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The aim of this study was to determine whether large variations in the pass rates of different versions of the Taiwanese tour guides' English test were due to inherent differences in the difficulty of the tests. Rasch analysis software was used to measure the difficulty of all items on the 2009 and 2013 versions. It was found that the ability levels corresponding to passing scores of 48, 49 and 50 (out of 80) on the 2009 test were below that required to pass the 2103 test and that it wasdoi:10.1186/s40468-014-0007-8 fatcat:f2cu7uzhh5fqrjegvluyaqdimu