UKCAT-12 longitudinal study sheds light on medical school admissions

Posted by er134 at Nov 14, 2013 10:10 AM |
University of Leicester is founding member of UKCAT

Issued by UKCAT on 14 November 2013

In papers published today in open access journal BMC Medicine, researchers report on a study assessing the validity of educational attainment and UKCAT as predictors of medical school performance.  Researchers had access to progression data relating to students in twelve UK medical schools using UKCAT within their admissions processes.  They looked at three cohorts of medical students who had taken the UKCAT in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

UKCAT is a significant predictor of performance in first year examinations at medical schools

The researchers conclude, as in previous studies, that educational attainment measures are significant predictors of outcome. UKCAT scores are also significant predictors of medical school performance. The incremental validity of UKCAT after taking prior educational attainment into account is significant, but small.  The existence of incremental validity demonstrates that UKCAT is valuable at an operational level, where medical schools are currently making selection decisions based on incomplete measures of educational attainment (including predicted grades).

The average A-level attainment of the school attended is the critical contextual measure

Contextual measures provide little additional predictive value in terms of performance at medical school, with the exception of overall level of secondary school attainment.  Students from high attaining secondary schools perform less well than those from less well attaining secondary schools (regardless of school type).  HEFCE has previously shown similar findings in relation to school type and performance predicting degree classification.  The UKCAT-12 study supports these findings for a group of students whose prior educational attainment is very similar and who have been admitted to highly selective programmes.  The findings have implications for recruitment to similar high demand programmes and institutions.

UKCAT database provides unique opportunity to improve the evidence base in medical and dental selection

UKCAT is committed to achieving greater fairness in selection for medical and dental training and to widening participating in under-represented social groups.  Through an ongoing programme of research UKCAT is seeking to address these issues, and at the same time identify the characteristics of applicants which will make them good doctors and dentists.  The UKCAT database contains data regarding all test takers since 2006 including a significant amount of progression data collected from participating medical and dental schools.  The database presents researchers with a unique resource to investigate the value of different approaches to admissions in these two high demand subjects.


Notes to editors:

The UKCAT-12 study: Educational attainment, aptitude test performance, demographic and socio economic contextual factors as predictors of first year outcome in a cross-sectional collaborative study of twelve UK medical schools.

IC McManus, Chris Dewberry, Sandra Nicholson and Jonathan S Dowell

BMC Medicine 2013, 11:244, doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-244

UKCAT is an admission test used by 26 Universities within admissions to medicine and dentistry.  The test is taken by around 25000 candidates a year.  The test comprises separately timed subtests assessing verbal, quantitative and abstract reasoning, decision making and situational judgement.  Further details regarding the test can be found on the UKCAT website (

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