Posted on 23 January 2006
The test will help universities to widen access and make more informed choices from among the many highly qualified applicants who apply for medical and dental degree programmes. It will help ensure that the candidates selected have the best combination of mental abilities, attitudes and professional behaviours required for doctors and dentists to be successful in their clinical careers. The 90-minute test will require no specific preparation as it aims to probe innate skills and competencies and seeks to assist rather than place an additional hurdle in front of potential candidates.
The UKCAT is being developed by the UKCAT Consortium of Universities with Pearson VUE, a global leader in computer-based testing and part of Pearson plc. It will be delivered on computer through Pearson VUE test centres worldwide. No UK applicant should be more than 40 miles from a test centre and 80% will be within 20 miles.
Professor Ian Johnson, Chair of the UKCAT Consortium, said: "We are delighted that so many universities have acted together and agreed to use the same test to provide additional information for selectors and to improve transparency when feeding back to candidates. The UKCAT will assess a wide range of general skills and attributes rather than strictly academic achievement and will assist universities in creating a level playing field for applicants from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds."
Associate Dean for Admissions at HYMS, Dr Jane Adam, said that while A-level entry grades reflect individuals' educational achievements, they do not give sufficient indication of the problem-solving and other personal qualities that make individuals particularly well suited to a career in medicine.
The new test...will not be a substitute for the present arrangements but complementary to them
Dr Jane Adam
"Last year we had 2,000 applications for 130 places and though our selection processes are more structured than many other medical schools, there is a still a feeling that we need a tool that gives a more objective measure of each person's basic qualities," she said.
"The new test does not measure taught scientific knowledge or academic achievement but is an assessment of aptitude and non-cognitive or personality factors. It will not be a substitute for the present arrangements but complementary to them."
She said that, in the long run, it is hoped that the test would enable medical schools to recruit suitable people from across a broader spectrum.
The UKCAT would also form the basis of the first long-term scientific study of the links between ways of selecting medical students and whether they are successful or not in their subsequent careers. Peter Miller, Commercial Director, Pearson VUE, commented: "We are excited to be working together with the UKCAT Consortium to deliver this important test."