It has been suggested that studying non-science subjects at A-level should be compulsory for medical students. Our admissions criteria specify only Biology, Chemistry and one or more additional subjects. This study aimed to determine whether studying a non-science subject for A-level is an independent predictor of achievement on the undergraduate medical course.
The subjects of this retrospective cohort study were 164 students from one entry-year group (October 2000), who progressed normally on the 5-year undergraduate medical course at Nottingham. Pre-admission academic and socio-demographic data and undergraduate course marks were obtained. T-test and hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses were undertaken to identify independent predictors of five course outcomes at different stages throughout the course.
There was no evidence that the choice of science or non-science as the third or fourth A-level subject had any influence on course performance. Demographic variables (age group, sex, and fee status) had some predictive value but ethnicity did not. Pre-clinical course performance was the strongest predictor in the clinical phases (pre-clinical Themes A&B (knowledge) predicted Clinical Knowledge, p < 0.001, and pre-clinical Themes C&D (skills) predicted Clinical Skills, p = < 0.01).
This study of one year group at Nottingham Medical School provided no evidence that the admissions policy on A-level requirements should specify the choice of third or fourth subject.
Prior to 1999 students entering our MBBS course were selected on academic performance alone. We have now evaluated the impact on the demographics of subsequent cohorts of our standard entry students (those entering directly from high school) of the addition to the selection process of an aptitude test (UMAT), a highly structured interview and a rural incentive program.
Students entering from 1985 to 1998, selected on academic performance alone (N = 1402), were compared to those from 1999 to 2011, selected on the basis of a combination of academic performance, interview score, and UMAT score together with the progressive introduction of a rural special entry pathway (N = 1437).
Males decreased from 57% to 45% of the cohort, students of NE or SE Asian origin decreased from 30% to 13%, students born in Oceania increased from 52% to 69%, students of rural origin from 5% to 21% and those from independent high schools from 56% to 66%. The proportion of students from high schools with relative socio-educational disadvantage remained unchanged at approximately 10%. The changes reflect in part increasing numbers of female and independent high school applicants and the increasing rural quota. However, they were also associated with higher interview scores in females vs males and lower interview scores in those of NE and SE Asian origin compared to those born in Oceania or the UK. Total UMAT scores were unrelated to gender or region of origin.
The revised selection processes had no impact on student representation from schools with relative socio-educational disadvantage. However, the introduction of special entry quotas for students of rural origin and a structured interview, but not an aptitude test, were associated with a change in gender balance and ethnicity of students in an Australian undergraduate MBBS course.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a study of 60 students who entered the intercalated honours BSc course in pathology at the University of Edinburgh over 10 years the conventional criteria of academic excellence and motivation were shown to be appropriate for the selection of honours students. When compared with classmates who did not take the intercalated year but who had shown similar high academic ability in the preclinical course the students who had taken the honours BSc did better in the remainder of the undergraduate curriculum. Of 42 honours students, 18 (43%) entered academic careers, particularly in pathology and medicine, but there was no observed tendency for students without honours BSc to do so. Although it is impossible to establish a causal relation between taking the honours course and subsequent academic distinction, the results suggest that the intercalated honours BSc in pathology serves a useful function in introducing able students into academic careers. The findings justify the financial support made available to such students during their intercalated year by the Medical Research Council and the Scottish Education Department.
To identify non-cognitive and socio-demographic characteristics determining academic success of Sri Lankan medical undergraduates.
A retrospective study among 90 recently graduated students of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. Students were stratified into two equal groups; ‘High-achievers’ (honours degree at the final MBBS examination) and ‘Low-achievers’ (repeated one or more subjects at the same examination). A revised version of the Non-cognitive Questionnaire (NQ) with additional socio-demographic data was the study instrument. Academic performance indicator was performance at the final MBBS examinations. A binary logistic regression analysis was performed using the dichotomous variable ‘Honours degree at final MBBS’ as the dependant factor.
Males were 56.7%. Mean age ± SD was 26.4 ± 0.9 years. ‘High-achievers’ were significantly younger than ‘Low-achievers’. Significant proportion of ‘High-achievers’ were from the Western province and selected to university from Colombo district. A significant majority of ‘High-achievers’ entered medical school from their first attempt at GCE A/L examination and obtained ‘Distinctions’ at the GCE A/L English subject. ‘High-achievers’ demonstrated a significantly higher mean score for the following domains of NQ; Positive self-concept and confidence, realistic self-appraisal, leadership, preference of long range goals and academic familiarity.
The binary logistic regression indicates that age, being selected to university from Colombo district, residency in Western province, entering university from GCE A/L first attempt, obtaining a ‘Distinction’ for GCE A/L English subject, higher number of patient-oriented case discussions, positive self-concept and confidence, leadership qualities, preference of long range goals and academic familiarity all significantly increased the odds of obtaining a Honours degree.
A combined system incorporating both past academic performance and non-cognitive characteristics might help improve the selection process and early recognition of strugglers.
Academic performance; Predictors; Non-cognitive characteristics; Medical students; Sri Lanka
To evaluate daily-written 10-question quizzes in a medical anatomy course as a way to integrate assessment into the course and to evaluate their effect on the course success.
Students answering correctly 8/10 or more questions were awarded 0.5 points per quiz. There were 34 quizzes with a maximum point score 17. Measurable outcomes of academic progress in anatomy course (pass rates on 4 examination terms, total pass rate, and average marks) were calculated, and 2007/08 academic year was compared with the previous academic year in which daily written quizzes were not a part of the course. The relationship between cumulative points on daily quizzes and 3 components of the final examination (written, practical, and oral) for 2007/08 academic year was assessed by non-parametric correlation testing.
Individual scores on quizzes ranged from 1.5 to 13.5 points. There was a positive correlation between scores on quizzes and grades on 3 components of the final examination: written (Spearman ρ = 0.784, P < 0.001, n = 79), practical (Spearman ρ = 0.342, P < 0.002, n = 79), and oral (Spearman ρ = 0.683, P < 0.001, n = 79) part. Compared with students in the previous academic year, students attending the course with daily quizzes significantly improved their academic achievement, expressed as the pass rate at the first examination term (39% vs 62%, respectively, χ2 test, P = 0.006) and the average course grade (2.71 ± 1.08 vs 3.38 ± 1.26, respectively; t test, P < 0.001).
Despite their frequency and possible associated stress, daily quizzes were associated with better academic success in the anatomy course.
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.
We examined the relation between demographic characteristics and the career choices of medical students who entered McMaster University medical school between 1969 and 1975. In contrast to earlier work, this study found no significant differences in sex, age, marital status at the time of entry into medical school, undergraduate major, whether prerequisite premedical courses had been taken, undergraduate grade point average and academic performance between the graduates who chose primary care and those who chose a specialty. This suggests that many medical school graduates in the 1970s entered primary care by choice rather than by default.
Objective To describe the current methods used by English medical schools to identify prospective medical students for admission to the five year degree course.
Design Review study including documentary analysis and interviews with admissions tutors.
Setting All schools (n = 22) participating in the national expansion of medical schools programme in England.
Results Though there is some commonality across schools with regard to the criteria used to select future students (academic ability coupled with a “well rounded” personality demonstrated by motivation for medicine, extracurricular interests, and experience of team working and leadership skills) the processes used vary substantially. Some schools do not interview; some shortlist for interview only on predicted academic performance while those that shortlist on a wider range of non-academic criteria use various techniques and tools to do so. Some schools use information presented in the candidate's personal statement and referee's report while others ignore this because of concerns over bias. A few schools seek additional information from supplementary questionnaires filled in by the candidates. Once students are shortlisted, interviews vary in terms of length, panel composition, structure, content, and scoring methods.
Conclusion The stated criteria for admission to medical school show commonality. Universities differ greatly, however, in how they apply these criteria and in the methods used to select students. Different approaches to admissions should be developed and tested.
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.
Retrospective quantitative study.
University of Calgary in Alberta.
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.
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.
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.
Performance ratings were obtained by the clinical supervisors of four graduated classes of McMaster University medical students during internship. The supervisors detected no difference in performance between the graduates who met the "traditional" admissions criteria (both an undergraduate grade point average of 3.1 or greater on a 4-point scale and previous training in biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics) and those who lacked one or both of these prerequisites. These data suggest that medical schools can expand their admissions criteria without fearing that their graduates will perform less well as interns because of a lack of traditional academic preparation for medical school.
KIST Medical College follows the curriculum of the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University. The programme aims to produce socially responsible and competent physicians who are willing and able to meet the existing and emerging challenges of the national and international healthcare system. The first cohort of undergraduate medical students (MBBS) students was admitted in November 2008 and three cohorts including the one admitted in 2008 have been admitted at the time of writing. The basic science subjects are taught in an integrated, organ-system-based manner with community medicine during the first two years. I was appointed as the MBBS Phase I programme coordinator in September 2008 and in this article I share my experiences of running the basic sciences programme and also offer suggestions for running an efficient academic programme. The manuscript will be of special interest to readers running undergraduate medical programmes. The reader can understand our experiences in running the programme in adverse circumstances, learning to achieve greater integration among basic science, community medicine and clinical departments, obtain information about a community diagnosis programme and know about running special modules on the medical humanities and pharmaceutical promotion.
Assessments; basic sciences; correlation seminars; Nepal; organ system; undergraduate medical
Student choice plays a prominent role in the undergraduate curriculum in many contemporary medical schools. A key unanswered question relates to its impact on academic performance.
We studied 301 students who were in years 2 and 3 of their medical studies in 2005/06. We investigated the relationship between SSC grade and allocated preference. Separately, we examined the impact of ‘self-proposing’ (students designing and completing their own SSC) on academic performance in other, standard-set, summative assessments throughout the curriculum. The chi-squared test was used to compare academic performance in SSC according to allocated preference. Generalised estimating equations were used to investigate the effect of self-proposing on performance in standard-set examinations.
(1) Performance in staff-designed SSC was not related to allocated preference. (2) Performance in year 1 main examination was one of the key predictors of performance in written and OSCE examinations in years 2, 3 and 4 (p<0.001). (3) The higher the score in the year 1 examination, the more likely a student was to self-propose in subsequent years (OR [CI] 1.07 [1.03-1.11], p<0.001). (4) Academic performance of students who self-proposed at least once in years 2 and/or 3 varied according to gender and year of course.
In this study, no association was observed between allocated preference and SSC grade. The effect of self-proposing on academic performance in standard-set examinations was small. Our findings suggest instead that academically brighter students are more likely to design their own modules. Although student choice may have educational benefits, this report does not provide convincing evidence that it improves academic performance.
The North Carolina State University Biotechnology Program offers laboratory-intensive courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. In “Manipulation and Expression of Recombinant DNA,” students are separated into undergraduate and graduate sections for the laboratory, but not the lecture, component. Evidence has shown that students prefer pairing with someone of the same academic level. However, retention of main ideas in peer learning environments has been shown to be greater when partners have dissimilar abilities. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that there will be enhanced student learning when lab partners are of different academic levels. We found that learning outcomes were met by both levels of student, regardless of pairing. Average undergraduate grades on every assessment method increased when undergraduates were paired with graduate students. Many of the average graduate student grades also increased modestly when graduate students were paired with undergraduates. Attitudes toward working with partners dramatically shifted toward favoring working with students of different academic levels. This work suggests that offering dual-level courses in which different-level partnerships are created does not inhibit learning by students of different academic levels. This format is useful for institutions that wish to offer “boutique” courses in which student enrollment may be low, but specialized equipment and faculty expertise are needed.
Impressions and anecdotal evidence have raised concerns that traditional cognitive measures of past performance may not be predictive of the performance among minority students in medical school. This study assessed the relationship between nine objective measures and actual first year academic performance for cohorts of minority students enrolled in a single medical school between 1973 and 1976.
The findings support previous impressions that objective measures together explain less than half of the variance in academic performance. Furthermore, the cumulative undergraduate college average and the competitiveness of the undergraduate college are consistently the strongest predictors of academic performance among this group.
This study investigated the use of a Web-based community health simulation as a problem-based learning (PBL) experience for undergraduate students majoring in public health. The study sought to determine whether students who participated in the online simulation achieved differences in academic and attitudinal outcomes compared with students who participated in a traditional PBL exercise.
Using a nonexperimental comparative design, 21 undergraduate students enrolled in a health-behavior course were each randomly assigned to one of four workgroups. Each workgroup was randomly assigned the semester-long simulation project or the traditional PBL exercise. Survey instruments were used to measure students' attitudes toward the course, their perceptions of the learning community, and perceptions of their own cognitive learning. Content analysis of final essay exams and group reports was used to identify differences in academic outcomes and students' level of conceptual understanding of health-behavior theory.
Findings indicated that students participating in the simulation produced higher mean final exam scores compared with students participating in the traditional PBL (p=0.03). Students in the simulation group also outperformed students in the traditional group with respect to their understanding of health-behavior theory (p=0.04). Students in the simulation group, however, rated their own level of cognitive learning lower than did students in the traditional group (p=0.03).
By bridging time and distance constraints of the traditional classroom setting, an online simulation may be an effective PBL approach for public health students. Recommendations include further research using a larger sample to explore students' perceptions of learning when participating in simulated real-world activities. Additional research focusing on possible differences between actual and perceived learning relative to PBL methods and student workgroup dynamics is also recommended.
BIO2010 advocates enhancing the interdisciplinary, mathematics, and physical science components of the undergraduate biology curriculum. The Department of Chemistry and Life Science at West Point responded by developing a required physical chemistry course tailored to the interests of life science majors. To overcome student resistance to physical chemistry, students were enabled as long-term stakeholders who would shape the syllabus by selecting life science topics of interest to them. The initial 2 yr of assessment indicates that students have a positive view of the course, feel they have succeeded in achieving course outcome goals, and that the course is relevant to their professional future. Instructor assessment of student outcome goal achievement via performance on exams and labs is comparable to that of students in traditional physical chemistry courses. Perhaps more noteworthy, both student and instructor assessment indicate positive trends from year 1 to year 2, presumably due to the student stakeholder effect.
Examined predictors of academic achievement, measured by standardized test scores, and performance, measured by school grades, in adolescents (Mage=16.8 yr) who met diagnostic criteria for ADHD-Combined type in early childhood (Mage = 8.5; N = 579). Several mediation models were also tested to determine whether ADHD medication use, receipt of special education, classroom performance, homework completion, or homework management mediated the relationship between symptoms of ADHD and academic outcomes. Childhood predictors of adolescent achievement differed from those for performance. Classroom performance and homework management mediated the relationship between symptoms of inattention and academic outcomes. Implications for understanding the relationship between symptoms of ADHD and academic functioning are discussed.
ADHD; Academic; Predictors; Adolescence; Grades; Achievement
Objective. To change the structure of a required pharmacy management course to make it more interactive and engaging for students.
Design. The course is a required component of undergraduate curriculum and is completed over 2 semesters during the students’ third year. Changes included requiring students to lead classroom discussions and complete a business plan in groups.
Assessment. A questionnaire centering on methods of delivery, course content, and outcomes was distributed in 2 academic years, with 74.7% of students responding. Even though the redesigned course required more time, there was strong support for the course among students because they realized the content contributed to their learning.
Conclusion. A major course redesign is a big commitment by faculty members, but if done through consultations with former and current students, it can be rewarding for all involved. Students overwhelmingly embraced the changes to the course as they realized the restructuring and the resulting increase in workload were necessary to raise the relevance of the course to their future professional practice.
pharmacy management; curriculum; engagement; active learning; self-directed learning
Objective To determine whether the ethnicity of UK trained doctors and medical students is related to their academic performance.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Online databases PubMed, Scopus, and ERIC; Google and Google Scholar; personal knowledge; backwards and forwards citations; specific searches of medical education journals and medical education conference abstracts.
Study selection The included quantitative reports measured the performance of medical students or UK trained doctors from different ethnic groups in undergraduate or postgraduate assessments. Exclusions were non-UK assessments, only non-UK trained candidates, only self reported assessment data, only dropouts or another non-academic variable, obvious sampling bias, or insufficient details of ethnicity or outcomes.
Results 23 reports comparing the academic performance of medical students and doctors from different ethnic groups were included. Meta-analyses of effects from 22 reports (n=23 742) indicated candidates of “non-white” ethnicity underperformed compared with white candidates (Cohen’s d=−0.42, 95% confidence interval −0.50 to −0.34; P<0.001). Effects in the same direction and of similar magnitude were found in meta-analyses of undergraduate assessments only, postgraduate assessments only, machine marked written assessments only, practical clinical assessments only, assessments with pass/fail outcomes only, assessments with continuous outcomes only, and in a meta-analysis of white v Asian candidates only. Heterogeneity was present in all meta-analyses.
Conclusion Ethnic differences in academic performance are widespread across different medical schools, different types of exam, and in undergraduates and postgraduates. They have persisted for many years and cannot be dismissed as atypical or local problems. We need to recognise this as an issue that probably affects all of UK medical and higher education. More detailed information to track the problem as well as further research into its causes is required. Such actions are necessary to ensure a fair and just method of training and of assessing current and future doctors.
Recent research shows that nonacademic variables must be taken into account when analyzing the indicators of medical student success. However, most previous studies have been limited to a single institution or population. This study investigated the relationship between nonacademic variables and performance at two very different medical schools. The Noncognitive Questionnaire was administered to 104 students at School A (predominantly white and historically oriented toward women) and 102 at School B (predominantly black). Correlation and multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine the relationship among nonacademic variables, undergraduate academic variables (Medical College Admission Test, undergraduate grade point average, and college quality), basic science grades, and US Medical Licensure Exam Step I (USMLE 1) scores. At School A, leadership/decisiveness, expected difficulty, and motivation predicted higher USMLE I scores and higher basic science grades each semester. At School B, expected difficulty was correlated with higher first semester grades only. For School A women, initiative/commitment was positively associated with both higher grades and higher USMLE scores. For black students of School B, expected difficulty was positively associated with higher grades. Identifying school-specific nonacademic variables of performance is critical to developing improved student support services.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.