Has the UK Clinical Aptitude Test improved medical student selection?

Med Educ. 2010 Nov;44(11):1069-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03792.x.


Objectives: In 2006, the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was introduced as a new medical school admissions tool. The aim of this cohort study was to determine whether the UKCAT has made any improvements to the way medical students are selected.

Methods: Regression analysis was performed in order to study the ability of previous school type and gender to predict UKCAT, personal statement or interview scores in two cohorts of accepted students. The ability of admissions scores and demographic data to predict performance on knowledge and skills examinations was also studied.

Results: Previous school type was not a significant predictor of either interview or UKCAT scores amongst students who had been accepted onto the programme (n = 307). However, it was a significant predictor of personal statement score, with students from independent and grammar schools performing better than students from state-maintained schools. Previous school type, personal statements and interviews were not significant predictors of knowledge examination performance. UKCAT scores were significant predictors of knowledge examination performance for all but one examination administered in the first 2 years of medical school. Admissions data explained very little about performance on skills (objective structured clinical examinations [OSCEs]) assessments.

Conclusions: The use of personal statements as a basis for selection results in a bias towards students from independent and grammar schools. However, no evidence was found to suggest that students accepted from these schools perform any better than students from maintained schools on Year 1 and 2 medical school examinations. Previous school type did not predict interview or UKCAT scores of accepted students. UKCAT scores are predictive of Year 1 and 2 examination performance at this medical school, whereas interview scores are not. The results of this study challenge claims made by other authors that aptitude tests do not have a place in medical school selection in the UK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude Tests*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Cohort Studies
  • College Admission Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Students, Medical*
  • United Kingdom