Re: Test Passing Standards - What is it?
Alternatively, all of the above...
With the best will in the world, all aikido tests are subjective as the people doing the grading are going to have their own ideas about what constitutes a pass. You can use panels of judges to minimise the impact of this, but all you need do is look at the Olympics to see how hard it is to get objectivity on something relatively nebulous and non-competitive as most aikido gradings (or are shodo-thugs put in a pit to fight it out Peter?).
Most gradings I know of are set so that grade x = this level of competency in range y of aikido. Special circumstances (e.g. permanent disabilities or illnesses) may affect the range of y, but, at least to my mind, "student improvement" would still merit a fail if a certain level of competency was not met, but may factor if the tester was right on the borderline.