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Logo of bmcmeduBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Medical Education
BMC Med Educ. 2009; 9: 24.
Published online 2009 May 19. doi:  10.1186/1472-6920-9-24
PMCID: PMC2689211

An intercalated BSc degree is associated with higher marks in subsequent medical school examinations



To compare medical students on a modern MBChB programme who did an optional intercalated degree with their peers who did not intercalate; in particular, to monitor performance in subsequent undergraduate degree exams.


This was a retrospective, observational study of anonymised databases of medical student assessment outcomes. Data were accessed for graduates, University of Aberdeen Medical School, Scotland, UK, from the years 2003 to 2007 (n = 861). The main outcome measure was marks for summative degree assessments taken after intercalating.


Of 861 medical students, 154 (17.9%) students did an intercalated degree. After adjustment for cohort, maturity, gender and baseline (3rd year) performance in matching exam type, having done an IC degree was significantly associated with attaining high (18–20) common assessment scale (CAS) marks in three of the six degree assessments occurring after the IC students rejoined the course: the 4th year written exam (p < 0.001), 4th year OSCE (p = 0.001) and the 5th year Elective project (p = 0.010).


Intercalating was associated with improved performance in Years 4 and 5 of the MBChB. This improved performance will further contribute to higher academic ranking for Foundation Year posts. Long-term follow-up is required to identify if doing an optional intercalated degree as part of a modern medical degree is associated with following a career in academic medicine.

Articles from BMC Medical Education are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central