Open Access Research article

The validity of Iran’s national university entrance examination (Konkoor) for predicting medical students’ academic performance

Yasin Farrokhi-Khajeh-Pasha1, Saharnaz Nedjat2*, Aeen Mohammadi3, Elaheh Malakan Rad4, Reza Majdzadeh2, Farshid Monajemi5, Ehsan Jamali6 and Shahryar Yazdani7

Author Affiliations

1 Medical School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 School of public health, Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Center for Educational Research in Medical Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Medical Center (Pediatric Center of Excellence), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5 Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran

6 National Organization of Educational Testing, Tehran, Iran

7 Educational development center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:60  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-60

Published: 28 July 2012



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.