Educational programmes / healthcare

Number of US states reached: 48

Number of students per year: Approximately 17,000

Number of examinations delivered each year: Approximately 100,000

Aims and key challenges

PAEA works to ensure quality PA education through the development and distribution of educational services and products specifically geared toward meeting the emerging needs of PA programmes, the PA profession, and the healthcare industry.

In order to enhance the exam experience for students and faculty, PAEA needed to create a new online Assessment Centre, and Surpass were well-placed to provide this.

We needed to provide a simple and intuitive user experience for educators and students, so that exams could be securely administered within educational institutions and on a diverse set of student devices, without technical complexity.

Emily Yunker, Director, Assessment and Security Officer, PAEA

The method

Surpass worked with PAEA to deliver technology for the creation, delivery, marking and administration of exams, developing a dedicated hub to support PAEA exams.
In addition to End of Rotation and End of Curriculum exams, Surpass worked with PAEA to deliver the PACKRAT (Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool) – an objective, comprehensive self-assessment tool for student and curricular evaluation.
Surpass had the flexibility to securely deliver high-stakes exams like the In Training Exams (ITEs) in uncontrolled environments such as educational institutions, homes or hospitals – perfect for PAEA’s requirements.

PAEA’s new online Assessment Centre comprised three elements:

  • Assessment Shop – to order exams, generate a quote and view order history
  • Assessment Hub – To add / update student information, schedule exams, review score reports and download data
  • Exam Delivery Platform – a modernized exam admin platform, to deliver the assessments

The solution

Surpass provided PAEA with their market-leading technology for the creation, delivery, marking and administration of exams, developing a dedicated hub to support the scheduling of PAEA exams, integrated with third-party software for exam ordering.

Exam Delivery Platform

PAEA’s system integrated with the standard Surpass Exam Delivery Platform by providing an intuitive interface to transform the exam experience for students and faculty and offer modernised assessment features, allowing for flexibility whilst preserving the validity and security of exams. It also allowed for ease of test publication when updates were needed.

Candidate taking a test on the Surpass Platform via a laptop.

The next-generation Assessment Hub

PAEA Assessment Hub screenshot

The Assessment Hub provided a centralised location for managing candidate information, scheduling exams, and easy-to-use score reports that best served PAEA’s members. It integrated seamlessly with PAEA’s e-commerce and membership database and the Surpass Exam Delivery Platform through a single sign-on process.

The hub also provided candidate results and reporting, alongside statistical data and score reports.

The exam scheduling screen

PAEA Assessment Hub screenshot - scheduling an exam

The exam scheduling functionality allowed PAEA member programmes to schedule exam events on behalf of their students, allowing for the selection of a variety of delivery types, time-based accommodations, and flexibility in time zones while students were on clinical rotation across the country.

It’s user-friendly, there’s a lot of features that you’re comfortable with… What I noticed was the ease of scheduling and the ease of setting time accommodations for all the different diverse students that we have.

Michelle McWeeney, PhD, PA-C, Seton Hall University

The program performance reports interface

PAEA Assessment Hub screenshot - program performance reports

PAEA’s exams are part of programmes’ curricula, and the objectives of each exam programme differed. Thus, they created a report-based scoring system that provided programmes with the aggregate and comparative data needed to make informed decisions on the progression of their students and meet institutional and national standards, to complement individual results.


As a result of this project, PAEA were able to deliver a Next-Generation assessment centre and transformed the exam experience for students and faculty by offering modernised assessments.

To see glimpses of the Assessment Centre for yourself, visit the PAEA website Assessment Center Resources | PAEA (

Watch more

Hear first-hand from Emily Yunker at PAEA on how they’ve used Surpass to create secure exams for their candidates.

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