Background: In 1998, a new selection process which utilised an aptitude test and an interview in addition to previous academic achievement was introduced into an Australian undergraduate medical course.
Aims: To test the outcomes of the selection criteria over an 11-year period.
Methods: 1174 students who entered the course from secondary school and who enrolled in the MBBS from 1999 through 2009 were studied in relation to specific course outcomes. Regression analyses using entry scores, sex and age as independent variables were tested for their relative value in predicting subsequent academic performance in the 6-year course. The main outcome measures were assessed by weighted average mark for each academic year level; together with results in specific units, defined as either 'knowledge'-based or 'clinically' based.
Results: Previous academic performance and female sex were the major independent positive predictors of performance in the course. The interview score showed positive predictive power during the latter years of the course and in a range of 'clinically' based units. This relationship was mediated predominantly by the score for communication skills.
Conclusions: Results support combining prior academic achievement with the assessment of communication skills in a structured interview as selection criteria into this undergraduate medical course.