2015 saw a momentous event for UKCAT, our 10th year of testing candidates, so we thought we’d take a look back at how the test first came about, look at how many candidates have taken the test over the last 10 years, and also see what the future holds for this unique admissions test.
Back in 2006, much like today, competition for places in medical and dental schools in the UK was fierce. This was creating real challenges for those involved in medical and dental admissions. The difficulty of differentiating between candidates with outstanding grades in public examinations, with very similar, carefully crafted personal statements and bland references called into question the fairness and validity of the existing systems.
It was also felt that the concentration upon purely academic results ignored other factors needed for successful clinical practice, such as common sense, problem solving skills, conscientiousness, empathy and resilience.
A group of academics and administrators responsible for admissions to medicine and dentistry came together to form a consortium to solve these problems. They designed a new selection test, to be used by their universities as part of their selection criteria, and so the UKCAT was born. The first test was delivered in 2006 to 18,542 candidates.
The evidence base around admissions to medicine and dentistry in the UK was felt to be inadequate and from the beginning UKCAT committed to facilitating and delivering relevant research.
Since 2006, 231,841 tests have been successfully delivered.
From the outset the Consortium has been committed to widening access to medical and dental professions. UKCAT awards bursaries to cover the full test fee to any candidates meeting the eligibility criteria. Since 2006 22,817 bursaries have been awarded. The UKCAT team also work closely with Widening Participation / Outreach groups across the UK to ensure that information is available to all students interested in this career path. Much of the research undertaken by UKCAT has focused on the issue of widening access and contributed significantly to the wider debates in this area.
10 Years on, we have time to (briefly) pause and reflect on the success of the UKCAT in meeting its aims and what the future holds for the test. Rachel Greatrix, Chief Operating Officer of UKCAT commented “UKCAT has matured as an organisation since 2006 and has never stood still. We have positioned ourselves at the forefront of research into medical and dental admissions in the UK. Our test continues to evolve in response to national developments. The UKCAT has predictive validity and we remain convinced that we are offering schools a robust and reliable method to help them discriminate between the many able applicants they attract.”