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Exactly how competitive is GEM? watch

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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I'm a 'thing?'

    In all seriousness though, there's little evidence to suggest that all those things you've said can't be done by doctors who haven't done the UKCAT, and that's what makes it rubbish, given that it's not exactly any easy test and is just unnecessary stress. Not to mention that, while there are time constraints as a doctor, they aren't quite as strict as in the UKCAT. If you don't get something in 15 seconds, in practice you can afford to take another 10 seconds instead of having the screen time out on you.

    Those skills can be developed over one's medical career instead of expecting school leavers to have them. There's really only one reason why they have the UKCAT -- to make the admissions tutors jobs easier. There's quite literally no other reason for it. If it instilled any skills without which you weren't fit to train as a doctor, all universities would have to require it in order to get GMC accreditation.
    Your point about the use of the UKCAT as a discriminator for admissions tutors is, of course, very true. However, I do think that the time-constrained nature of the UKCAT makes it a decent way of distinguishing how applicants perform under pressure.

    The UKCAT is designed to be stressful, it's not meant to be easy. Overall, I see that UKCAT aims to test how successfully applicants can make evidence-based decisions and spot patterns given limited amounts of information. Would you not say that these are relevant skills? It would be nice for applicants to show some evidence for this. As mentioned previously, the questions are very doable but the time constraints can ruin some people. It can understandably cause some test-takers to panic by spending ages on a particular question, or guessing a series of other questions. But fundamentally, each question carries the same weighting and it takes a cool head to carry on calmly with a rational mind, even when some questions don't seem to be going your way.

    I do not believe that the UKCAT is a perfect test at all, but I do see how it has some relevance in identifying the kinds of traits admissions tutors are looking for. If you're against the UKCAT, I'd guess you don't support the use of the BMAT or GAMSAT either?
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    (Original post by ah639)
    Would you not say that these are relevant skills? It would be nice for applicants to show some evidence for this.
    Relevant, perhaps. But essential? Not really. As I've said, if the skills tested by the UKCAT were so indispensable at the point of entry to medical school, no medical school that didn't require it, or something similar to it, would get GMC accreditation as they do at present. Moreover, it would have been introduced sooner than 2006. It's been shown to be only a mild predictor of success once at medical school and is dwarfed in that respect by A Level performance.

    There also doesn't seem to be any noticeable gap in the performance of junior doctors produced by Bristol, the only medical school not that doesn't require the UKCAT or any other admissions test for its medical degrees for 2016 entry, and medical schools that use the UKCAT. So yeah, I see it as little more than a pointless test whose primary (and, I would argue, only) purpose is to provide another discriminator for admissions tutors.

    Interestingly, the last two medical schools to adopt it, Liverpool and Birmingham (using it for the first time this year), seem to have done so solely because of the pressure placed on their admissions tutors by a very large number of applications from people who didn't do well enough on this one test to stand a chance elsewhere. Bristol, too, rumour has it, is going to introduce the UKCAT for 2017 entry for precisely this reason. Are we to believe that they suddenly realised that their applicants lack some crucial skill? :rolleyes: I don't, anyway.

    I do not believe that the UKCAT is a perfect test at all, but I do see how it has some relevance in identifying the kinds of traits admissions tutors are looking for. If you're against the UKCAT, I'd guess you don't support the use of the BMAT or GAMSAT either?
    I can't speak for the GAMSAT because I've never done it or even looked at a practice paper but, although I liked the BMAT a lot more than the UKCAT, I have similar feelings towards the BMAT, yes. I have strong views about education in general which are rather too long to go into here, but the long and short of it is this: I don't like tests/exams that are difficult because of the timing rather than the content. The idea of having to guess a question that you could otherwise do (as I had to do in the BMAT) and move on is abhorrent to me, as is the idea that exam technique should be more important than what it actually tests.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    Relevant, perhaps. But essential? Not really. As I've said, if the skills tested by the UKCAT were so indispensable at the point of entry to medical school, no medical school that didn't require it, or something similar to it, would get GMC accreditation as they do at present. Moreover, it would have been introduced sooner than 2006. It's been shown to be only a mild predictor of success once at medical school and is dwarfed in that respect by A Level performance.

    There also doesn't seem to be any noticeable gap in the performance of junior doctors produced by Bristol, the only medical school not that doesn't require the UKCAT or any other admissions test for its medical degrees for 2016 entry, and medical schools that use the UKCAT. So yeah, I see it as little more than a pointless test whose primary (and, I would argue, only) purpose is to provide another discriminator for admissions tutors.

    Interestingly, the last two medical schools to adopt it, Liverpool and Birmingham (using it for the first time this year), seem to have done so solely because of the pressure placed on their admissions tutors by a very large number of applications from people who didn't do well enough on this one test to stand a chance elsewhere. Bristol, too, rumour has it, is going to introduce the UKCAT for 2017 entry for precisely this reason. Are we to believe that they suddenly realised that their applicants lack some crucial skill? :rolleyes: I don't, anyway.



    I can't speak for the GAMSAT because I've never done it or even looked at a practice paper but, although I liked the BMAT a lot more than the UKCAT, I have similar feelings towards the BMAT, yes. I have strong views about education in general which are rather too long to go into here, but the long and short of it is this: I don't like tests/exams that are difficult because of the timing rather than the content. The idea of having to guess a question that you could otherwise do (as I had to do in the BMAT) and move on is abhorrent to me, as is the idea that exam technique should be more important than what it actually tests.
    If you agree the test has some relevance, then why do you think it's pointless? I'm not saying it's essential either but from the point of view of Admissions' Teams, they need another discriminator, especially pre-interview. It is totally infeasible to interview all applicants. Even then, can you honestly rigorously assess an applicants suitability for a medical degree and career in 20 minutes? I think not. The whole application process has its flaws, but admissions officers and students have to deal with it. It's about making the most of an imperfect situation. If applicants thought that the UKCAT was pointless and didn't put enough preparation into it, they wouldn't get very far, or at least be limited significantly in their medical school choices.

    Many UKCAT Consortium universities don't see the skills which the UKCAT tests as 'indispensable'. It's at the discretion of those universities to decide how scores are used, and they do so differently. Yes, A Levels are a much better predictor of success in early years at Medical School than UKCAT score is. But there are more high-achieving applicants than there are places, and the UKCAT doesn't replace A Level performance as a selection tool. It is used in conjunction with it, and there is evidence to suggest that the UKCAT does have some incremental value (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/244). Of course it's not going to predict how good the final product, the junior doctor, is going to be, because it's the experiences during MBBS which mould the applicant into a competent FY1. There is also evidence which says that the test may be involved in widening access to medicine to those from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds (http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1805) which, in my opinion, is no bad thing.

    I agree with you that the UKCAT is not 'essential' from an applicant's point of view. I don't think Biology and Chemistry A Level are truly essential either. But to Universities, having another discriminator is necessary, and the UKCAT (along with other admissions tests) has shown to be of some value. Even then, it's not the be-all and end-all as it is used differently across medical schools, but competent performance in the exam is a reasonable ask. A good score is achievable with diligent preparation for both the question types and the test environment.

    To call the UKCAT 'pointless' isn't constructive. As things stand, it is one of the best selection tools available. Tools which are necessary. Introducing another test is always going to be difficult to implement, and it will be almost impossible to do so using an evidence-based approach. What are they going to do? Get thousands of applicants to sit a test, not use it as part of the selection process, but then correlate medical school performance with those test results? That would be terribly unpopular.
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    (Original post by ah639)
    If you agree the test has some relevance, then why do you think it's pointless? I'm not saying it's essential either but from the point of view of Admissions' Teams, they need another discriminator, especially pre-interview. It is totally infeasible to interview all applicants. Even then, can you honestly rigorously assess an applicants suitability for a medical degree and career in 20 minutes? I think not. The whole application process has its flaws, but admissions officers and students have to deal with it. It's about making the most of an imperfect situation. If applicants thought that the UKCAT was pointless and didn't put enough preparation into it, they wouldn't get very far, or at least be limited significantly in their medical school choices.

    Many UKCAT Consortium universities don't see the skills which the UKCAT tests as 'indispensable'. It's at the discretion of those universities to decide how scores are used, and they do so differently. Yes, A Levels are a much better predictor of success in early years at Medical School than UKCAT score is. But there are more high-achieving applicants than there are places, and the UKCAT doesn't replace A Level performance as a selection tool. It is used in conjunction with it, and there is evidence to suggest that the UKCAT does have some incremental value (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/244). Of course it's not going to predict how good the final product, the junior doctor, is going to be, because it's the experiences during MBBS which mould the applicant into a competent FY1. There is also evidence which says that the test may be involved in widening access to medicine to those from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds (http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1805) which, in my opinion, is no bad thing.
    I think there are a number of misunderstandings here.

    I haven't said that the UKCAT doesn't do its job as a discriminator -- in fact, I've stated that as arguably the only purpose which it serves. As far as the relevance of it goes, I don't think it is significant enough to merit the use of the UKCAT for any other reason than to act as a discriminator. It seems to be adopted (for the most part) by medical schools not for the reason often claimed, namely to test crucial skills for medical practice, but because they need another discriminator due to a large volume of applications from people with low UKCAT scores, as demonstrated by the example of Liverpool and Birmingham, the two most recent schools to adopt it.

    My stance on the relevance of the UKCAT is that, if it doesn't in some way improve the quality of the FY1 doctor, then it's a pointless test which exists solely to provide a discriminator. I have not said that this discriminator is not needed, or that A Level results alone are sufficient to determine the best applicants or that medical schools should interview all applicants.

    I don't think the 'they can't rigorously test an applicant's suitability for a medical degree in 20 minutes' argument is a particularly sound one, because I could just as easily appeal to incredulity and say that they can't rigorously test an applicant's suitability for a medical degree in 2 hours and 20 minutes either. They're arbitrary numbers and one isn't inherently better than the other given that they can both be trained for to an extent. It's also worth noting that medical interviews in the MMI format can be longer than 20 minutes.

    I agree with you that the UKCAT is not 'essential' from an applicant's point of view. I don't think Biology and Chemistry A Level are truly essential either. But to Universities, having another discriminator is necessary, and the UKCAT (along with other admissions tests) has shown to be of some value. Even then, it's not the be-all and end-all as it is used differently across medical schools, but competent performance in the exam is a reasonable ask. A good score is achievable with diligent preparation for both the question types and the test environment.
    I would say that it's only a reasonable ask insofar as it makes it easier for admissions tutors to select applicants. In that regard, I don't think it's any more reasonable than asking that applicants do an unrelated paper like the MAT (used for maths, arguably of very tangential relevance to medicine) or an interview-day test like the ones conducted by some Cambridge colleges (admittedly for other subjects). Both of those would do the job of discriminator just fine (although I'm not actually advocating for that change to be made), even though they don't actually test anything that will affect the quality of the junior doctor produced at the other end.

    I'd also like to mention that it is the be-all and end-all for some applicants. If you get a poor UKCAT score and haven't got great GCSE grades, you're effectively limited to a few BMAT universities at best. There are very few universities left these days that would accept a low (<600 average) score. The only ones that come to mind are Cardiff and Bristol (both of whom require decent GCSEs) and (post-qualification) Keele.

    To call the UKCAT 'pointless' isn't constructive. As things stand, it is one of the best selection tools available. Tools which are necessary. Introducing another test is always going to be difficult to implement, and it will be almost impossible to do so using an evidence-based approach. What are they going to do? Get thousands of applicants to sit a test, not use it as part of the selection process, but then correlate medical school performance with those test results? That would be terribly unpopular.
    I imagine they'd do whatever they did when they devised the UKCAT -- after all, assuming they didn't use an evidence-based approach, it's something of a matter of luck that it happens to predict success at medical school to an extent, isn't it? Or switch to the BMAT.

    Constructive or not, it's my view. As I said, I don't like exams which predominantly test exam technique. I'm not calling for medical schools to stop using it either -- I can see the value of it to admissions tutors and I'm somewhat confused as to why that hasn't come across as well as I would've liked, given that I mentioned it explicitly in previous posts.

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    Sorry for the delay -- I got caught up in various other debates and felt a little exhausted. I try not to simply ignore replies though.
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    (Original post by neuronerd)
    Also FYI: Newcastle have released the application stats this year for their GEM... 43 applicants per place!
    Where was this? I can't believe that with my endless trawling the internet I missed it
 
 
 
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