The VEA is a 240-item web-based multiple-choice examination covering basic veterinary medical sciences. The five main content areas are anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, and pathology. This examination was previously known as the Qualifying Examination (QE).
The VEA offers veterinary schools a comprehensive, standardized, independent assessment of knowledge in basic veterinary medical sciences. It allows schools to track the performance of their students in the above content areas over time, and to compare the performance of their students to that of students from other veterinary schools.
A study conducted in 2011 to determine the relationship among several common measures, prior to and during veterinary school, revealed that the VEA was the strongest predictor of how a student would perform on the NAVLE. The VEA tests students on knowledge that is foundational to the clinical practice. If students have a strong understanding of these content areas, there is a high probability that they will score well on the NAVLE. Educators can utilize the results from the VEA to make cirriculum changes that improve student's knowledge in the basic sciences.
Items in the VEA item bank are written by basic science faculty members and other content experts. To date, a total of 75 items writers have submitted items, representing 29 veterinary schools in North America.
The VEA is administered by the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA), in cooperation with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). The same two organizations are responsible for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). The VEA is developed using the same procedures and standards as the NAVLE.
Candidates access the examination by logging into a secure web site, and the test administration is supervised by proctors. The examination may be given using school or student computers that meet the technical requirements for delivery of the web-based examination, and can be done as a group on-campus or individually if students are off-campus. The VEA is delivered in two blocks of 120 items in 132 minutes, with an optional break of up to 45 minutes between the two blocks. This includes both 200 scored items and 40 pretest items being considered for use in future VEA testing cycles.
The ICVA will charge a per-candidate fee of $60, payable by the school. Schools may decide whether to pass this fee on to their students.
To give faculty a better understanding of the test, each school is able to have up to two faculty members take the test, at no charge, during any of the testing windows. Schools are under no obligation to purchase the test after the faculty review. However, schools that intend to administer the VEA to their students may choose to have these faculty members reviewing at the same time as their student administration, or at a testing window prior to that of their students.