Re: Test Passing Standards - What is it?
First Caveat: It all depends on your style, organization, dojo and sensei.
For us, Sensei expects to not only see a mere demonstration of the technique at each level but some manner of competency and that level of competency is raised at each rank.
I don't think testing is meaniless, it gives an instructor a tool to gage his or her students abilities. I believe going through the test itself is just as importance and the time you put in over time. My shodan test was only, max, 10 minutes, but the mental and physical preparation that took me to get there, to be ready and to be to "show my stuff" in 10 mintues, occurred over a period of months.
At the kyu levels my instructor looks for:
5th kyu - demonstrate basic competency, e.g. that you know how to do the technique that is called for. Sensei should not have to remind you what the techinque is. Various errors are allowed, but not knowing the technique is not. I have seen people failed that this level. Mainly, they just blanked and Sensei gave them a re-test a couple of months later.
4th kyu - the above plus you start demonstrating more confidence in your movement.
3rd kyu - the above plus you start demonstrating more dynamic movement and stronger technique
2nd kyu - the above plus your technique begins to demonstrate power and intensity
1st kyu - you demonstrate all of the above plus knowledge of all the basics. This will be your longest test and sensei puts you through the paces to make sure you know your techniques from all your attacks. This is the time in which your must prove that you know all your basics - all techniques from all attacks.
Shodan - It's the same as first kyu but you only have short period of time to demonstrate what you know and you don't know what is being called so you have to be prepared for everything. Shodan is time to "celebrate" what you have learned rather than prove what you have learned. That latter is for 1st kyu.
Given all that, disabilites and ailments will be taken into account. If you have bad knees you will not have to do suwari waza, etc.