Thursday, November 19, 2009

Does the UKCAT predict Year 1 performance in medical school?

Context: The need to identify the best applicants for medicine and to ensure that selection is fair and ethical has led to the development of alternative, or additional, selection tools. One such tool is the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test, or UKCAT. To date there have been no studies of the predictive validity of the UKCAT.

Objectives: This study set out to identify whether UKCAT total score and subtest scores predict Year 1 outcomes in medical school.

Methods: Year 1 students starting in 2007 at the University of Aberdeen or University of Dundee medical schools were included. Data collected were: UKCAT scores; Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form scores; admission interview scores; final Year 1 degree examination scores, and records of re-sitting examinations and of withdrawing from a course. Correlations were used to select variables for multiple regression analysis to predict examination scores.

Results: Data were available for 341 students. Examination scores did not correlate with UKCAT total or subtest scores. Neither UCAS form score nor admission interview score predicted outcomes. None of the UKCAT scores were reliably associated with withdrawals (P-values for all comparisons > 0.05). Only the decision analysis subtest was associated with re-sits of examinations, but the difference in means was contrary to the direction anticipated (P = 0.025, 95% confidence interval = 6.1–89.7).

Discussion: UKCAT scores did not predict Year 1 performance at the two medical schools. Although early prediction is arguably not the primary aim of the UKCAT, there is some cause for concern that the test failed to show even the small-to-moderate predictive power demonstrated by similar admissions tools.

Does the UKCAT predict Year 1 performance in medical school? 2009 Medical Education 43 1203-1209