Trainee doctors who achieve higher scores in the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) are more likely to pass their Membership of Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) postgraduate examinations, including the Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills (PACES), according to a new study.
Sourcing data from the UK Medical Education Database (UKMED), a team of experts looked at the relationship between University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and BMAT scores, both of which are used to select doctors into UK universities.
The team who carried out the study looked at data from 3000 doctors who graduated between 2006 and 2018. They found that BMAT Sections 1 and 2 are predictive of passing MRCP Part 1 and 2 knowledge examinations, and Section 1 of BMAT is a good predictor of passing the PACES exam, which assesses essential practical skills, such as communication and patient welfare, in a clinical setting. One of the most notable findings from the study was that trainee doctors who had higher scores in BMAT Section 1 had an increased chance of passing the PACES qualification at first attempt.
Dr Kevin Cheung from Cambridge University Press & Assessment was part of the research team, alongside colleagues from UCL Medical School, the General Medical Council and Hull York Medical School. He explained:
‘We found that doctors who had higher BMAT scores were more likely to perform well in their postgraduate PACES qualification, which is really encouraging. BMAT covers critical thinking skills such as verbal reasoning. These are key tasks that trainee doctors face in a clinical setting’.
This is one of the first studies to also establish that BMAT predicts positive postgraduate outcomes, at least seven years later. The study showed that an aggregated score across BMAT Sections 1 and 2 positively predicts an increased likelihood of passing the MRCP exams. The analyses accounted for previous educational attainment (i.e. A Level and GCSE scores), showing that BMAT adds incremental value to predicting success later in training.
BMAT is developed by Cambridge University Press & Assessment and is used by universities around the world to help select applicants for medical, dental, biomedical and veterinary degree programmes.
The full paper is available at: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/12/2/e056129.full
Technical note: BMAT Section 1, now referred to as the Thinking Skills component of the BMAT, is designed to assess problem solving and critical thinking skills. Historically, BMAT Section 2 (the Scientific Knowledge and Applications section) has been a consistently good predictor of examination performance in a graduate medical school context, whilst lower correlation coefficients have been found with BMAT Section 1. However, it has now been established that Section 1 is a better predictor of passing the PACES qualification, which measures procedural skills beyond semantic knowledge acquisition.