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Table 1 Categorising Use of the UKCAT in Selection

From: UKCAT and medical student selection in the UK – what has changed since 2006?



Borderline Method

UKCAT was used as an objective measure to discriminate between applicants lying at a decision borderline for either interview or offer.

Some schools included this method in their selection ‘toolkit’ but did not always use it depending on outcomes at other selection stages.

This method was generally only applied to a small number of applicants and as such we define this use as ‘light touch’.

Factor Method

Schools used weighted criteria to create a unique algorithm determining a score for applicants which could then be compared. The Factor Method was used most frequently to determine invite for interview and, on occasion, to make offers.

Weighted criteria used to identify applicants for interview included academic scoring, UKCAT scoring (usually the UKCAT total score), personal statement scoring and University own questionnaires. Following interview, some Universities weighted the interview score alongside academic, personal statement and other scores.

An example of how the Factor Method is used in selection is provided below.

Weighting and the range of scores for different criteria determined impact on outcomes. If, for example, academic score range was limited, then regardless of how low the UKCAT weighting, UKCAT may still have significant impact on outcomes.

Threshold Method

Applicants were required to achieve a minimum UKCAT score to progress to the next stage of a selection process. Thresholds were most commonly used to identify those to invite for interview, often applied following an assessment of academic qualifications and/or other criteria.

‘Actual’ thresholds were pre-determined and often published for the information of applicants. Actual thresholds may have been used to reduce the number of applicants for consideration at a further stage (e.g. to reduce the number of UCAS forms for scoring).

‘Convenience’ thresholds ranked applicants by UKCAT, choosing the cut off score which provided the N applicants required for interview. Some applicants were not clear as to whether their score would meet this requirement although schools have on occasion published indicative scores to guide applicant choice.

This method has been regarded as giving UKCAT a higher impact on outcomes than other measures. In some cases however, where cut off scores were low, the impact was less significant, screening out small numbers of applicants.

Rescue Method

High UKCAT scores used to ‘compensate’ for a lower score in another part of the selection process, ‘rescuing’ applicants who might otherwise have been rejected.

Overall impact of this use was light touch, affecting small numbers of applicants.