UKCAT and medical student selection in the UK - what has changed since 2006?

Rachel Greatrix (Lead / Corresponding author), Jonathan Dowell

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    Abstract

    Background: The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is an aptitude test used since 2006 within selection processes of a consortium of UK medical and dental schools. Since 2006, student numbers have increased in medical training and schools now have an increased focus on widening access. A growing evidence base has emerged around medical student selection (Patterson et al., Med Educ 50:36-60, 2016) leading to changes in practice. However, whilst some papers describe local selection processes, there has been no overview of trends in selection processes over time across Universities. This study reports on how the use of the UKCAT in medical student selection has changed and comments on other changes in selection processes.

    Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted annually with UKCAT Consortium medical schools. Use of the UKCAT was categorised and data analysed to identify trends over time.

    Results: The number of schools using the UKCAT to select applicants for interview has risen, with cognitive test results contributing significantly to outcomes at this stage at many universities. Where schools use different weighted criteria (Factor Method), the UKCAT has largely replaced the use of personal statements. Use of the test at offer stage has also increased; the most significant use being to discriminate between applicants at a decision borderline. A growing number of schools are using the UKCAT Situational Judgement Test (SJT) in selection. In 2018, all but seven (out of 26) schools made some adjustment to selection processes for widening access applicants. Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) are now used by the majority of schools. Whilst medical student numbers have increased over this time, the ratio of applicants to places has fallen. The probability of applicants being invited to interview or receiving an offer has increased.

    Conclusions: More medical schools are using the UKCAT in undergraduate selection processes in an increasing number of ways and with increasing weight compared with 2007. It has replaced the use of personal statements in all but a few Consortium medical schools. An increased focus on academic attainment and the UKCAT across medical schools may be leading to the need for schools to interview and make offers to more applicants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number292
    Number of pages12
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Volume20
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2020

    Keywords

    • Medical student admissions
    • Medical student selection
    • UKCAT

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