Med­i­cal course ad­mis­sion to use un­der­grad level marks

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

Adam Cress­well Health ed­i­tor

SYD­NEY Univer­sity will place more em­pha­sis than pre­vi­ously on marks gained in an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree when se­lect­ing ap­pli­cants for its grad­u­ate-en­try med­i­cal course, af­ter a re­view process found ev­i­dence that this score was an ef­fec­tive pre­dic­tor of fu­ture per­for­mance.

The eight-month re­view of the med­i­cal school’s ad­mis­sions sys­tem has re­sulted in three key de­ci­sions, one of them be­ing that start­ing with stu­dents who ap­ply in 2009, the grade point av­er­age (GPA) will join the Grad­u­ate Aus­tralian Med­i­cal School Ad­mis­sions Test (GAMSAT) and in­ter­view as the fac­tors de­cid­ing each ap­pli­cant’s rank­ing.

The pre­cise weight­ing to be given to each of the three com­po­nents is yet to be worked out.

The de­ci­sion means the Univer­sity of Syd­ney has de­cided not to fol­low the ex­am­ple of the Univer­sity of Queens­land, which an­nounced last De­cem­ber that it was scrap­ping in­ter­views be­cause they were too prone to bias and lacked ev­i­dence that they worked.

At Syd­ney cur­rently, GPA scores have only been used to help de­cide which stu­dents should be in­vited for in­ter­view. Stu­dents that achieved a min­i­mum GPA of 5.5, roughly equiv­a­lent to a credit av­er­age, would be called to in­ter­view if they also achieved a min­i­mum GAMSAT score.

The fi­nal of­fer of places in the grad­u­ate med­i­cal course would then be de­cided ac­cord­ing to per­for­mance at in­ter­view and the GAMSAT score, with­out ref­er­ence to the GPA.

Syd­ney’s dean of medicine, Pro­fes­sor Bruce Robin­son, said the move re­flected grow­ing faith in the GPA as a use­ful mea­sure, rather than re­duced faith in the in­ter­view.

‘‘ We are not at­tempt­ing to di­lute the role of the in­ter­view,’’ Pro­fes­sor Robin­son said. ‘‘ Rather, be­cause the ev­i­dence is ac­cu­mu­lat­ing that the GPA does have a role in pre­dict­ing per­for­mance in the med­i­cal course, we feel we should be us­ing it.

‘‘ The fac­ulty con­sid­ered whether we wanted to get rid of in­ter­views or not, and there was a strong view that we should re­tain our struc­tured in­ter­view — which is a much fairer and more val­i­dated tool (than an un­struc­tured in­ter­view).’’

The fac­ulty has also de­cided to con­duct more re­search into what ad­mis­sion pro­cesses work best, in a tacit ad­mis­sion that ex­ist­ing ev­i­dence is weak. Po­ten­tial ar­eas of re­search in­clude com­par­ing the GPA, GAMSAT and in­ter­view not only with aca­demic per­for­mance dur­ing the med­i­cal de­gree, but with per­for­mance as a doc­tor af­ter grad­u­a­tion — a more mean­ing­ful mea­sure. Con­tin­ued inside - Page 17

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