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Relationship between general practice selection scores and MRCGP examination performance

What were the key findings?

  • The scores candidates get when applying to enter general practice (GP) training are good indicators regarding the progress they will make during that training.

  • The relationship between these factors was generally weaker for international medical graduates (IMGs) who had taken the Professional Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test than other groups – range restriction was identified as a likely factor explaining why the selection tests seem ‘less good’ at predicting performance for IMGs who had taken PLAB.

  • Prediction of performance for IMGs who had taken PLAB could be improved by taking into account candidates’ performance on the International English Language Testing System and/or on the our PLAB test where this information was available.

  • The variance in outcome scores explained by the researchers’ model increased more for IMGs who had taken PLAB when taking into account the number of times they had taken PLAB before passing rather than their final passing PLAB scores.

Why did we commission this research?

This review follows earlier research by Professors Esmail and Roberts, which found evidence of significant differences in failure rates between different groups of doctors in the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) examination, one of the tests taken to determine whether someone passes GP training.

For example, black and minority ethnic (BME) UK graduates were nearly four times more likely to fail the examination at their first attempt compared to their White UK counterparts, with BME IMGs almost 15 times more likely to fail.

We wanted to identify if it is possible to predict which doctors would have difficulties passing the Royal College of GP exams  essential for progression through GP training  based on their scores in selection assessments for entering that training.

If there is a correlation, it may be possible to target support early in the training programme to enable successful progression.

What did the research involve?

For the period 200813, trainees’ scores during selection tests for GP training were matched with scores on tests taken during that training. The relationship between these results was explored. Whether this relationship differed depending on a doctors’ ethnicity and where they gained their primary medical qualification was also considered.

Read full report

Exploring the Relationship between General Practice Selection Scores and MRCGP Examination Performance full report