Objectives: To compare the relative importance of social, academic and application form factors at admission in predicting performance in the first 3 years of a medicine course.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: A single UK medical school.
Participants: A total of 738 students who entered medical school between 1994 and 1997.
Main outcome measure: Performance in Year 3 objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).
Results: School-leaving grades were significant predictors of success in the OSCE. Non-academic activities as assessed from the application form were associated with poorer performance. Mature students performed extremely well, and male and ethnic minority students performed less well. Socioeconomic status and type of school attended were not found to affect performance on the course.
Conclusions: The relatively poor performance of male and ethnic minority students urgently needs further investigation. Our results carry no suggestion that, other things being equal, widening access to medical school for mature students and those from less affluent backgrounds would result in poorer performance.