Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Predictive validity of the UK clinical aptitude test in the final years of medical school: a prospective cohort study

Adrian Husbands1*, Alistair Mathieson2, Jonathan Dowell1, Jennifer Cleland2 and Rhoda MacKenzie2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, University of Dundee, The Mackenzie Building, Kirsty Semple Way, Dundee DD2 4BF, UK

2 Division of Medical and Dental Education, University of Aberdeen, Polwarth Building, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:88  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-88

Published: 23 April 2014

Abstract

Background

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was designed to address issues identified with traditional methods of selection. This study aims to examine the predictive validity of the UKCAT and compare this to traditional selection methods in the senior years of medical school. This was a follow-up study of two cohorts of students from two medical schools who had previously taken part in a study examining the predictive validity of the UKCAT in first year.

Methods

The sample consisted of 4th and 5th Year students who commenced their studies at the University of Aberdeen or University of Dundee medical schools in 2007. Data collected were: demographics (gender and age group), UKCAT scores; Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form scores; admission interview scores; Year 4 and 5 degree examination scores. Pearson’s correlations were used to examine the relationships between admissions variables, examination scores, gender and age group, and to select variables for multiple linear regression analysis to predict examination scores.

Results

Ninety-nine and 89 students at Aberdeen medical school from Years 4 and 5 respectively, and 51 Year 4 students in Dundee, were included in the analysis. Neither UCAS form nor interview scores were statistically significant predictors of examination performance. Conversely, the UKCAT yielded statistically significant validity coefficients between .24 and .36 in four of five assessments investigated. Multiple regression analysis showed the UKCAT made a statistically significant unique contribution to variance in examination performance in the senior years.

Conclusions

Results suggest the UKCAT appears to predict performance better in the later years of medical school compared to earlier years and provides modest supportive evidence for the UKCAT’s role in student selection within these institutions. Further research is needed to assess the predictive validity of the UKCAT against professional and behavioural outcomes as the cohort commences working life.

Keywords:
UKCAT; Predictive validity; Psychometric; Assessment; Selection; Admissions; Aptitude