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1.  Admission selection criteria as predictors of outcomes in an undergraduate medical course: A prospective study 
Medical Teacher  2011;33(12):997-1004.
Background
In 1998, a new selection process which utilised an aptitude test and an interview in addition to previous academic achievement was introduced into an Australian undergraduate medical course.
Aims
To test the outcomes of the selection criteria over an 11-year period.
Methods
1174 students who entered the course from secondary school and who enrolled in the MBBS from 1999 through 2009 were studied in relation to specific course outcomes. Regression analyses using entry scores, sex and age as independent variables were tested for their relative value in predicting subsequent academic performance in the 6-year course. The main outcome measures were assessed by weighted average mark for each academic year level; together with results in specific units, defined as either ‘knowledge'-based or ‘clinically’ based.
Results
Previous academic performance and female sex were the major independent positive predictors of performance in the course. The interview score showed positive predictive power during the latter years of the course and in a range of ‘clinically' based units. This relationship was mediated predominantly by the score for communication skills.
Conclusions
Results support combining prior academic achievement with the assessment of communication skills in a structured interview as selection criteria into this undergraduate medical course.
doi:10.3109/0142159X.2011.577123
PMCID: PMC3267525  PMID: 21592024
2.  Same admissions tools, different outcomes: a critical perspective on predictive validity in three undergraduate medical schools 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:173.
Background
Admission to medical school is one of the most highly competitive entry points in higher education. Considerable investment is made by universities to develop selection processes that aim to identify the most appropriate candidates for their medical programs. This paper explores data from three undergraduate medical schools to offer a critical perspective of predictive validity in medical admissions.
Methods
This study examined 650 undergraduate medical students from three Australian universities as they progressed through the initial years of medical school (accounting for approximately 25 per cent of all commencing undergraduate medical students in Australia in 2006 and 2007). Admissions criteria (aptitude test score based on UMAT, school result and interview score) were correlated with GPA over four years of study. Standard regression of each of the three admissions variables on GPA, for each institution at each year level was also conducted.
Results
Overall, the data found positive correlations between performance in medical school, school achievement and UMAT, but not interview. However, there were substantial differences between schools, across year levels, and within sections of UMAT exposed. Despite this, each admission variable was shown to add towards explaining course performance, net of other variables.
Conclusion
The findings suggest the strength of multiple admissions tools in predicting outcomes of medical students. However, they also highlight the large differences in outcomes achieved by different schools, thus emphasising the pitfalls of generalising results from predictive validity studies without recognising the diverse ways in which they are designed and the variation in the institutional contexts in which they are administered. The assumption that high-positive correlations are desirable (or even expected) in these studies is also problematised.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-173
PMCID: PMC3880586  PMID: 24373207
Selection; Predictive validity; Admissions policy
3.  Predicting academic outcomes in an Australian graduate entry medical programme 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:31.
Background
Predictive validity studies for selection criteria into graduate entry courses in Australia have been inconsistent in their outcomes. One of the reasons for this inconsistency may have been failure to have adequately considered background disciplines of the graduates as well as other potential confounding socio-demographic variables that may influence academic performance.
Methods
Graduate entrants into the MBBS at The University of Western Australia between 2005 and 2012 were studied (N = 421). They undertook a 6-month bridging course, before joining the undergraduate-entry students for Years 3 through 6 of the medical course. Students were selected using their undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test scores (GAMSAT) and a score from a standardised interview. Students could apply from any background discipline and could also be selected through an alternative rural entry pathway again utilising these 3 entry scores. Entry scores, together with age, gender, discipline background, rural entry status and a socioeconomic indicator were entered into linear regression models to determine the relative influence of each predictor on subsequent academic performance in the course.
Results
Background discipline, age, gender and selection through the rural pathway were variously related to each of the 3 entry criteria. Their subsequent inclusion in linear regression models identified GPA at entry, being from a health/allied health background and total GAMSAT score as consistent independent predictors of stronger academic performance as measured by the weighted average mark for the core units completed throughout the course. The Interview score only weakly predicted performance later in the course and mainly in clinically-based units. The association of total GAMSAT score with academic performance was predominantly dictated by the score in GAMSAT Section 3 (Reasoning in the biological and physical sciences) with Section 1 (Reasoning in the humanities and social sciences) and Section 2 (Written communication) also contributing either later or early in the course respectively. Being from a more disadvantaged socioeconomic background predicted weaker academic performance early in the course. Being an older student at entry or from a humanities background also predicted weaker academic performance.
Conclusions
This study confirms that both GPA at entry and the GAMSAT score together predict outcomes not only in the early stages of a graduate-entry medical programme but throughout the course. It also indicates that a comprehensive evaluation of the predictive validity of GAMSAT scores, interview scores and undergraduate academic performance as valid selection processes for graduate entry into medical school needs to simultaneously consider the potential confounding influence of graduate discipline background and other socio-demographic factors on both the initial selection parameters themselves as well as subsequent academic performance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-31
PMCID: PMC3931285  PMID: 24528509
4.  The Academic Backbone: longitudinal continuities in educational achievement from secondary school and medical school to MRCP(UK) and the specialist register in UK medical students and doctors 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:242.
Background
Selection of medical students in the UK is still largely based on prior academic achievement, although doubts have been expressed as to whether performance in earlier life is predictive of outcomes later in medical school or post-graduate education. This study analyses data from five longitudinal studies of UK medical students and doctors from the early 1970s until the early 2000s. Two of the studies used the AH5, a group test of general intelligence (that is, intellectual aptitude). Sex and ethnic differences were also analyzed in light of the changing demographics of medical students over the past decades.
Methods
Data from five cohort studies were available: the Westminster Study (began clinical studies from 1975 to 1982), the 1980, 1985, and 1990 cohort studies (entered medical school in 1981, 1986, and 1991), and the University College London Medical School (UCLMS) Cohort Study (entered clinical studies in 2005 and 2006). Different studies had different outcome measures, but most had performance on basic medical sciences and clinical examinations at medical school, performance in Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP(UK)) examinations, and being on the General Medical Council Specialist Register.
Results
Correlation matrices and path analyses are presented. There were robust correlations across different years at medical school, and medical school performance also predicted MRCP(UK) performance and being on the GMC Specialist Register. A-levels correlated somewhat less with undergraduate and post-graduate performance, but there was restriction of range in entrants. General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)/O-level results also predicted undergraduate and post-graduate outcomes, but less so than did A-level results, but there may be incremental validity for clinical and post-graduate performance. The AH5 had some significant correlations with outcome, but they were inconsistent. Sex and ethnicity also had predictive effects on measures of educational attainment, undergraduate, and post-graduate performance. Women performed better in assessments but were less likely to be on the Specialist Register. Non-white participants generally underperformed in undergraduate and post-graduate assessments, but were equally likely to be on the Specialist Register. There was a suggestion of smaller ethnicity effects in earlier studies.
Conclusions
The existence of the Academic Backbone concept is strongly supported, with attainment at secondary school predicting performance in undergraduate and post-graduate medical assessments, and the effects spanning many years. The Academic Backbone is conceptualized in terms of the development of more sophisticated underlying structures of knowledge ('cognitive capital’ and 'medical capital’). The Academic Backbone provides strong support for using measures of educational attainment, particularly A-levels, in student selection.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-242
PMCID: PMC3827330  PMID: 24229333
Academic Backbone; Secondary school attainment; Undergraduate medical education; Post-graduate medical education; Longitudinal analyses; Continuities; Medical student selection; Cognitive capital; Medical capital; Aptitude tests
5.  Predictive validity of a new integrated selection process for medical school admission 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:86.
Background
This paper is an evaluation of an integrated selection process utilising previous academic achievement [Universities Admission Index (UAI)], a skills test [Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT)], and a structured interview, introduced (in its entirety) in 2004 as part of curriculum reform of the undergraduate Medicine Program at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. Demographic measures of gender, country of birth, educational background and rurality are considered.
Method
Admission scores and program outcomes of 318 students enrolled in 2004 and 2005 were studied. Regression analyses were undertaken to determine whether selection scores predicted overall, knowledge-based and clinical-based learning outcomes after controlling for demographics.
Results
UAI attained the highest values in predicting overall and knowledge-based outcomes. The communication dimension of the interview achieved similar predictive values as UAI for clinical-based outcomes, although predictive values were relatively low. The UMAT did not predict any performance outcome. Female gender, European/European-derived country of birth and non-rurality were significant predictors independent of UAI scores.
Conclusion
Results indicate promising validity for an integrated selection process introduced for the Medicine Program at UNSW, with UAI and interview predictive of learning outcomes. Although not predictive, UMAT may have other useful roles in an integrated selection process. Further longitudinal research is proposed to monitor and improve the validity of the integrated student selection process.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-86
PMCID: PMC3999457  PMID: 24755325
Student selection; Predictive validity; Predicting; Performance; Demographics
6.  Practice effects in medical school entrance testing with the undergraduate medicine and health sciences admission test (UMAT) 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:48.
Background
The UMAT is widely used for selection into undergraduate medical and dental courses in Australia and New Zealand (NZ). It tests aptitudes thought to be especially relevant to medical studies and consists of 3 sections – logical reasoning and problem solving (UMAT-1), understanding people (UMAT-2) and non-verbal reasoning (UMAT-3). A substantial proportion of all candidates re-sit the UMAT. Re-sitting raises the issue as to what might be the precise magnitude and determinants of any practice effects on the UMAT and their implications for equity in subsequent selection processes.
Methods
Between 2000 and 2012, 158,909 UMAT assessments were completed. From these, 135,833 cases were identified where a candidate had sat once or more during that period with 117,505 cases (86.5%) having sat once, 14,739 having sat twice (10.9%), 2,752 thrice (2%) and 837, 4 or more times (0.6%). Subsequent analyses determined predictors of multiple re-sits as well as the magnitude and socio-demographic determinants of any practice effects.
Results
Increased likelihood of re-sitting the UMAT twice or more was predicted by being male, of younger age, being from a non-English language speaking background and being from NZ and for Australian candidates, being urban rather than rurally based. For those who sat at least twice, the total UMAT score between a first and second attempt improved by 10.7 ± 0.2 percentiles, UMAT-1 by 8.3 ± 0.2 percentiles, UMAT-2 by 8.3 ± 0.2 percentiles and UMAT-3 by 7.7 ± 0.2 percentiles. An increase in total UMAT percentile score on re-testing was predicted by a lower initial score and being a candidate from NZ rather than from Australia while a decrease was related to increased length of time since initially sitting the test, older age and non-English language background.
Conclusions
Re-sitting the UMAT augments performance in each of its components together with the total UMAT percentile score. Whether this increase represents just an improvement in performance or an improvement in understanding of the variables and therefore competence needs to be further defined. If only the former, then practice effects may be introducing inequity in student selection for medical or dental schools in Australia or NZ.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-48
PMCID: PMC4007585  PMID: 24618021
7.  The Premedical Student: His Identity 
Canadian Medical Association Journal  1964;91(19):1011-1018.
A prospective study is currently being conducted of students who were freshmen at the University of British Columbia in 1961-1962. Three cohorts are being followed: 136 premedical students, 107 science students, and 136 persons comprising a sample of general arts students. At registration in 1961, the only demographic difference was that the Premedical cohort had a greater proportion of catholics and persons from upper occupational classes. Premedical students generally performed as well in high school as science students and better than general arts students, though the academic potential of science students as measured by achievement and aptitude tests was superior. Premedical students performed better on freshman examinations than the other cohorts, though a significantly larger proportion of science students (84.4%) actually passed into second year than of premedical students (75.0%). A disturbing observation was that by second year the Science cohort had recruited more than enough students to balance its losses, while the Premedical cohort had lost three times as many students as it recruited. The net effect was not much reduced by students who entered directly from senior matriculation or other universities, since these students were about twice as likely to enter the Science cohort as they were to enter the Premedical cohort.
PMCID: PMC1928090  PMID: 14222669
8.  Comparison of communication skills between medical students admitted after interviews or on academic merits 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:46.
Background
Selection of the best medical students among applicants is debated and many different methods are used. Academic merits predict good academic performance, but students admitted by other pathways need not be less successful. The aim of this study, was to compare communication skills between students admitted to medical school through interviews or on academic merits, respectively.
Methods
A retrospective cohort study. Communication skills at a surgical OSCE in 2008 were assessed independently by two observers using an evaluative rating scale. Correlations, t-tests and multivariate analyses by logistic regressions were employed. Academic merits were defined as upper secondary school grade point average (GPA) or scores from the Swedish Scholastic Assessment Test (SweSAT).
Results
The risk of showing unsatisfactory communicative performance was significantly lower among the students selected by interviews (OR 0.32, CI95 0.12-0.83), compared to those selected on the basis of academic merits. However, there was no significant difference in communication skills scores between the different admission groups; neither did the proportion of high performers differ. No difference in the result of the written examination was seen between groups.
Conclusions
Our results confirm previous experience from many medical schools that students selected in different ways achieve comparable results during the clinical semesters. However, selection through interview seems to reduce the number of students who demonstrate inferior communication skills at 4th year of medical school.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-46
PMCID: PMC3503650  PMID: 22726308
9.  Can personal qualities of medical students predict in-course examination success and professional behaviour? An exploratory prospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:69.
Background
Over two-thirds of UK medical schools are augmenting their selection procedures for medical students by using the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which employs tests of cognitive and non-cognitive personal qualities, but clear evidence of the tests’ predictive validity is lacking. This study explores whether academic performance and professional behaviours that are important in a health professional context can be predicted by these measures, when taken before or very early in the medical course.
Methods
This prospective cohort study follows the progress of the entire student cohort who entered Hull York Medical School in September 2007, having taken the UKCAT cognitive tests in 2006 and the non-cognitive tests a year later. This paper reports on the students’ first and second academic years of study. The main outcome measures were regular, repeated tutor assessment of individual students’ interpersonal skills and professional behaviour, and annual examination performance in the three domains of recall and application of knowledge, evaluation of data, and communication and practical clinical skills. The relationships between non-cognitive test scores, cognitive test scores, tutor assessments and examination results were explored using the Pearson product–moment correlations for each group of data; the data for students obtaining the top and bottom 20% of the summative examination results were compared using Analysis of Variance.
Results
Personal qualities measured by non-cognitive tests showed a number of statistically significant relationships with ratings of behaviour made by tutors, with performance in each year’s objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and with themed written summative examination marks in each year. Cognitive ability scores were also significantly related to each year’s examination results, but seldom to professional behaviours. The top 20% of examination achievers could be differentiated from the bottom 20% on both non-cognitive and cognitive measures.
Conclusions
This study shows numerous significant relationships between both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, academic examination scores and indicators of professional behaviours in medical students. This suggests that measurement of non-cognitive personal qualities in applicants to medical school could make a useful contribution to selection and admission decisions. Further research is required in larger representative groups, and with more refined predictor measures and behavioural assessment methods, to establish beyond doubt the incremental validity of such measures over conventional cognitive assessments.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-69
PMCID: PMC3473297  PMID: 22873571
10.  Predictive power of UKCAT and other pre-admission measures for performance in a medical school in Glasgow: a cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:116.
Background
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) and its four subtests are currently used by 24 Medical and Dental Schools in the UK for admissions. This longitudinal study examines the predictive validity of UKCAT for final performance in the undergraduate medical degree programme at one Medical School and compares this with the predictive validity of the selection measures available pre-UKCAT.
Methods
This was a retrospective observational study of one cohort of students, admitted to Glasgow Medical School in 2007. We examined the associations which UKCAT scores, school science grades and pre-admissions interview scores had with performance indicators, particularly final composite scores that determine students’ postgraduate training opportunities and overall ranking (Educational Performance Measure - EPM, and Honours and Commendation – H&C). Analyses were conducted both with and without adjustment for potential socio-demographic confounders (gender, age, ethnicity and area deprivation).
Results
Despite its predictive value declining as students progress through the course, UKCAT was associated with the final composite scores. In mutually adjusted analyses (also adjusted for socio-demographic confounders), only UKCAT total showed independent relationships with both EPM (p = 0.005) and H&C (p = 0.004), school science achievements predicted EPM (p = 0.009), and pre-admissions interview score predicted neither. UKCAT showed less socio-demographic variation than did TSS.
Conclusion
UKCAT has a modest predictive power for overall course performance at the University of Glasgow Medical School over and above that of school science achievements or pre-admission interview score and we conclude that UKCAT is the most useful predictor of final ranking.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-116
PMCID: PMC4063234  PMID: 24919950
UKCAT; Predictive validity; Widening participation; Socio-economic indicators; Admissions interview; School HE participation rate
11.  Predictive validity of the UK clinical aptitude test in the final years of medical school: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:88.
Background
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was designed to address issues identified with traditional methods of selection. This study aims to examine the predictive validity of the UKCAT and compare this to traditional selection methods in the senior years of medical school. This was a follow-up study of two cohorts of students from two medical schools who had previously taken part in a study examining the predictive validity of the UKCAT in first year.
Methods
The sample consisted of 4th and 5th Year students who commenced their studies at the University of Aberdeen or University of Dundee medical schools in 2007. Data collected were: demographics (gender and age group), UKCAT scores; Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form scores; admission interview scores; Year 4 and 5 degree examination scores. Pearson’s correlations were used to examine the relationships between admissions variables, examination scores, gender and age group, and to select variables for multiple linear regression analysis to predict examination scores.
Results
Ninety-nine and 89 students at Aberdeen medical school from Years 4 and 5 respectively, and 51 Year 4 students in Dundee, were included in the analysis. Neither UCAS form nor interview scores were statistically significant predictors of examination performance. Conversely, the UKCAT yielded statistically significant validity coefficients between .24 and .36 in four of five assessments investigated. Multiple regression analysis showed the UKCAT made a statistically significant unique contribution to variance in examination performance in the senior years.
Conclusions
Results suggest the UKCAT appears to predict performance better in the later years of medical school compared to earlier years and provides modest supportive evidence for the UKCAT’s role in student selection within these institutions. Further research is needed to assess the predictive validity of the UKCAT against professional and behavioural outcomes as the cohort commences working life.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-88
PMCID: PMC4008381  PMID: 24762134
UKCAT; Predictive validity; Psychometric; Assessment; Selection; Admissions; Aptitude
12.  Strengthening the admissions process in health care professional education: focus on a premier Pacific Island medical college 
Relying solely on measures of intellectual aptitude and academic performance in university admissions can be disadvantageous to underprivileged students. The Fiji School of Medicine primarily uses such measures to evaluate and select student applicants, and the introduction of supplementary assessments could provide better access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This study examined the need for supplementary assessments in the admission process, types of additional assessments needed, and stakeholders’ views on a multi-entry multi-exit strategy currently in use at the Fiji School of Medicine. A survey of the key stakeholders was conducted in February and March 2012 using closed and open ended questionnaire. One hundred and twenty-two validated questionnaires were self-administered by key stakeholders from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) and Fiji Ministries of Education and Health, with a response rate of 61%. Returned questionnaires were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. Sixty-five percent of respondents supported the introduction of supplementary assessments, 49% favoured admissions test, and 16% preferred assessing non-academic factors. Many respondents supported the School’s multi-entry multi-exit strategy as a ‘good policy’ that provided ‘flexibility’ and opportunity for students, but should be better regulated. These findings demonstrate the need for supplementary assessments in the selection process and for continued support for the use of multi-entry multi-exit strategy at the school.
doi:10.3352/jeehp.2012.9.11
PMCID: PMC3545630  PMID: 23330054
Criteria, school admission; Equity; Fiji School of Medicine; Educational policy; Noncognitive factors
13.  Medical students who decompress during the M-1 year outperform those who fail and repeat it: A study of M-1 students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign 1988–2000 
Background
All medical schools must counsel poor-performing students, address their problems and assist them in developing into competent physicians. The objective of this study was to determine whether students with academic deficiencies in their M-1 year graduate more often, spend less time to complete the curriculum, and need fewer attempts at passing USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 by entering the Decompressed Program prior to failure of the M-1 year than those students who fail the M-1 year and then repeat it.
Method
The authors reviewed the performance of M-1 students in the Decompressed Program and compared their outcomes to M-1 students who failed and fully repeated the M-1 year. To compare the groups upon admission, t-Tests comparing the Cognitive Index of students and MCAT scores from both groups were performed. Performance of the two groups after matriculation was also analyzed.
Results
Decompressed students were 2.1 times more likely to graduate. Decompressed students were 2.5 times more likely to pass USMLE Step 1 on the first attempt than the repeat students. In addition, 46% of those in the decompressed group completed the program in five years compared to 18% of the repeat group.
Conclusion
Medical students who decompress their M-1 year prior to M-1 year failure outperform those who fail their first year and then repeat it. These findings indicate the need for careful monitoring of M-1 student performance and early intervention and counseling of struggling students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-5-18
PMCID: PMC1166556  PMID: 15943876
14.  Five-year survey of medical student attrition in a medical school in Nigeria: a pilot study 
Background
Student attrition represents a waste of career opportunity and, at times, results in a holistic loss of sense of self-worth for the students involved. The aim of this study was to evaluate the nature, causes, and impact of medical student attrition in Nigeria.
Method
A pilot analysis was undertaken using the records of students who failed at medical school as a result of inability to pass the second MBBS examination at Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria, between 2002 and 2007. Some of these students were interviewed using a structured questionnaire.
Results
Data analysis showed that 58 (7.8%) of the students admitted into preclinical class withdrew from their study. Thirty-six (62.1%) were males and the rest were females. Thirteen of those withdrawn were interviewed, and 53.8% of them believed they had poor academic ability, while 15.4% attributed their withdrawal to family pressure. No record of guidance or counseling session programs was noted for these students either at the point of withdrawal from the faculty and on the choice of a new career path.
Conclusion
As a result of the high attrition rate due to low academic ability, efforts should be made to check students for evidence of this at the point of admission to medicine training. Also, more accommodating teaching programs should be encouraged in faculties to accommodate students with such challenges. Good guidance and counseling programs should be encouraged to handle these inevitable cases of attrition when they occur, to avoid the demoralizing low self-esteem that plagues these individuals for the rest of their lives.
doi:10.2147/AMEP.S13395
PMCID: PMC3643137  PMID: 23745063
medical students; attrition; medical education; Nigeria
15.  Impact of Previous Pharmacy Work Experience on Pharmacy School Academic Performance 
Objectives
To determine whether students' previous pharmacy-related work experience was associated with their pharmacy school performance (academic and clinical).
Methods
The following measures of student academic performance were examined: pharmacy grade point average (GPA), scores on cumulative high-stakes examinations, and advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) grades. The quantity and type of pharmacy-related work experience each student performed prior to matriculation was solicited through a student survey instrument. Survey responses were correlated with academic measures, and demographic-based stratified analyses were conducted.
Results
No significant difference in academic or clinical performance between those students with prior pharmacy experience and those without was identified. Subanalyses by work setting, position type, and substantial pharmacy work experience did not reveal any association with student performance. A relationship was found, however, between age and work experience, ie, older students tended to have more work experience than younger students.
Conclusions
Prior pharmacy work experience did not affect students' overall academic or clinical performance in pharmacy school. The lack of significant findings may have been due to the inherent practice limitations of nonpharmacist positions, changes in pharmacy education, and the limitations of survey responses.
PMCID: PMC2865408  PMID: 20498735
work experience; performance admissions; academic performance; high-stakes testing
16.  Use of UKCAT scores in student selection by UK medical schools, 2006-2010 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:98.
Background
The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a set of cognitive tests introduced in 2006, taken annually before application to medical school. The UKCAT is a test of aptitude and not acquired knowledge and as such the results give medical schools a standardised and objective tool that all schools could use to assist their decision making in selection, and so provide a fairer means of choosing future medical students.
Selection of students for UK medical schools is usually in three stages: assessment of academic qualifications, assessment of further qualities from the application form submitted via UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) leading to invitation to interview, and then selection for offer of a place. Medical schools were informed of the psychometric qualities of the UKCAT subtests and given some guidance regarding the interpretation of results. Each school then decided how to use the results within its own selection system.
Methods
Annual retrospective key informant telephone interviews were conducted with every UKCAT Consortium medical school, using a pre-circulated structured questionnaire. The key points of the interview were transcribed, 'member checked' and a content analysis was undertaken.
Results
Four equally popular ways of using the test results have emerged, described as Borderline, Factor, Threshold and Rescue methods. Many schools use more than one method, at different stages in their selection process. Schools have used the scores in ways that have sought to improve the fairness of selection and support widening participation. Initially great care was taken not to exclude any applicant on the basis of low UKCAT scores alone but it has been used more as confidence has grown.
Conclusions
There is considerable variation in how medical schools use UKCAT, so it is important that they clearly inform applicants how the test will be used so they can make best use of their limited number of applications.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-98
PMCID: PMC3248371  PMID: 22114935
17.  The value of the UK Clinical Aptitude Test in predicting pre-clinical performance: a prospective cohort study at Nottingham Medical School 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:55.
Background
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was introduced in 2006 as an additional tool for the selection of medical students. It tests mental ability in four distinct domains (Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Decision Analysis), and the results are available to students and admissions panels in advance of the selection process. As yet the predictive validity of the test against course performance is largely unknown.
The study objective was to determine whether UKCAT scores predict performance during the first two years of the 5-year undergraduate medical course at Nottingham.
Methods
We studied a single cohort of students, who entered Nottingham Medical School in October 2007 and had taken the UKCAT. We used linear regression analysis to identify independent predictors of marks for different parts of the 2-year preclinical course.
Results
Data were available for 204/260 (78%) of the entry cohort. The UKCAT total score had little predictive value. Quantitative Reasoning was a significant independent predictor of course marks in Theme A ('The Cell'), (p = 0.005), and Verbal Reasoning predicted Theme C ('The Community') (p < 0.001), but otherwise the effects were slight or non-existent.
Conclusion
This limited study from a single entry cohort at one medical school suggests that the predictive value of the UKCAT, particularly the total score, is low. Section scores may predict success in specific types of course assessment.
The ultimate test of validity will not be available for some years, when current cohorts of students graduate. However, if this test of mental ability does not predict preclinical performance, it is arguably less likely to predict the outcome in the clinical years. Further research from medical schools with different types of curriculum and assessment is needed, with longitudinal studies throughout the course.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-55
PMCID: PMC2922293  PMID: 20667093
18.  The validity of Iran’s national university entrance examination (Konkoor) for predicting medical students’ academic performance 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:60.
Background
In Iran, admission to medical school is based solely on the results of the highly competitive, nationwide Konkoor examination. This paper examines the predictive validity of Konkoor scores, alone and in combination with high school grade point averages (hsGPAs), for the academic performance of public medical school students in Iran.
Methods
This study followed the cohort of 2003 matriculants at public medical schools in Iran from entrance through internship. The predictor variables were Konkoor total and subsection scores and hsGPAs. The outcome variables were (1) Comprehensive Basic Sciences Exam (CBSE) scores; (2) Comprehensive Pre-Internship Exam (CPIE) scores; and (3) medical school grade point averages (msGPAs) for the courses taken before internship. Pearson correlation and regression analyses were used to assess the relationships between the selection criteria and academic performance.
Results
There were 2126 matriculants (1374 women and 752 men) in 2003. Among the outcome variables, the CBSE had the strongest association with the Konkoor total score (r = 0.473), followed by msGPA (r = 0.339) and the CPIE (r = 0.326). While adding hsGPAs to the Konkoor total score almost doubled the power to predict msGPAs (R2 = 0.225), it did not have a substantial effect on CBSE or CPIE prediction.
Conclusions
The Konkoor alone, and even in combination with hsGPA, is a relatively poor predictor of medical students’ academic performance, and its predictive validity declines over the academic years of medical school. Care should be taken to develop comprehensive admissions criteria, covering both cognitive and non-cognitive factors, to identify the best applicants to become "good doctors" in the future. The findings of this study can be helpful for policy makers in the medical education field.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-60
PMCID: PMC3461424  PMID: 22840211
19.  The Premedical Student: His Progress 
Since September 1961, a prospective study of premedical and science students has been conducted at the University of British Columbia. On completion of their sophomore year, after a year of changes from one group to another or withdrawal from either group, only 82 students existed in the diminished Premedical cohort while 137 students existed in the augmented Science cohort. These two groups have now become similar demographically, and their academic potential, as indicated by achievement and ability tests, has also become similar in terms of their mean test scores. In academic performance the present Premedical cohort has displayed some superiority over the Science cohort in high school, freshman and sophomore years. The sophomore premedical mean grade was 66.0% compared with 63.7% for the Science cohort. The hypothesis is developed that these findings reflect a difference in motivation, and therefore that perception of ultimate career goals will motivate and affect academic performance of students in their undergraduate years.
PMCID: PMC1928565  PMID: 14278022
20.  Debiasing the hidden curriculum 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(1):e26-e30.
Abstract
Objective
To compare the academic performance of students who entered family medicine residency programs with that of students who entered other disciplines and discern whether or not family physicians are as academically talented as their colleagues in other specialties.
Design
Retrospective quantitative study.
Setting
University of Calgary in Alberta.
Participants
Three graduating classes of students (2004 to 2006) from the University of Calgary medical school.
Main outcome measures
Student performance on various undergraduate certifying examinations in years 1, 2, and 3, along with third-year in-training evaluation reports and total score on the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part I.
Results
Complete data were available for 99% of graduates (N = 295). In the analysis, residency program (family medicine [n = 96] versus non–family medicine [n = 199]) served as the independent variable. Using a 1-way multivariate ANOVA (analysis of variance), no significant difference among any of the mean performance scores was observed (F5289 = 1.73, P > .05). Students who entered family medicine were also well represented within the top 10 rankings of the various performance measures.
Conclusion
The academic performance of students who pursued careers in family medicine did not differ from that of students who chose other specialties. Unfounded negativity toward family medicine has important societal implications, especially at a time when the gap between the number of family physicians and patients seeking primary care services appears to be widening.
PMCID: PMC3024184  PMID: 21252122
21.  Relationship between cognitive function and prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation in adolescents 
Background
Decrease in intrinsic motivation is a common complaint among elementary and junior high school students, and is related to poor academic performance. Since grade-dependent development of cognitive functions also influences academic performance by these students, we examined whether cognitive functions are related to the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation.
Methods
The study group consisted of 134 elementary school students from 4th to 6th grades and 133 junior high school students from 7th to 9th grades. Participants completed a questionnaire on intrinsic academic motivation. They also performed paper-and-pencil and computerized cognitive tests to measure abilities in motor processing, spatial construction, semantic fluency, immediate memory, short-term memory, delayed memory, spatial working memory, and selective, alternative, and divided attention.
Results
In multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for grade and gender, scores of none of the cognitive tests were correlated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation in elementary school students. However, low digit span forward test score and score for comprehension of the story in the kana pick-out test were positively correlated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation in junior high school students.
Conclusions
The present findings suggest that decrease in capacity for verbal memory is associated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation among junior high school students.
doi:10.1186/1744-9081-7-4
PMCID: PMC3027115  PMID: 21235802
22.  Entry Characteristics and Academic Performance of Students in a Master of Pharmacy Degree Program in the United Kingdom 
Objective. To evaluate the characteristics of a cohort of master of pharmacy (MPharm) students upon entry into the program and examine associations between entry qualifications, type of secondary school attended, socioeconomic status, age, and academic performance in the MPharm program.
Methods. A retrospective cohort analysis was conducted of student data for graduates of the Aston University MPharm program during the 5-year period 2005-2006 through 2009-2010 (n=644).
Results. MPharm entrants were disproportionately drawn from socioeconomically deprived areas and independent (private) schools. Achievement prior to admission was related to the type of school attended but not to socioeconomic status. Performance in the program was not related to type of school or socioeconomic status but was strongly correlated with prior academic achievement.
Conclusions. Prior academic achievement was the most important predictor of performance in the MPharm program; however, the superior prior achievement of students who attended independent secondary schools was not seen at the point of graduation. These findings may have implications for admissions policies.
doi:10.5688/ajpe767126
PMCID: PMC3448464  PMID: 23049098
master of pharmacy degree; performance; pharmacy; graduate program
23.  Predicting the “strugglers”: a case-control study of students at Nottingham University Medical School 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7548):1009-1013.
Objective To identify potential predictors of undergraduate students who struggle during their medical training.
Design Case-control study. Cases were students who had experienced academic or personal difficulties that affected their progression on the course (“strugglers”). Controls were selected at random from the corresponding year cohorts, using a ratio of four controls for each struggler.
Setting University of Nottingham Medical School.
Participants Students who entered the course over five consecutive years.
Main outcome measures Likelihood ratios for independent risk factors for struggling on the course
Results 10-15% of each year's student intake were identified as strugglers. Significant independent predictors of students being in this category were negative comments in the academic reference (likelihood ratio 2.25, 95% confidence intervals 1.44 to 3.50), lower mean examination grade at A level (2.19, 1.37 to 3.51), and the late offer of a place (1.98, 1.19 to 3.30). Male sex was a less significant risk factor (1.70, 1.09 to 2.65) as was a lower grade at GCSE science (2.13, 1.12 to 4.05). In UK students whose ethnicity was known, not being white was a significant predictor of struggling (2.77, 1.52 to 5.05) but the presence of negative comments was not. Age at entry to the course and the possession of a previous degree were not predictive.
Conclusions Our results support retention of existing selection practices relating to academic achievement and critical review of students' references. We plan to undertake further investigation of the reasons why some students, including men, those with late offers and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, may do less well on the Nottingham course.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38730.678310.63
PMCID: PMC1450046  PMID: 16543299
24.  Survey of perceived stress-inducing problems among dental students, Saudi Arabia 
The Saudi Dental Journal  2010;22(2):83-88.
Objective
This study was conducted to assess the problems related to stress encountered by Saudi dental students.
Methods
One thousand and thirty questionnaires were distributed in four dental schools to all students from 2nd year level up to the internship level. The questionnaire contained 66 items organized into four categories: personal and administrative, theoretical, preclinical and clinical. The relationship between the demographic variables and students’ academic performance with the investigated items was also assessed.
Results
The response rate was 53%. Saudi dental students showed high levels of perceived stress. The clinical training issues imposed the highest level of stress on the students. Some significant relationships between the investigated variables and the level of the perceived stress were found.
Conclusions
Female students had higher mean overall problem scores compared to male students, and second-year students showed lower perceived problems compared to other students.
doi:10.1016/j.sdentj.2010.02.007
PMCID: PMC3723267  PMID: 23960480
Stress; Dental students; Education; Clinical training
25.  Factors related to medical school application and acceptance in minority summer enrichment program students. 
Baylor College of Medicine has conducted a summer enrichment program for minority/disadvantaged premedical students since 1969. Follow-up data on medical school application and acceptance for participants from 1980 through 1984 were analyzed in relation to selected preprogram variables--cumulative college grade point average, total Scholastic Aptitude Test score, competitiveness of undergraduate college, sex, and ethnicity. Results of univariate and multivariate analyses indicated that: 1) females were significantly less likely to apply to medical school than males, 2) females had significantly lower mean MCAT scores (5.9 vs 7.2) even though their preprogram academic performance was comparable to that of the males, and 3) after controlling for MCAT scores, none of the preprogram variables were significant in predicting medical school acceptance. These findings suggest the need for research to explain the discrepancy between male and female MCAT performance and frequency of medical school application in summer program participants. The findings also have implications for the type of counseling provided to female participants in summer enrichment programs.
PMCID: PMC2627148  PMID: 1920520

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