A few UKCAT SJT tips

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August 5, 2013 by Emedica

The Situational Judgement section of the UKCAT is a bit of an enigma to many! Unlike the other sections where it is clear that cognitive skills are being tested (even in Abstract Reasoning) it is much harder to articulate what ‘they want’ from the SJT section.

In short this section is looking to see what your professional and ethical instincts are like. You are given a series of ‘dilemma’ scenarios and have to assess how appropriate actions are, or how important considerations are.

This sort of test is used repeatedly throughout medical training – even for qualified doctors who are apply for specialty training so it’s a taste of things to come!

In SJT exams generally there is some recognition of the subjective nature of the questions so, unlike in other sections where accuracy is prized, you will get marks for being ‘almost right’! If an action is deemed, by the experts and question writers as ‘appropriate but not ideal’ and you mark it as ‘very appropriate’ you will receive half a mark. Because of this feature it is worth refraining from a 5 minute agonise between options A and B!

You’ll be given a banding in your UKCAT SJT section – band 1 is ‘exceptional performance’, band 2 is ‘good’, band 3 is ‘below average’ and band 4 is ‘poor’.

Things to consider:

A scenario will sometimes feature more than one ‘player’. Check you know who’s point of view you are answering from.

Crucially remember that medical (or dentistry) students are NOT doctors yet and shouldn’t behave as if they are! This would be known, ‘in the business’ of acting within your ‘competency’ or ‘remit’. This is important. It isn’t appropriate, for example, for a medical student to make a diagnosis or speak to a patient about their prognosis – outside of very specific situations where a qualified doctor is supervising.

Treating people with dignity and respect is always good – within and outside of medicine and dentistry! Scenarios may include options to treat colleagues or patients without due respect – don’t choose them! And don’t forget – that nurses, midwives, cleaners and receptionists fall into the category of ‘colleagues’ – not minions!

Looking after your own health and wellbeing is important and using good judgement to ensure that people care for themselves as well as everyone else is imperative.

Key medical principles such as confidentiality and patient safety may well arise. These two are core pillars of medical ethics – it would be worth thinking about them before your test. Consent is another key area.

And finally – Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) is a new challenge both in medicine and society at large. Privacy, confidentiality and professionalism can all be compromised with a careless post or two. It is likely to be in your SJT section.


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